Just in time for Tax Day, the Maryland General Assembly, on the last day of the 2010 legislative assembly, unanimously passed the The Maryland Winery Modernization Act. Industry members and advocates hailed the bill, saying it will unburden the Maryland wine industry from Prohibitionist-era shackles and bring the state’s industry into parity with those of other wine-producing states.
While a much-hoped for provision allowing direct shipping to adult wine consumers was NOT part of the bill, Maryland wine producers are still greatly pleased that it will enable the following things which were previously prohibited:
- Wineries can sell their wines at farmers markets
- Wineries can purchase and transport bulk wine from one another
- Wineries can produce their wines at other bonded facilities
- Wineries may produce up to 1,900 gallons of brandy annually (either for fortification–as with port-style wines–or for artisanal grappa-style spirits)
Aside from the first provision, the other provisions of the bill are mostly regulatory in nature and affect the freedom with which wineries can make, blend, and transport their products, something producers in most any other industry except nuclear power can do without much thought to state government regulation on a scale endured by the Maryland wine industry since Prohibition.
Note: some Maryland wines will be poured at the upcoming Drink Local Wine conference at Lansdowne Resort in Loudoun County, which is situated within sight of the Maryland/Virginia state line on the shore of the Potomac River. For more information on the conference, speakers and schedule, please visit www.drinklocalwine.com.