Direct wine shipment coming soon to Maryland

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Local,Business,Maryland,Food and Drink,Erica Redmond
Maryland wine lovers soon will be able to join their neighbors in Virginia and the District by having wineries ship directly to their homes.

The Maryland Senate passed legislation making that legal Monday night, two days after the House of Delegates did the same. A spokesman for Gov. Martin O'Malley told The Washington Examiner on Tuesday that he will sign the bill into law.

For oeneophiles like Chris Hawley, this bill has been a long time coming. Hawley is a Havre de Grace resident and works in Alexandria for information technology company CSC. To help build his collection, Hawley has had to have wine shipped to his office, then taken it home.

"It's a good first step," said Hawley, who has been into wine collecting for 15 years and says he has nearly 300 bottles. "The wine I want shipped to my home is wine that's not from Maryland."

Thirty-six states and D.C. allow direct wine shipments.

However, Hawley does not think the Maryland bill goes far enough. It allows 18 shipments per year, but Maryland citizens are only allowed to buy wine shipped directly from wineries. The bill does not allow people to buy wine from retail outlets or auction houses.

Hawley said he will take advantage of the bill and order the maximum 18 shipments each year. Because he has been able to have the wine shipped to his Virginia office, Hawley said his buying habits aren't going to change because he still wants to support his local liquor stores.

Maryland state legislators will also be voting on a bill that would raise sales tax on beer, wine and liquor, a measure that is predicted to generate $90 million for the state. Hawley said the taxes will not affect his wine consumption, but they might change where he buys from.

"Everyday wine that my wife and I drink we'll still buy locally because I'm not going to pay shipping to get it. If they add taxes, I'm going to evaluate the tax situation to see where my best deal is. If shipping is my best deal, then I'll buy shipped wine," Hawley said.

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