Recently, the Pennsylvania Senate passed House Bill 189, which amends the Pennsylvania Liquor Code to permit wine producers to ship wine directly to Commonwealth residents and reduces the special liquor order markup for licensees. Before wine-makers can start shipping their wine, they will need to obtain a direct wine shippers license, which must be renewed on an annual basis. Once the license has been obtained, the licensee may ship an unlimited amount of wine to any Pennsylvania resident who is over the age of 21 for their personal use.

Of course, Bill 189 requires the recipient of the wine to provide proof of age prior to delivery. While the direct wine shipper must verify the buyer’s age in a manner approved by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, the PLCB’s website does not yet provide guidance on the specific method to be used. Under the current law, customers are required to pick up ordered wine at a Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits Shoppe where they must provide proof of age and complete an affidavit attesting to the use of the alcoholic beverage by someone of legal age. The shipped wine must include a special label which states: “Contains Alcohol: Signature of Person 21 Years of Age or Older Required for Delivery.”

Direct wine shippers must agree to collect the 6% sales tax, any local sales taxes imposed by counties of the second class or cities of the first class, the 18% liquor tax and shipping charges on all products shipped into and within the Commonwealth. The markup on Special Liquor Orders is reduced from 30% to 10%, which means restaurants and bars will pay less when ordering products that are unavailable at the state store. The PLCB projects the reduction could reduce revenue by approximately $16,500,000 annually based on the $67,000,000 in special liquor orders in 2013-2014. The reduction could also mean a more extensive selection of wine and spirits in Pennsylvania bars and restaurants.