On March 28, the Pennsylvania State Senate unanimously passed 48-0, Senate Bill 790 which would allow consumers to have domestic wines from U.S. wineries shipped directly to their homes in the state. Under the legislation, consumers would be allowed to purchase by phone, mail or internet as many as 24 domestic wines per month. However, for those residents interested in purchasing imported wines, Pennsylvania residents would still be required to continue to obtain imported wine purchases from the 620 state owned/controlled liquor stores.
Under the bill, consumers would be required to verify their age and sign for shipments. Wineries would be required to collect taxes prior to shipping and to pay a $100 state registration fee annually along with reporting requirements to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
Pennsylvania is one of 14 states that restricts the shipping of wine to its residents. The State’s ban on direct shipment of wine has been a long standing concern integral to the wider debate on the future of the Pennsylvania’s state-controlled liquor store system. While proponents of the bill believe the legislation offers Pennsylvania residents a bit more liquor freedom while bolstering state revenue, Senator Lawrence M. Farnese Jr. D-Philadelphia, a co-sponsor of the bill voiced his disappointment arguing that late surfacing amendments to the bill shuts out “90 percent of the world’s wine” from French, German, Australian and other imports thus “giving the people of Pennsylvania less that what they should be getting”.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is the largest purchased of wine and spirits in the United States with sales topping $1.9 billion.