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Pennsylvania Wine Shipping Laws

Updated on October 24, 2012

Shipping Wine from Out of State to PA

Believe it or not, a simple thing like shipping wine can be a huge headache. Let's say you're on vacation in California and you visit a winery and fall in love with an exquisite Merlot. You'd love to bring a bottle home for yourself, a friend, or a relative so you ask the winery to ship it for you. Or, let's say that you want to order wine over the Internet for the convenience. If you live in Pennsylvania or 10 other states, in most cases, you won't be allowed to ship the wine to your home state.

Why can't wine be shipped into Pennsylvania? In order to understand the reason, you need to go back to Pennsylvania's history and prohibition.

Be sure to check shipping laws in your state before buying wine when out of state.
Be sure to check shipping laws in your state before buying wine when out of state. | Source

Origins of PA Wine Shipping Laws

In order to understand Pennsylvania wine shipping laws, you must go back to 1933 and the repeal of prohibition. When the Federal government repealed prohibition, the individual States scrambled to create their own system of laws to restrict the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Pennsylvania's Governor at the time, Gifford Pinchot, designed and implemented what he thought would be a great solution. He established the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which mandated that all alcohol could be sold only by State run liquor stores and wholesalers. The LCB would also be in charge of regulating liquor licenses to restaurants and bars. In order to further discourage the consumption of alcohol, they allowed no advertising or displays and no liquor sales on Sunday.

Many other States followed suit, but over time they came to realize that this was an inefficient system. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania and some other States, including Utah, did not. These laws are still on the books despite being extremely outdated. In fact, many Pennsylvanian's routinely purchase wine, beer and spirits in New Jersey in order to get a better selection and pricing. What they may not realize is that even this seemingly innocent act could land them in jail for up to 90 days.

Several states, including PA, restrict wine shipments
Several states, including PA, restrict wine shipments | Source

Shipping Wine to Pennsylvania

So, where does all this leave you if you want to ship wine to Pennsylvania? Unfortunately, because of the laws established and maintained after prohibition, it's illegal to ship wine to Pennsylvania because all wine, beer, and spirits, by law, must be sold by the State Liquor Control Board.

There are some exceptions, although I'm sure you'll find that they aren't very accommodating.

  • If the wine you wish to purchase is not available from the Pennsylvania State run liquor stores, you are then allowed to purchase it over the Internet and have it shipped to a local PA Wine & Spirits store.
  • You must purchase the wine from an approved Direct Shipper, shown in the link above.
  • You may not purchase more than 9 Liters per month from a single Direct Shipper.
  • The shipment will be charged a $4.50 handling fee plus Pennsylvania's 18% liquor tax and the 6% sales tax on top of the shipping charge.

As you can see, these rules are very restrictive. It would surprise me if very many people actually take advantage of them.

What Does the Future Hold for Pennsylvania Wine Shipping Laws?

Pennsylvania's restrictive laws concerning alcoholic beverages have long been a source of criticism from those who live in the State. Although the State cites lower prices and higher levels of safety, most residents would love the convenience of being able to purchase alcohol at their grocery store, the ability to go to only one store if they want to purchase both beer and wine (beer is currently sold in a separate store from wine and spirits), and the ability to purchase beer in smaller pack sizes than a case.

Legislation to privatize the industry has been slow to come given that the State receives a boost to its budget from the sale of wine, beer and spirits. In June 2012, for example, proposed legislation went nowhere after hours of debate.

Perhaps some time in the future Pennsylvanian's will be given the freedom and convenience of shipping wine to their homes but that time seems to be a long time coming.


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    • jennabee25 profile image

      Jenn Dixon 3 years ago from PA

      I live in PA. A lot of our liquor laws are pretty archaic, though they are going to be starting to sell beer in a local grocery store near me. Little steps!

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Bankscottage - I also live in PA and am frustrated by the situation as well. I moved here from out of state and had so much more freedom and convenience when it came to purchasing wine and other alcoholic beverages in other states. It's definitely not in the best interests of the consumer.

    • bankscottage profile image

      bankscottage 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      SD, I live in PA and have lived your Hub most of my live. Friends and family from out of state don't understand why they can't go to gas station and buy beer or get beer, wine and liquor at the grocery store.

      There have been some improvements, due in part, to intense pressure from state residents that live near the state lines. Some state stores are now open on Sundays and a few select stores have very large selections of specialty wines (Chairman selections of special priced wine are not a bad deal). But, I do have to admit that I get frustrated when I travel, visit a winery, and can't send a few bottles home.

      It is clear that the rules that exist in PA do not exist for the benefit of the consumer.