Following a very favorable report from Comptroller of Maryland Peter Franchot, and years of efforts by the constituent group Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws, bills to allow direct shipments from wineries inside and outside of Maryland were introduced in both chambers of the General Assembly on Friday. According to Free the Grapes!, 83 delegates and 32 Senators have signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation, and the bill is also endorsed by Maryland Wineries Association and Wine Merchants Association of Maryland. Maryland is a felony state and currently one of the 13 states that prohibit offsite wine shipments.
House Bill 234 and Senate Bill 248 follow closely the recommendations of Franchot in his Direct Wine Shipment Report. The new $100 Direct Wine Shipper’s Permit that renews annually at $50 would allow licensees to ship no more than 24 9-liter cases of wine annually to any one consumer in Maryland. Licensees would be required to submit to the jurisdiction of the Office of the Comptroller and remit quarterly sales and excise tax reports. An interesting feature of the bill, as recommended by Franchot, is a prohibition on delivery of wine shipments on Sundays. Licensees would be able to ship wine via common carriers, who must also get a $100 Common Carrier Permit and file quarterly reports of shipments.
Based on the broad sponsorship and many endorsements, it seems likely that Maryland consumers will have access to direct wine shipments this year, although stranger things have happened in the legislative process. Winery direct shipping marketers might want to get to work on a business plan for opening up a brand new market for wine direct shipments in 2011.