Pennsylvania Loosens Ties On Wine Sale

After sticking with its Prohibition-era restrictions on wine sales for generations, Pennsylvania will end its ban on Internet and mail-oder shipments.

The change comes about because a judge overturned the ban. Out-of-state wineries now will be allowed to ship directly to Pennsylvania residents rather than having to sell only through state-owned stores. That change leaves Utah as the only state with total control over wine and liquor sales.

Pennsylvania (click here for a wine trail connection) is No. 5 nationally in the number of wineries, behind California, Washington, New York and Oregon. Its wineries now rely on direct sales from tasting rooms, mailing lists and over the Web to compete with larger rivals in other states.

There are 24 states that prohibit direct-to-consumer shipping of wine. Thirteen, including California, allow the direct shipping of wine to another state that allows the same privilege.

A bill now before the state legislature in Massachusetts, where wine shipment restrictions recently were overturned by a court, would allow consumers to purchase wine online or over the telephone and have it shipped directly to them. The bill seeks to allow wineries which produce 30,000 gallons or less of their product per year to take orders and ship wine directly to their consumers. But some lawmakers oppose the legislation because of the requirement that only smaller wineries can do direct shipments, and that it discriminates between larger and smaller wineries.

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