ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Maryland wineries know something about producing a fine vintage.
"We're bringing home gold medals, and you see that some of the big brand names in California are at the silver and the bronze level," said Maryland Wineries Association Executive Director Kevin Atticks.
But Maryland’s four dozen wineries also know their market, in essence, ends at the state line.
The same is true for wine aficionados who would like to purchase bottles from other states.
"I've had a countless number of people in the Washington area come up to me and say, 'Hey, I'm sick of breaking the law, and having it sent to my law firm in Washington or something and then having to bring it home. It's wrong,’" said Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot.
Under the direction of state lawmakers, the comptroller surveyed 3,000 customers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers here in Maryland and in the 37 states who permit direct shipping and has come up with a plan to uncork the bottle.
"We've made the determination that it would be 12 cases of wine per person per year, which means for any adult whose eligible to receive wine, they could get 12 cases whether it be one person in one house or five people in one house, they could each get 12 cases of wine," said Field Enforcement Director Jeff Kelly.
The direct shipments would be limited to wineries, not retailers… and the state would require permits and taxes, while prohibiting sales to minors.
Lifting Maryland’s ban on such sales would open up markets in the states, which currently allow wine shipments.
"We know from our peers in other states that wineries add 50-to-20% revenue from the ability to ship directly to customers," said Atticks.
The first bid to open up the direct shipment of wine in Maryland came 29 years ago.
The report downplays the potential for minors to try to make purchases on-line, since the shipping costs can run as high as $22 per bottle.
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