Choice for Maryland drinkers

Choice for Maryland drinkers

Monday, January 11, 2010; A14

The Dec. 24 editorial "No sale" reflected a poor understanding of the history and purpose of America's alcoholic beverage distribution system. The deregulation espoused would come at the expense of that system, which has created the safest, most vibrant and innovative marketplace for alcoholic beverages in the world.

Perhaps the most troubling assertion was that "through an antiquated regime known as the three-tiered system, producers, wholesalers and retailers act in cahoots to stymie consumers and limit selection by banning direct shipments from wineries to Marylanders' homes."

To set the record straight: Wine and spirits wholesaler-distributors bring tens of thousands of brands and varieties of wine and spirits from all over the world to local bars, restaurants, hotels and package stores. Maryland consumers have more variety at their fingertips than consumers in any country outside the United States. The editorial also belittled the industry's concerns about underage access, yet tacitly acknowledged that minors do use direct shipping via the Internet to buy alcohol.

Alcohol is different; it's not books, CDs or clothing. It should -- and must -- be treated differently, and the three-tier approach is the safest, most accountable distribution system because at the end of the chain, the purchase takes place face to face, and a licensed retailer can determine the purchaser's age.

Craig Wolf, Washington

The writer is president and chief executive of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America.


tmcquighan wrote:
The wholesale industry president misses the point that MD consumers desire wine law reform to augment, not replace, the three-tier system with legal, regulated direct shipments from wineries and online stores. The Post did get it right when it states that MD laws remain as they are because of payments by the industry to politicians.
1/12/2010 11:55:19 PM
SydneyP wrote:
I think we know whose interest Mr Wolf is interested in serving. How disingenuous can you get? Wolf obviously has no shame. Thanks to the Post for allowing Wolf unwittingly to embarrass himself in public!

BTW, could Craig Wolf tells us what fraction of our wine dollar goes to meddling villains who knowingly interfere with what is right?
1/11/2010 7:20:05 PM
Oh and I almost forgot. Not only does this corrupt system affect the off sale purchases it also inhibits restaurants from being able to buy and then sell at reasonable prices. Putting unnecessary layers in the process drives the price up manifold. Just look at the prices. that money is not going to any purpose other than lining pockets for no service rendered. Kind of like health insurance companies.
1/11/2010 4:53:11 PM
Yes we have more choices for wine than they do in in Iraq. Whoop dee doo. Children aren't going to order even a $20 bottle to be shipped to them. Maryland, in particular Montgomery County, is wine hell. Especially compared to DC which is one of the best locations in the nation to buy wine. I'm sure no one would drive to DC to buy anything. It's all about greed. Pure and simple.
1/11/2010 4:47:36 PM
vinnyp wrote:
This has to be one of the weakest letters I have seen in some time.

The point is not how much "choice" we currently have, but that there are many vintages that are not available in Maryland because they are limited production or available only at the winery or to the wineries' clubs. We enjoy traveling to Napa about once a year and we always find great wines that are not available in Maryland that we would like to enjoy once we are home. There is only so much you can carry on a plane.

Teenagers are not buying $100 bottles of wine from out of state using a credit card. They are getting their buddy (or a stranger) to buy beer at the liquor store on the corner. How is the 3 tier system addressing that?

No one is trying to encourage underage drinking, avoid taxes, or any of the other so called problems that this bill would address. We simply want access to unique products that out of state businesses would like to sell us.

The current system is opposed by everyone except wholesalers. They fail to address that without reciprocity, Maryland wineries are not allowed to ship out of the state either, hurting their business.

Oh, let's not forget that all of this is simply (well, not so simply) avoided by having your wine shipped to another state that permits wine shipping and then traveling there to pick it up. So, Virginia/DC/??? gets the tax revenue, not Maryland.

Unfortunately, the wholesale liquor lobby is one of the best funded lobbies in the state and contributes heavily to the campaigns of our representatives. So, reps, let's see if you represent your constituents or your contributors...
1/11/2010 4:32:38 PM
ezag1 wrote:
Its interesting how the issue of hurting small businesses in MD, i.e. wineries, was not addressed. Nor how the system is structured to support the wholesalers. Also the 12/24 editorial addressed the underage drinking issue very clearly. Other states do it and the sky didn't fall. Amazing. Its all smoke and mirrors designed to limit choice and support their bottom line. Free the Grapes!
1/11/2010 3:38:37 PM
jeff80 wrote:
There is no evidence that internet shipping will increase (or has ever resulted in an increase) in underage drinking! All this represents is a way for distributors to retain their de-facto monopoly and restrict wine lovers from enjoying the wine of their choice and the competition of a free marketplace.
1/11/2010 3:37:03 PM
What a crock! Dozens of states allow shipment of wine and Maryland should to. Just another antiquated obstacle to commerce that's enriching someone's pockets.
1/11/2010 12:15:26 PM

tslats wrote:
How cutely this is written.

Distributers bring tens of thousands of brands to ... where? Maryland? The world?

MD consumers have more variety than consumers in any other country. Country? I thought we were talking about other states.

And there's more.

Creative writing.

I didn't read the original editorial but after reading this 'response' I'm all for what the editorial called for.
1/11/2010 9:09:03 AM

Wineries with Permits

Wineries Able to Ship to MD

Here is a link to the Comptroller's website. Search for "DW-Direct Wine Shippers Permit" under permit type.

Search for wineries


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