Maryland wine aficionados have reason to celebrate this month.
It’s been a year since the state repealed the ban on home wine delivery. That’s been a boon to some state vineyards that no longer have to ship wines using third-party distributors or rely solely on on-site sales to peddle their vino.
Boordy Vineyards in Baltimore County has taken advantage of the new law. It was among the first to apply for a shipping permit and has seen a boost in business.
“It’s taken off really well,” said Assistant Vineyard Manager Phineas Deford. “There has definitely been a jump in direct shipment orders, and we’ve also started a wine club.”
The majority of Boordy wines are listed between $10 and $16 on its website. Shipping fees depend on the volume of bottles purchased.
Maryland wineries pay a $200 annual fee as well as post a $1,000 bond to obtain a shipping permit.
Deford said Boordy has not seen a decrease in in-store sales of its wine, supporting the evidence that direct shipping does not threaten the livelihood of wine retailers.
“We encourage the customer to look for wine in stores,” said Deford.
Overall, Boordy has benefitted greatly from the repeal of the shipping ban, Deford said.
“We’re very glad the law was passed.”
Passage of the law took several years and was met with opposition.
“There were very strong interests against the change,” said Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Maryland Wine Association. “The primary argument was we’ve never allowed it so why should we now?”
One concern was that if direct shipping was permitted, consumers would no longer go to wine stores, which could threaten their survival.
“I think that’s been proven to be false,” said Atticks. “Since the fight began in 1980, 29 states allowed shipping, and no wine shippers or wholesalers went out of business in those states.”
Data suggest that because of the permitting process, direct wine shipping also increased tax revenue for those states, said Atticks.
In Maryland, the new law has opened the door for wineries to get their product to a larger market.
“It’s created new opportunities for wine clubs and more niche marketing for certain wineries,” Atticks said.
While many wineries have been shipping since the ban was lifted last year, others are still waiting to make their move.
Mark Cascia, owner of Cascia Vineyards on Kent Island, says he has not yet applied for a permit.
“We’ve been here since 2005, and we’ve been working on building a tasting room for six to seven years now,” said Cascia. “We just finished two weeks ago and haven’t done a lot of promotion of wines yet.”
As a member of the Maryland Wine Association, Cascia supported passage of the law last year. However, he still has some research to do before he applies for a permit.
“I haven’t quite figured out what I’m supposed to do in terms of how to get a shipping license,” said Cascia. “I’ll go through every avenue that I can if people are interested in getting their wine shipped.”