Legislature opts to study direct wine shipment

The Alabama Legislature has decided to create a task force to study the impact of allowing wine to be shipped directly to Alabama consumers. Tuesday, the Alabama House agreed with the Senate and sent SJR64 by Sen. J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills to the governor. Direct wine shipment legislation has died in previous sessions, most recently in 2017.

The task force is to determine the benefits of direct shipment “while protecting current businesses and ensuring that alcohol is delivered in a responsible manner,” according to the resolution. The group is to report its findings by Dec. 1, 2020.

The nine-member task force will include a licensed Alabama wine manufacturer, distributor and retailer as well as a representative of a shipping and delivery business. The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control board will also have a representative. The other members will be lawmakers.

The group, which is to conduct at least two public hearings, is to look at other states’ direct shipment laws, especially states that have a three-tier system for alcohol sales – manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

The four bills that had been awaiting floor debate at the time this resolution passed were:

  • HB350 by Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, and SB274 by Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, similar, but not identical bills, that would have allowed an already licensed wine manufacturer or an entity with a federal basic wine manufacturing permit to obtain a wine direct shipper permit from the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board.
  • SB234 by Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, which would have allowed licensed small farm wineries to self-distribute their table wines to licensed retailers or to sell directly to adult consumers. The wineries could also contract with a third-party common carrier for deliveries.
  • SB271 by Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Centre, which would have allowed small craft wineries or breweries to deliver their product to adults in areas where alcohol sales are already allowed in Alabama.

Companion bills, HB519 / SB368, create a delivery service permit that would allow such services to deliver sealed containers of liquor, beer and wine sold for off-premise consumption to adult Alabamians. Neither has received committee approval, but the House bill is on a committee agenda for next week.

This article is part of the Alabama Retail Report, a communication for Alabama Retail Association members. Not a member? Join us!

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