A regulatory change could mean more Pennsylvania-made wines on the shelves at Pennsylvania wine and spirit stores.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board on Monday announced it has eliminated a requirement that the state’s 150 licensed wineries could not sell wine at their winery for less than that same bottle sells for at a Fine Wine & Good Spirits store in the state.
“Previously, Pennsylvania wineries had to sell their wine to the PLCB for a significant discount to account for the agency’s markup and liquor tax,” PLCB Chairman Joseph E. Brion said in a release. “We believe that requirement impacted what wine our in-state wineries sold to us. It is our hope the change will encourage wineries to expand their selection in our stores to benefit consumers and the industry as a whole.”
Currently, the PLCB sells more than 100 Pennsylvania wines. In addition, in 2013 the agency launched the PA Preferred program, adding 43 new Pennsylvania wines to a select number of Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores.
Under the program, PA Preferred wineries are allowed to submit up to 10 wines to sell at up to 10 Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores of their choosing. But there are only 12 wineries participating.
Bartolai Winery owner Ray Bartolai said the change will make it more likely that he’ll be able to get his wine into other areas.
“I would love to be able to have the opportunity to have my wine distributed in the state store system,” said Bartolai, who operates the family winery on Route 92 in Harding, Exeter Township.
Sal Maiolatesi, who owns his namesake winery in Scott Township, Lackawanna County, said he has been contemplating selling some of his best-selling varieties at state stores, but so far the numbers weren’t adding up. He said a bottle he sells for $10 at his store would have to be sold to the state for less than $6 and doing so made no business sense.
But with the regulatory change in place, doing so now becomes much more attractive, he said.
“Absolutely it does,” said Maiolatesi, who also has retail outlets in Mayfield and Hawley. “This may give us the opportunity outside the market.”
PLCB board members Robert S. Marcus and Tim Holden issued statements lauding the changes.
The decision comes just a few weeks after the board also announced it would discontinue its own in-house wine brand TableLeaf.
Maiolatesi said state vintners were “not happy” when the LCB debuted the brand.
“It shows, as does this latest announcement, the state is starting to realize that people want locally made products and should be making things easier, not harder, for that to happen,” Maiolatesi added.