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Maryland Opens for Direct Shipping on July 1st

Thirty-eight states plus the District of Columbia allow consumers to order wine directly from wineries over the Internet. On July 1st, Maryland will become the 39th state to allow direct to consumer orders from wineries. Following years of efforts by winery and consumer organizations such as Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws, Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law House Bill 1175 on May 10th after the bill moved relatively swiftly through both chambers of the state legislature. Maryland will be the first new state to adopt wine shipping since Maine opened its borders in September, 2009.

The Comptroller’s office reportedly will have all of the forms and rules available in time for wineries to apply for permits and be ready to ship on July 1st, the date that the new law takes effect. Licensed wineries will be able to ship 18 cases to each “delivery address” per year. So, each Maryland household would be able to, for example, order up to 18 cases of Pride Mountain Reserve Cabernet (my personal favorite), and 18 cases of King Estate Signature Pinot Noir per year.

The Direct Wine Shipment Report released by Comptroller Peter Franchot played an important role in persuading legislators that direct shipping would benefit Maryland consumers and not lead to an increase in underage access. The Comptroller’s report recommended best practices for direct shipping, including a $100 permit fee (which was subsequently increased to $200), that the legislature adopted as the new law in Maryland. Wineries interested in adding Maryland to their portfolio can track our blog, where we’ll stay on top of developments as the Comptroller’s office hustles to get the rules and permit application forms available in advance of the July 1st start date.