The original bill to permit direct shipping of wine to the subjects of the State of Maryland and Liquor Distributors allowed for both wineries and retail outlets, and had minimal requirements to register.
The bill crafted behind closed doors by a few legislators and the liquor distribution lobby removed retailers altogether, and required a $1000 bond and $200 per year for wineries to register for the privilege to ship a legal product to grownups in Maryland.
With the restrictions on shipping going in to effect on Friday, just 11 wineries have applied.
Wine retailers are still not allowed to ship to consumers, which keeps popular Internet-based wine-of-the-month clubs off limits, though consumer advocates have vowed to continue lobbying Annapolis to allow retail delivery.
“If there’s a particular bottle that you want shipped, and it’s not offered by one of the wineries with a permit, you’re right back to the same problem as before the new law,” said Adam Borden, president of Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws.
“There were people who felt, let’s get this done right the first time. But the General Assembly was more, ‘One step at a time.'”
Borden said the cost to sign up, including the $200 yearly fee and a $100 annual insurance payment on the required $1,000 bond, might be prohibitive for many of the country’s smaller wineries.
Which is exactly what they wanted. Free State, indeed.