Finally! After years of waiting, Maryland wine lovers will soon be able to send wine home from their California vacation, thanks to a new law approved by the state legislature in the session just ended.
In a time when the economy is still struggling, Congress can barely manage to keep the federal government going, and Japan tries to cope with the devastation caused by last month's earthquake and tsunami, it seems somewhat parochial and selfish to crow about direct shipping. But it has been a frustrating effort as we Marylanders waited to join the residents of 37 other states and the District of Columbia who already can have wine shipped directly to their homes. For years, we've been denied this by the greedy wholesalers' lobby, which predicted doom and gloom if direct shipping were to become law, and which only begrudgingly agreed to this year's legislation.
It's not a total victory - we can't order wine from out-of-state retailers, for example. And the legislature wouldn't approve corkage bills that would have allowed diners to bring their own wine to Maryland restaurants. But we'll take it.
Kudos to Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws and the Maryland Wineries Association for their efforts over the years to make this law a reality. And cheers to the lawmakers who took a positive step forward. (Even if you did raise the alcohol tax ... )
More details on the new direct shipping legislation are in my Washington Post column for April 6.