The Gritty Reality of the New Maryland Wine Shipping Law

Fingernails Maryland is receiving applications for and issuing licenses to allow the direct shipment of wine. This was the big news last week and the result of a multi-year effort by wine consumers and their advocates in the state. And as of July 1, the following wineries have been issued or applied for licenses to ship direct to Marylanders:

Black Ankle, Frederick County, Maryland
 Boordy Vineyards, Baltimore County, Maryland
Elk Run Vineyards, Carroll County, Maryland
Far Eastern Shore Winery, Talbot County, Maryland
Fiore Winery, Harford CountyKnob Hall Winery, Washington County, Marylalnd
Layton's Chance Vineyard & Winery, Dorchester County, Maryland
Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, Frederick County, Maryland
Terrapin Station Winery, Montgomery County, Maryland
Tilmon's Island Winery, Queen Anne's County, Maryland
Abeja, Washington
Bell Wine Cellars
Bookwalter Winery, Washington
Chateau Julien, California
Chateau Morrisette, Virginia
Clos Pegase Winery, California
Cristom Vineyards, Oregon
Dolce, California
Far Niente Winery, California
Frog's Leap Winery, California
Nickel & Nickel, California
Pride Mountain Vineyards, California
Robert Craig Winery, California
Robert Sinskey Vineyards, California
St. Supery Vineyard & Winery, California
Thomas Fogarty Winery, California
Trefethen Vineyards Winery, California
Westport Winery, Washington
Wine Group, California
ZD Wines, California

It's not a long list, yet, but I'm sure it will grow. I'd bet upwards of 300-500 wineries will have applied for licenses by this time next year.

But here's the rub, and I know its a rub because I worked on this issue on behalf of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association: the number of wines available to Marylanders via direct shipment if wine stores were allowed to ship into that state would have been more on this very day than they will be in a year from now.

And as long as we are rubbing ourselves, there's this:

The state of Maryland would have collected more tax revenues on wine shipments by the end of this year than they will all of next year, if only Marylanders were allowed to have wine shipped to them from wine stores.

Let's keep up all this rubbing:

Not a single bottle of French, German, Italian, Spanish, German, Austrian, Argentinian, Canadian, New Zealand or any other foreign wine will get into the hands of Maryland wine lovers via direct shipment by the time 300-500 wineries get their licenses to ship because it is illegal for wine stores to ship to Marylanders: Only wine stores sell imported wines.

I want all of my readers now to close their eyes. Imagine nothingness. Imagine blackness. Imagine deadness. Ok. Now imagine all that nothingness, blackness and deadness emmanating from the eyes of lawmakers and wholesalers. That is exactly the image that struck back at me and met my eyes when I explained all these consequences of banning wine stores from shipping to Marylanders.

Consumers in Maryland have nothing like real rights to have wine shipped to them. They are being denied access to the real American wine market because lawmakers in Maryland threw their own wine stores, threw real commerce, threw real tax revenues and threw real Maryland wine consumers under the bus for the sake of appeasing a constituency that has their hands so deep into the putrid well of special interests that they will never be able to remove the muck, grit and dirty grime that has accumulated under their nails.

Word is that next year there may be an attempt to amend the Maryland wine shipping law to allow in-state and out-of-state retailers to ship wine to Maryland residents. This would be good not only for Maryland wine consumers, free trade, and wine stores, but for the 1000s of American wineries that will not have a license to ship wine to Marylanders. Retailers, given the chance to ship wine, will happily sell these wineries' goods that they have obtained from wholesalers in various states. And of course, in addition to these wines, wines of France, Germany, Italy and other far off lands will finally be made available to Marylanders after years of having to be satisfied with the comparative paltry selection provide to them by Maryland wholesaler who supply the state's retailers.

Let's hope that all the folks who got behind winery shipping demonstrates their regard for Maryland consumers against and fixes this badly shaped wine shipping law.


9 Responses

  1. Rich Reader - July 12, 2011

    Keep up the rub. The absurdity of this legislation must be more widely understood.

  2. Marcia M - July 12, 2011

    But, alas, the law is rubbing Marylanders the wrong way in the end!

  3. Lisa Khajavi - July 12, 2011

    Ah the rub-there’s always a rub but this is a big one! One step forward, 3 steps back….
    Great coverage. Keep on truckin’!

  4. Keb Leeman - July 12, 2011

    Any Maryland Distributor want the right to Distribute Big Pecker Wine in your State should contact [email protected]. Just go to for the story & enjoy a great/fun wine.

  5. Andy - July 12, 2011

    article in fit quite interesting to read so that adds new knowledge to my

  6. Tom - July 13, 2011

    As a DC retailer, I want to thank you for all the effort you made to try and get the vacant-eyed legislators to allow retailers to ship into MD. I’m sure you heard it in your discussions too, but an LA for one of the delegates confirmed that in addition to the distributor lobby, there were a few MD wineries that got good press outside the state and increased demand inside MD for those wines. So there was going to be a bill this year to allow them to ship, come hell or high water. There was a brief moment when it looked like retailers might be in the bill and that threatened to hold everything up, so out they came.

  7. Mark - July 14, 2011

    Tom, we would love to ship to Maryland….just not allowed to as an Internet retailer. Plus, at some point I would love to have the states come up with a fee structure giving an easier entry point for smaller retailers. 200 bucks per license doesn’t sound bad, but long term 200 per state starts to add a substantial cost. Especially when so many of our competitors already ship there permit less

  8. Tom M - July 16, 2011

    Thanks for keeping the pressure up and on. The situation here in MD remains as corrupted as many other states. These “compromises” of citizens rights by powerful lobbyists and the elected cement the skepticism of the voting public.
    Hope you make it back to MD to testify again.
    Tom M

  9. Stew Reynolds - July 19, 2011

    We would love to provide high quality wines to Maryland wine lovers. I was appalled when in the final hour retailer we cast aside. Another bargaining chip in this battle. I truly hope that you and others will continue the pressure. I can’t wait for the day all retailers and wineries have full rights to ship to the state Maryland.
    VA Wine of the Month Club

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