Direct Wine Shipping Examined for Maryland

Wine lovers in Maryland don't have it easy. If you're a Maryland resident, you can't order direct delivery of wines from out of state.

Montgomery County runs wine and liquor stores at several locations, and the Department of Liquor Control supplies most of the wines that are sold in independent stores.

But this could be the year that Maryland changes its law.

Comptroller Peter Franchot released a report that could serve as a blueprint for Maryland lawmakers to allow direct wine shipments from out of state, based on the best practices of 37 states and the District, which allow it.

The state would collect permit fees and taxes from the vineyards, Franchot said.

The report suggests allowing shipments from out-of-state wineries, but not retailers. The plan would also limit the amount of wine purchased to 12 cases per person each year.

Direct shipment of wine won't encourage underage drinking, that it will protect Maryland retailers, promote local wineries and be a convenience for the consumer, Franchot said.

An adult over age 21 would be required to sign for the shipment, and Sunday deliveries would be prohibited.

"As a former New Yorker and who was able to get wine whenever [I] wanted, and any kind of wine, it's frustrating to come to a [wine] store like this, and they don't have the wine that I want," said Maryland resident Jane Barbara.

Some Maryland lawmakers are ready to introduce bills allowing direct wine shipment in the legislative session that runs from January until mid-April.

"I have been to California wineries that won't ship to Maryland," said Maryland resident John Gondek. "It will be nice to order directly from the vineyards."

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