Spirit Cruises January 2023 Leaderboard

New: Let the PLCB Deliver Wine to Your Door

Some change is better than none
by Melissa Auman Greiner on Jan 26, 2012 in Wine
New: Let the PLCB Deliver Wine to Your Door

If there is one thing all Pennsylvanians know about the Commonwealth's liquor control laws, it’s that they are antiquated. What many of us don’t know is what those laws actually are. As it turns out, this past holiday season saw a fairly big change to alcohol shipping rules that have angered many for years.

The news is that since the last week of November 2011, Pennsylvanians have been legally allowed to have wine shipped to their home. Didn’t hear about it until now? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Harrisburg did this as quietly as possible, going no further to promote it than changing the wording on their website. According to a statement provided to The Philadelphia Inquirer, they didn’t want to “make a fuss.”

The reform is far from sweeping. Bottles in question have to be ordered through finewinegoodspirits.com, the online home of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board stores. You can’t have a bottle delivered to you if it can be found in the bricks-and-mortar store; only those listed under the “specialty” category (which does include around 2000 options). Plus, you’re going to pay extra for it. To have a bottle shipped to a store near you – as you needed to before the change – will cost you $7. To have it sent down the road to your home will cost $14 for up to three bottles, with an additional $1 per bottle charge when your order is larger.

What we have been wishing for? Not even close. But improvement? Yes. While the new rules won’t help you score a bottle from that favorite Napa winery you visited or allow you to save by joining an online buying club, it’s a baby step towards something many other states have allowed for years.

And there may be another step coming soon. An amendment to Section 488 of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Laws has been proposed in the state legislature. Under Senate Bill No. 790, any entity with a direct wine shipper license would be able to send up to 18 liters of wine to your front door, so long as the wine in question is not available within a Pennsylvania State Store. That lovely Riesling you found in the Finger Lakes.? You could order a case for some sweet summer sipping.

But, about that direct wine shipper license. Will your favorite winery sign up for one? The LCB would be the one dolling them out, and the stipulations joining might turn off some vintners. The fee is just $100, not bad at all. But the vineyard will have to report to the LCB how much wine they ship to residents each year, as well as pay PA taxes annually based on that amount. There’s a not unlikely chance the paperwork and cost will simply not seem worth it.

The bill is now in the Appropriations Committee, so you might worry that is will become buried in bureaucratic nonsense. However, since much of this stems from a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a wine shipping ban is unconstitutional, there will likely some movement on this issue this year. You can rest assured I’ll be watching, and that my UPS guy should get ready for some heavy lifting.
 
Top photo via Flickr user mccoryjames; bottom photo by Flickr user stevegarfield
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