Massachusetts is one of the top five states when it comes to wine drinking, but there has also been a longstanding rule that prohibits direct delivers from wineries to consumers. Well, it’s time to celebrate Massachusetts wine lovers because ding-dong, the old law is dead!
There’s a new provision in the state’s budget and starting in January 2015, anyone 21 or older in Massachusetts can purchase wine directly from wineries that are licensed by the state to ship. Domestic wineries will be able to ship up to 12 cases of wine to each individual consumer and they have to pay $300 for a direct shipper’s license, as well as a $150 renewal fee every year after that. This makes Massachusetts the 42nd state to enact some form of direct to consumer shipping. The only other states that do not allow this are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Utah.
What got the ball rolling? The Associated Press (AP) reports that the new provision came on the heels of a spirited campaign by out-of-state producers and customers that recently received a major endorsement from former New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who operates Doubleback Winery in Washington state. Bledsoe visited the Statehouse in Massachusetts last year to push for the bill and he explained to lawmakers that he was having trouble providing samples to friends, fans, and former teammates – including Tom Brady, who had to have the wine shipped to his dad’s house in California because of the law in Massachusetts.
Everyone knows “Tom Brady” is the magic word for getting anything accomplished in the New England states, but it took so long for the bill to pass for two main reasons: liquor store owners were afraid of losing business, and the fear that it would be too easy for individuals under 21 to buy and drink alcohol. The American Wine Consumers Coalition also isn’t totally thrilled because the new law still prevents direct shipments of most international wines because they are only available in the U.S. through wine retailers, who remain barred from direct shipping under the law.
All the concerns and complaints seem pretty valid, but we think overall, this is a step in the right direction for Massachusetts and wineries nationwide.