Pa. weighs policy on wine shipments from out of state

    State lawmakers are considering proposals that would allow out-of-state wineries to ship their wares directly to Pennsylvanians.

    It’s been at least a wine story a week at the Capitol, but Republican Sen. John Pippy of Allegheny and Washington counties says the legislation being debated has nothing to do with wine kiosks in supermarkets or whether the state sells off its liquor stores.

    “This is all about the ability for you, as a consumer, to order a bottle of wine from California or New York, and have it sent to your house. Whether we have a public, or a LCB system, or a private system, that issue still has to be addressed,” Pippy said.

    The state Liquor Control Board endorses direct-shipment legislation, so long as its intent is to provide wines that aren’t already in state stores.

    A lobbyist for the Wine Institute, a trade association representing California wineries, says other states have found that direct-shipment wine sales don’t cut into the profits of brick-and-mortar stores.

    New Jersey lawmakers have been wrangling with a similar issue.

    Much was made of the current 18 percent tax on wine and spirits collected by the LCB on its own merchandise.

    The board’s CEO says direct shipping sales would represent an “unbelievable boost” in state revenues.

    Those speaking for wineries say the levy is exorbitant.

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