Direct wine shipment bills pass key hurdles in Md. legislature

Wine aficionados in Maryland may soon be able to order their favorite vintages directly from vineyards under bills overwhelmingly approved Tuesday by two legislative committees.

The effort to legalize direct wine shipment has long been opposed by the powerful alcohol industry in Annapolis. Under pressure from consumers this year, however, lawmakers have embraced a compromise that would allow shipments from wineries — but not from retail stores as initially proposed.

After a bipartisan vote in favor of the bill in the House Economic Matters Committee on Tuesday, Chairman Dereck Davis (D-Prince George’s) said the measure “moved the ball forward,” while he also acknowledged that “everyone is not entirely pleased.”

Dereck E. Davis (Dereck E. Davis)

A similar measure was approved Tuesday by a Senate committee.

Nick Manis, a lobbyist for beer wholesalers, called the industry’s position in favor of the compromise “a major concession.”

Under the House version of the bill, Maryland residents could order up to 18 cases of wine per year directly to their homes.

If the measure is successful on the floor of the House and Senate, it will be a boon to the state’s wine connoisseurs. Scores of Maryland residents currently circumvent the law by ordering wine to their offices in the District or to the homes of friends who live in Virginia – two of the 38 states or jurisdictions that currently allow direct wine shipment.

Ann covers legal affairs in the District and Maryland for the Washington Post. Ann previously covered state government and politics in California, New Hampshire and Maryland. She joined the Post in 2005.


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