June 10, 2016 — At last Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe has signed legislation loosening the grip of the state’s control over the sale of wine. PA is now the 44th state to allow Direct Shipping to Consumers (DTC). The state is the 12th largest wine market in the country so out-of-state wineries have something to celebrate along with residents of Pennsylvania who now have a choice. Furthermore, it permits hotels and restaurants (including grocery stores with in-store restaurants) to obtain a license to sell up to 4 bottles of wine per consumer per day for off-premise consumption and also allows Sunday sales at all Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) stores. Currently, Sunday sales are limited to 25% of stores.
The law is being hailed as “historic” and it is. Prohibition ended in 1933 so it is good to see that Pennsylvania is slowly edging into the 20th century. A few more changes and they might make it into the 21st. The new law does limit the amount of wine a winery can ship to 36 cases annually per customer after they have paid the fee and obtained a license. Another regulation that the bill addresses allows PLCB to offer flexible pricing on top wine and spirits brands within parameters to be defined. A “Commission”, yet to be created, will be responsible for preparing a report for the legislature in six months on potential privatization of the wholesale and retail functions of the PLCB.
Local Pennsylvania wineries are likewise jubilant. They can now place their products in nearby grocery stores, etc. so that their customers no longer have to trek to the tasting room to purchase product. They can also send their wine to out-of-state tourists from states where direct shipping is permitted. In the past, wineries that also make spirits had to taste products in separate rooms with separate cash registers. Now business can be conducted in the same room.
The PA House voted overwhelming for the law 157-31. It goes into effect in 60 days and it is a win-win for small business and consumers.