Direct wine shipment bill returns to Senate Committee, passes

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Alabama could soon join 45 other states in allowing licensed wine manufacturers to ship wine directly to Alabama consumers.

Currently, the Yellowhammer States bans winery-to-consumer direct shipments. But proposed legislation would, if passed, allow adult consumers in Alabama to purchase a limited amount of wine directly from wineries licensed by the state to ship directly to their homes.

SB243, sponsored by Madison-Republican State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, was scheduled to be taken up earlier this month by the Senate Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development, but according to the committee’s chair, Rainbow City-Republican state Sen. Phil Williams, Holtzclaw postponed discussion of the bill to work out a few details with his Senate colleagues.

As introduced, the bill would limit the amount of wine that a producer could ship to any individual at 24 cases per year, each case not exceeding nine liters of wine, and would require the purchaser be verified to be 21 years of age.

SB243 returned to the committee on Wednesday where it passed 7-5, thanks in part to the pressure on lawmakers to act on behalf of their constituents created by Free the Grapes!, an advocacy and consumer outreach nonprofit that urged Alabamians to write the lawmakers ahead of the previously schedule committee hearing. According to their numbers, 669 Alabamians urged their state lawmakers to support the legislation in the first few weeks of January.

It now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

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