When will Massachusetts legislators smarten up and start changing antiquated laws restricting wine? We all know the difficulties and prohibitions against shipping wine into Massachusetts. But other restrictive laws exist as well and need to be changed. We need to support one current effort to change such a law.
Senator Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, is the lead sponsor of a bill that would permit wine tastings and sales at farmers' markets. It also includes provision for beer and distilled spirits, though the primary aim is for wine. The bill has yet to receive a formal hearing. This bill is supported by a group representing Massachusetts wine makers as well as state agriculture officials.
With all of the farmers markets now around, this would open up a larger market for local wines, especially as those who patronize such markets often give much support to local producers. These markets would have to apply for a liquor license and enforce underage drinking laws.
Who opposes this bill? Well, some of the strongest opposition comes from liquor store owners. They allege the law would make it easier for underage teenagers to obtain alcohol. This argument does not really seem to be supported by the evidence. How many Massachusetts wineries, which have tasting rooms, have ever been cited for serving underage teenagers? I very much doubt that has ever been a serious problem.
As most local liquor and wine stores usually don't stock a significant amount of Massachusetts wine, they would not really lose much business if this bill was passed. They should be supporting this bill, helping our local wineries. There are currently 34 licensed wineries in Massachusetts and more will likely start in the future. They are all small producers, and can use all the help they can get in marketing and selling their wine. So give them the ability to sell at farmer's markets.
What are your thoughts?