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Official: Wine shipping plan includes limited winery changes

By , - Last modified: May 11, 2012 at 12:07 PM

Pennsylvania's wineries would have to comply with the same rules for out-of-state wine shippers that are outlined in a bill passed this week by a House committee, including remitting the state's 18 percent Johnstown Flood Tax, a legislative official said.

The state's limited wineries today are allowed to ship directly to an in-state customer's residence, and sales are not subject to the 18 percent tax, said Jennifer Eckinger, executive director of the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Winery Association.

They do not need a separate permit from their limited winery licenses to ship to customers in Pennsylvania, she said.

A limited winery license may be held by an in-state or out-of-state winery that produces no more than 200,000 gallons of alcoholic ciders, wines and wine coolers per year, according to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's website.

House Bill 845 would enable a broader segment of wine producers to ship directly to Pennsylvania customers who order their products, said Marcia Lampman, Republican executive director of the House liquor control committee.

The proposal reflects a need for Pennsylvania's rules to apply equally to in-state and out-of-state wine shippers, Lampman said. It comes from a U.S. Supreme Court decision that set a precedent for state laws, she said.

House Bill 845 would create a specific license to allow the broader segment of wine producers to directly ship products to Pennsylvania customers and make it mandatory for limited wineries to get the direct shipper license to sell that way, Lampman said.

The industry would like to see money come back to help promote Pennsylvania wineries if the state begins levying the 18 percent tax on their direct shipments to state residents, Eckinger said.

The businesses create far-reaching economic value in the areas where they operate, she said. Restaurants and lodging businesses, for example, benefit when people travel to an area to visit its wineries, Eckinger said.

The association is assessing how large the potential impacts would be on its members, she said.

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