Uncovering Pennsylvania Wine For Palate Press (And Thoughts On PA’s Liquor Privatization)

Vinted on July 3, 2013 binned in on the road

A quick hit today to let you know that my take on the state of Pennsylvania wine (yes, we do make wine here in the land of scrapple) is now published over at PalatePress.com. If you’re curious as to why and how an apparently paradoxical wine market can exist in which small producers struggle both to keep their very grapes alive every year and to vie for critical recognition, and yet also can practically sell out every vintage, then go on over to Palate Press and read all about it.

The publishing of that article (which was about a year in the making) comes at an interesting time, when the Pennsylvania congress is in heated battle to progress legislation that would finally repeal Prohibition largely do away with its current state-run monopoly on liquor sales and distribution and thus make PA marginally less of a laughing stock among wine lovers in the U.S.

It’s been interesting to watch who has jockeyed for which special interests during the PA privatization fall-out. The unions associated with the PA Liquor Control Board particularly have had their haunches up, since any changes would either mean that they’d be losing jobs, or having to compete in more of an open market (in which case, they will almost certainly also end up losing jobs, since, as most people shopping for wine in PA would likely tell you, there’s no way in hell they’d be able to compete against providers that actually supply good customer service and actually close locations that don’t make a profit).

This quote, recently reported after the near-all-nighter that the PA congress held in moving the current privatization bill forward, in so far as it sums up the hard-line stances being taken in the debate, is one of my faves; primarily because it flies so dramatically in the face of common sense for anyone who has spent more than six minutes shopping for wine in a control state:

“The current system works. It works very well. It adds new dollars to the state’s economy. It grows every year,” Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, said. “This was the opposite direction … wrong bill, wrong idea, wrong direction.”

Uhm… Mr. Hughes, it also totally sucks donkey bong, is blatantly anti-consumer, and doesn’t actually deliver on any of its claims of increasing safety. But that’s okay, because it makes us money, right?  Talk about a “wrong idea.” Long-time 1WD readers know that I basically got too “hoarse” screaming about the PLCB here in the past, and so I will spare you the shouting today (if you’re interested in some PLCB ranting, take a look back through the archives).

There’s still a loooong way to go to get to successful liquor privatization, as the recent but I’ve finally acquiesced to accepting baby-steps-style progress, which in this case is arguably better than living in the wine sales dark ages. PA’s privatization might indeed be delayed, but momentum is a powerful thing in politics…






  • James Juiyce

    Woo-ha! Sounds like you folks in PA are having the same nets full of red herring thrown at you as the entrenched liquor mafia -er, I mean, distributors threw at us in Washington State. We got in the last toss, however. Thanks in large part to Costco, who funded the signature gathering, we threw the bums out a year ago. Yeah, we're still waiting for prices to come down (a 17% distributor tax/bribe comes off the books shortly), but we're no longer restricted to state-owned stores when we want a bottle of hooch. And the State is still making money hand over fist, because — that's right — wider availability has led to more liquor sales.

    What completely blows my mind is that PA forces you to buy WINE from its own stores. WTF? Who ever heard of such nonsense? How do the local wineries get anywhere with that kind of eno-fascism going on? Now you know why I bring at least one bottle of high-end Washington State juice with me whenever I visit. If I didn't, my pals in PA would never know it existed.

    • 1WineDude

      James – thanks (love the name, btw…). I think PA's slow climb out of Prohibition and into Privatization is inevitable. The existing entrenchment is well-funded but now is too obviously anti-consumer to survive long-term in an age when information is so freely shared. It will topple, for the same reason that totalitarian regimes topple, because it's predicated on lack of information, which is no longer a viable option.

  • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple

    Oh that would be awesome. I grew up in PA and now I live in Cali. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to send a bottle to my parents or friends back in PA.

  • cono_sur

    Hey Joe – Ever hear about our system here in Ontario?

    • 1WineDude

      Ohhhhhh yeah. Even tried buying a few bottles there once. Terrible process.

The Fine Print

This site is licensed under Creative Commons. Content may be used for non-commercial use only; no modifications allowed; attribution required in the form of a statement "originally published by 1WineDude" with a link back to the original posting.

Play nice! Code of Ethics and Privacy.

Contact: joe (at) 1winedude (dot) com





Sign up, lushes!

Enter your email address to subscribe and get all the good stuff via email.

Join 36,926 other subscribers