Maryland Wine Shipping

The wine shipping bill is in trouble....once again. So send your letters to your Senators and Delegates. It appears that Senator Conway is the roadblock. So if you live in Baltimore City or know someone who lives in the city have them call, write, e-mail, and fax her office in support of the bill. There is a House and a Senate hearing on March 5! I am going to try and get to the hearings, and I have written my representatives about the roadblock.


Here is Senator Conway's information:

Democrat, District 43, Baltimore City
Miller Senate Office Building, 2 West Wing
11 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 841-3145, (301) 858-3145
1-800-492-7122, ext. 3145 (toll free)

This comes from and their facebook page

Here is some condensed information from Adam Borden:

Wine Shipping & Senator Conway’s Wrath
Posted by Adam Borden at 6:59pm on February 17th, 2010
Many of you probably saw last week’s Baltimore Sun article in which Senator Joan Carter Conway, chair of the committee that hears alcohol bills, went on the record saying that the wine shipping bill “is not going anywhere” despite having a majority of her own committee and both chambers supporting the legislation.

Did this make you angry? Some of our other members got pretty upset. Here’s what they had to say:

“To stop a bill from being voted on is to dishonor democracy.”

“I am truly concerned that you only represent the interests of liquor distributors, whose pockets must certainly be deep.”

“As one of her constituents, Monday's story about Sen. Joan Carter Conway's opposition to the direct wine shipping legislation infuriated me. It is inherently wrong and undemocratic that a bill with 108 of 188 legislators' signatures is being held in a drawer by the committee chair when six of nine of her committee members are co-sponsors … As a voter in the Free State, Chairwoman Conway's refusal to allow this bill to have a vote in her committee is a slap in the face to Maryland's legislative process … she has already lost my vote in the upcoming election; how many more will she lose from taking this stand?”

Email Chairman Davis & Vice-Chair Rudolph (

Lastly, we need more help getting the word out to all parts of the state. Please let me know if you would be willing to contact some of your fellow citizens from our membership roles to urge them to contact their officials. Now is crunch time! Our hearing is March 5th, and all hands are needed on deck.
Original Post
Here is some more information on the Maryland Wine Shipping Bill. The SB566 is stuck in the Education, Health and Environmental Affair committee. I have written to all of the members of the committee asking for their support. The members of the Education, Health and Environmental Affair committee are:

Chair -

Members -,,,,,,,,

The free the grapes web site has a great option to write your local representatives – go to:
Please be sure to sign up for additional updates on the Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws website ( as the situation changes week by week.

Adam Borden
Executive Director
Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws
4315 Underwood Road
Baltimore, MD 21218
Tel: (443) 570-8102
Contact Legislator:
I have condensed some interesting comments regarding the wine shipping bill. This is from the Feb 8, 2010 article in the Baltimore Sun written by Julie Bykowicz.

Most Maryland lawmakers, a swath of Democrats and Republicans from across the state, want adults to be able to have bottles of wine shipped to their homes, something that's legal in 37 other states. When it was filed last week, a bill repealing the quarter-century-old direct-shipping ban included the signatures of 106 of the 188 state legislators.

"In a logical world, that kind of support would indicate that a bill is about to pass," said Sen. Jamie Raskin, a Montgomery County Democrat and proponent of what's affectionately known as the "Free the Grapes" campaign.

But the proposal, as in years past, "is not going anywhere," according to the leader of the Senate committee that determines its fate.
Sen. Joan Carter Conway, a Baltimore Democrat and chairwoman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, said she has too many concerns to bring the bill up for a vote, though six of the nine committee members are co-sponsors.

"Conceptually, it's a good thing," Conway said of the proposal. "There are a few things I'm hung up on, and I don't think those can all be resolved this year."

(But here is probably the primary reason for her opposition)

Bruce C. Bereano, a lobbyist for the Licensed Beverage Distributors of Maryland, says of the bill.

The wine-shipping legislation would require manufacturers who import to be licensed, but Bereano says such a system would "not be a meaningful substitute" for liquor inspectors charged with the authority to shut down a business selling to underage customers.
But some proponents of the direct-shipping bill question whether she is too personally tied to the system to be fair.

Her husband, Vernon "Tim" Conway, is a city liquor inspector since 1995 who made $67,000 in his position last year, according to city records…….

So there you have it…….she is afraid that underage folks won’t have their ID’s checked when they get their screaming eagle allocation. Which is weird as I have a friend who gets his wine shipped to Virginia to his office, and they check his ID every time. She is afraid that the state would not be able to control the wine companies although they would be licensed. So I guess when the wine companies run amok selling wine in Maryland the state couldn’t figure out how to revoke a license.

We are up against a powerful lobby and a powerful lobbyist, and a powerful committee chair, but the public support is strong. It needs to grow so send your letters to your representatives. Send a letter to Senator Conway and the whole committee. If you are on these forums and live in Maryland we deserve better. I for one would like to stop living in what is known as the “felony state” among the wine industry. Mark your calendars, lets march to Annapolis on March 5 for the hearings.
The Senate hearing which is probably more important has been moved to Mar 17 at 1 PM. The House hearing is still March 5 at 1 PM. The more people the better it would be. Hopefully everyone has written letters to "our" representatives. A good showing at the Statehouse would be wonderful.
Thanks Habu for keeping us closely informed. You and Irwin and the work of other forum members have kept this issue in the public eye - something the opposition can’t stand.

Having worked the halls in Annapolis on other issues, I know the last thing they want is constant public exposure and pressure. Fighting this has cost them a lot of money and with each passing session they realize we are never, ever going to go away. has finally passed both houses.
The law isn't perfect. (few are). But it provides that a winery which wishes to ship to Marylanders must pay a fee of $200 per year (and fill out a form I suppose). A Marylander can purchase up to 18 cases per year from any wineries that have ponied up the $200.
The wineries must collect and pay the Comptroller the tax. The shipper must file a quarterly report indicating what has been shipped and to whom.
Shipments may only go through qualified "common carriers" who must also register and pay an annual fee of $100. (I guess this means UPS,etc.)
No shipments from retailers, though.

So, after many years, the law finally passes, and actually, I think passed both houses unanimously. Here is a link to the new law:
The new law takes effect 7/1/11.
To read about the bill, which O'Malley told us he'll sign, go here.

Personally, 90 percent or more of the wine I buy to have shipped is from out-of-state retail locations, auctions, or private sellers. So this soon-to-be-law is only a start of where we need to be in Maryland, but it is a start.
Originally posted by dinwiddie:
So if the winery pays the fees etc., I can have them ship to me, but I'm still going to have anything from a retailer shipped to an undisclosed office in DC. Mad

Exactly. Roll Eyes I buy very little directly from wineries. To have some wine shipped to me, then to have the privelege of paying taxes on those purchases, and still needing to drive to DC or VA to pick up my wines purchased from retailers just doesn't fly. All my wines will be shipped out of state until MD gets their act together. It's just simpler and cheaper, and gives me the chance to have a glass of wine with my out of state enablers.....


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