Privatization Could Open Doors for PA Winemakers

Gov. Corbett’s push for state liquor privatization could open up major doors for Pennsylvania wine makers. As highlighted by PA Independent, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has literally put a cork in free-market enterprise for local wineries around the state—Pennsylvania entrepreneurs who are locked out of selling to consumers because the PLCB is the sole decision-maker behind what gets on the shelves of state-owned liquor stores.

Melissa Daniels writes that privatization “would mean a new chapter in the Pennsylvania wine industry,” and give winemakers across the state a new avenue for sales.

“It would give us a whole new avenue to market our wines,” [Linda] Jones McKee said.

Jones McKee first entered the wine industry in the early 80s, as a co-founder of Lancaster-based Wine East magazine. The magazine, which recently merged with Wines and Vines, covered all things wine east of the Rocky Mountains. She co-authored a book, “Pennsylvania Wines,” on the region’s winemaking history and the PLCB.

Jones McKee and co-owner Richard Carey started Tamanend Winery about 10 years ago, beginning at their home before purchasing a warehouse-sized facility and tasting room off of Route 741. They also run Vitis Wine Center, offering “wine repair” services, consulting and bottling.

Polls show that a strong majority of Pennsylvanians favor ending the government sale of wine and liquor and want more choice in their purchases, with 3 out of 5 Pennsylvania voters supporting the privatization of the 80-year-old state store system, and more than 41 percent strongly favoring the measure. 

And even worse, the PLCB is spending money to promote a California wine, rather than the wines made right here in our state, by Pennsylvanians and often with Pennsylvania grapes. It’s time to stop telling Pennsylvanians where to buy their wine and to bring Pennsylvania winemakers out of the wine cellar and onto store shelves.