Friday, May 18, 2007

Wine In The Woods

It's hard to miss all the purple banners hanging around Symphony Woods these days: Columbia's annual Wine in the Woods event gets underway this weekend, from noon to 6p on Saturday and Sunday. The festival is one of the best ways to sample Maryland wines (18 of 20 state wineries will be on hand), especially since the state does not allow people to have wine shipped to them.

Here's an excerpt from a posting on the industry's Web site, written after the Supreme Court ruled that direct shipping is permissible (just not in Maryland's case).

"A small winery can make 10-15% additional revenue by shipping wines to consumers. And in many direct-ship states, retail stores are also allowed to ship. These stores have quickly found vast new revenue by creating their own wine-of-the-month clubs.

An interesting element of the Supreme Court’s opinion is that it quickly dismissed the two primary concerns about direct shipping – that taxes cannot be collected, and that minors will use the system to obtain alcohol. The justices clearly noted that neither of these concerns are justified, based on years of experience in states that allow the shipping of wine.

The justices also noted that commerce has changed since the repeal of Prohibition – and that Internet, phone and catalog sales have become status quo. States must come to understand this, and let the wine flow across state lines.

So what about Maryland? For now, neither Maryland wineries – nor those from outside our state line – may ship wine to Maryland consumers. While this is likely to change in the coming years under pressure from other states’ wine industries, Maryland wine lovers must log-off the computer, hang up the phone, and stick to the law by purchasing wines the old-fashioned way: with their feet."