Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Cooler Heads Prevail in Maryland

Rob Deford, president of Boordy Vineyards (right) and Del. Virginia P. Clagett raise their glasses after a news conference announcing the compromise on legislation regulating the sale of wine. (Sun photo by Kim Hairston) Apr 6, 2006

Complete disaster was averted in early April as a sane compromise was proposed and accepted by both parties. Smaller wineries won big, and the state’s three largest wineries we’re relatively unaffected. I was a great, great day in Maryland.

We can all breathe a sigh of relief! Read the excerpt from the Baltimore Sun or go to the Sun’s webpage at the URL below for the full story.

Wine bill compromise struck
Proposal allows most vineyards to sell to retailers

By Andrew A. Green
Originally published April 7, 2006, Baltimore Sun

Almost all Maryland wineries will retain the ability to sell directly to retailers and restaurants under a compromise reached with liquor wholesalers, averting what winemakers feared could have been a death knell for their fledgling industry.

Under the new proposal, which has the support of leaders in the General Assembly and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., wineries that produce less than 27,500 gallons annually will be eligible for a limited wholesaler's license. That would enable them to avoid contracting with a third-party wholesaler, which winemakers said is cost prohibitive for small operations.

The legislation is the result of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that said a state could not exempt its wineries from a three-tier system of regulation without extending the same privilege to out-of-state winemakers.

Owners of Maryland wineries gathered with legislators, Ehrlich, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele and others to offer a toast of thanks yesterday morning.

"Thank you all, from the governor to the legislature to everyone who supported us," Rob DeFord, owner of Boordy Vineyards in Baltimore County, said while raising a glass of Maryland wine. "Cheers!"

The 27,500 gallon cutoff allows 19 of Maryland's 22 wineries to continue selling as they were able to before the Supreme Court decision. The three larger wineries all use wholesalers already.

Read more at:,0,3534290.story?coll=bal-local-headlines