Comptroller Peter Franchot released Tuesday a long-awaited report that wine enthusiasts hope will clear the way for legislation allowing wine-by-mail sales in Maryland. The report, ordered by state legislators, offered a detailed look at how 37 states and the District of Columbia have drafted and implemented laws permitting direct shipment of alcoholic beverages. It contains no overall policy recommendation, and Franchot emphasized that it was "a starting point for legislative debate."But direct-shipment supporters pointed to its main findings as bolstering their case. Mike Hyatt, owner of Wells Discount Liquors on York Road, said he would welcome the change, scoffing at the notion that it would cut into his wine sales. "Anything that promotes the wine business has got to be a very good thing long term for everyone," Hyatt said. "I think the amount of business done that way will be very small, and I think it will be with boutique wineries that are not currently represented by a wholesaler." Del. Tom Hucker, who has sponsored direct-shipment bills and plans to do so again, said the report should advance the cause of greater consumer choice.
Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun