Sunday, July 6, 2014
The FY2015 Massachusetts State Budget has left the State Senate and is now ready for Governor Deval Patrick's signature. If approved it could finally mean winery direct shipments to Massachusetts consumers will be a legal reality.
Patrick previously said he would sign a bill enabling the direct shipment of wine if it ever made it to his desk. But he's likely going to be considering bigger issues than wine shipment when considering this issue. That's because wine shipment was shrewdly buried within the entire state budget.
The Governor has 10 days to review the budget and take action to either approve or veto the budget. The Governor may approve or veto the entire budget, veto or reduce specific line items, veto outside sections or submit changes as an amendment to the budget for further consideration by the Legislature.
Source: Massachusetts Budget Process
In reviewing the changes the budget would bring to the relevant sections of Massachusetts law it's clear the intent is to establish a framework to allow the direct shipment of wine. But it's not clear whether all of the regulatory hurdles will be sufficiently removed so as to allow shipments to occur. Specifically the sticking point of per-truck licensure of FedEx/UPS trucks.
From this Boston Globe piece out last week it appears I'm not alone:
Boston Globe: Online Wine Could Finally Come to Massachusetts Drinkers
FedEx said "no comment". UPS said it's too early to tell. And Jeff Carroll from Ship Compliant (who has forgotten more about wine shipping laws than I'll ever know) agrees it's unclear whether the proposed changes will collectively and fully enable direct shipments.
In an effort to keep things high level I shared:
“This is good news for Massachusetts wine enthusiasts, who will now be able to purchase wines they currently don’t have access to,” said Robert Dwyer of Wellesley, who blogs about wine. “This is also good news for Massachusetts in general since it will mean new revenues.”
Best case, winery direct shipments will start occurring next year. Retailer shipments (which would be even more beneficial to wine enthusiasts) are not included in this bill which is a shame. Because it means access to imported wines won't improve one bit with these changes.
So file this under "progressing well" but we're still not home free. Still - I'm very pleased with this progress because these recent developments are the most tangible positive progress we've seen on this front in a long time.
Subscribe to The Wellesley Wine Press to keep up with future updates.
PS I was in Tuscany on vacation last week and visited some benchmark producers. Tenuta Sette Ponti, Casanova di Neri, La Gerla, and Felsina. I tasted a bunch, learned a lot, and got some great pictures. Can't wait to tell you about them.