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Direct wine shipments could flow to commonwealth

Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Direct shipment of wine to consumers would become legal under a bill that passed the state Senate today by a 29-5 vote with one legislator abstaining.

The measure, known as Senate Bill 99, would make Kentucky the 46th state to legalize direct wine shipments.

Sponsor Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, said SB 99 was amended to address concerns from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Kentucky. Representatives of the group testified earlier in the week that the original version of SB 99 might allow unscrupulous wineries to gain an economic advantage by dodging state taxes on the libations they direct ship.

Wise said the amended SB 99 was, in part, an economic development bill.

“Wine is booming in the United States,” Wise said. “It is also booming in the commonwealth of Kentucky. Forty years ago, Kentucky only had 40 acres of wine grapes in commercial vineyards. Now, 600 acres, over 70 licensed wineries and 150 growers make up the state’s wine industry. It has become a very significant ‘Kentucky Proud’ product that our commonwealth should be very proud of.”

Wise said a second benefit would be to Kentuckians who might be yearning for the bouquet of their favorite wine from California, Oregon, Washington or other wine-growing states. He said SB 99 would allow these oenophiles to become members of wine clubs or have wine shipped back from out-of-state wine vacations.

Direct shipment of wine now makes up 80 percent of all red wine shipped in the United States, Wise said. He added that the 45 states allowing direct wine shipments represent 94 percent of the total U.S. population.

“I have heard from many constituents from across the commonwealth who would like Kentucky to join those other states,” Wise said.