Senate puts a hold, again, on home wine delivery

Senate puts a hold, again, on home wine delivery

CUMBERLAND – State Sen. Ryan Pearson of Cumberland and Lincoln and Sen. Stephen Archambault of Smithfield and North Providence have signed on to a bill that would permit Rhode Island residents to have wine delivered directly to their homes, a privilege already enjoyed by residents of 34 states.

The bill, S-0291 was introduced on Feb. 15 by Sen. Adam Sachell of West Warwick and sent to the committee on Senate Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs.

It was held for further consideration on March 8, but Sachell told The Breeze he wasn’t giving up on it this year.

“I’m not calling it dead,” he told The Breeze.

As usual, he said, the liquor industry raised concerns about an erosion in liquor store sales.

“Their belief is that is that it will cause serious harm to liquor stores, but obviously it’s quicker to run to the store than order something. I think it will allow people to try wines they can’t get around here.”

Sachell, who first introduced this bill several years ago when he tried to send home wine from Napa Valley, is also pointing the taxes the state would collect. “It has to be a cool million easy,” he said.

The bill would allow a wine producer, supplier, importer, wholesale distributor or retailer to obtain a wine direct shipper license to ship up to 24 9-liter cases of wine annually directly to a Rhode Island resident who is at least 21 years old for personal use.

The recipient would be required to sign for the delivery and tax must be collected.

Offers for wine delivery are common on the internet these days, including by Amazon where deals from a variety of vineyards are featured.

This isn’t the first year that legislators have considered granting Rhode Islanders home delivery of their favorite Chardonnays and pinot noirs.

State Rep. Brian Newberry of North Smithfield sponsored a bill of this type several years in a row and suggested that he’s certain it would have passed before this, except that House leadership hasn’t let it out of committee.

“I think it’s a good piece of legislation,” he told The Breeze.

“It’s always blocked by a beverage lobby group,” he said.

Newberry says the argument he hears is that home delivery would undermine local liquor stores, but he says studies have found that home delivery “actually increases overall market share” and generates added business for the local package store.

“It would pass overwhelmingly,” he said.