EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

July 12, 2014

Mass. wine lovers raise a glass to direct shipping law

BOSTON (AP) — Whether it’s pinot noir, merlot, chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon, wine lovers in Massachusetts will soon be able to have some of their favorite bottles shipped straight from the vineyards to their homes.

A provision in the new state budget lifts a long-standing prohibition on direct deliveries from wineries to consumers. It follows 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 a winery in Washington state.

The law won’t take effect until Jan. 1, but connoisseurs in a state with one of the nation’s highest per capita wine consumption rates are anxious to enjoy the convenience of ordering brands that are currently difficult or impossible to find on local store shelves.

“It definitely opens the door to us wine geeks to have, right on our doorsteps, these cool, funky, small-producers’ wines,” said Lorraine Martinelle, of Worcester.

Although she’s made frequent trips to wine country in California and abroad, the best Martinelle said she could do was to have her favorites shipped to her friend’s home in neighboring Connecticut.

According to Free the Grapes, an industry-backed group based in Napa, California, direct wine shipping occurs in all but nine other states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Utah.

“It’s about consumer choice,” said Jeremy Benson, a spokesman for Free the Grapes, who added that wine lovers from Massachusetts had been among the most vocal of those in states with direct shipping bans.

Under the new law, domestic wine producers will initially pay $300 for a direct shipper’s license, with a $150 renewal fee each subsequent year. Shippers may deliver no more than 12 cases of wine (containing no more than 9 liters per case) to each person in a year.

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