Pennsylvania Wine Law: What You Need to Know

Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania House surprised many this week when they pushed through a bill to allow sales of wine at groceries and to make other changes to how alcohol is sold. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed it into law a day later. Some of its major components:


Q: Where will consumers be able to buy takeout bottles of wine?

A: The law lets about 11,000 holders of restaurant and hotel liquor licenses apply for a new wine-to-go permit that would allow them to sell four bottles per customer.


Q: When does it take effect?

A: The law goes live in early August, and there are predictions that consumers could start to see bottles for sale in groceries sometime this fall.


Q: Will beer sales change?

A: A number of convenience stores with gas stations have been licensed to sell beer following a 2014 court decision, and the new law amends the Liquor Code to take that into account.


Q: How does it alter alcohol sales in casinos?

A: Casinos will be allowed apply for a license that would let them sell booze around-the-clock, instead of just 19 hours a day.


Q: Can customers get wine shipped directly from a winery now?

A: Producers will be allowed to apply for a license to make direct shipments. They'll be able to ship up to 36 cases per year to each customer.


Q: What about hard liquor?

A: The law does not change how spirits are sold, nor does it direct or anticipate closing any of Pennsylvania's roughly 600 state-owned liquor stores.


Q: What changes will this produce at liquor stores?

A: They'll have much more flexibility to set prices. Lottery sales are now permitted, and the stores can establish customer loyalty programs and use coupons.


Q: Will liquor stores change their hours?

A: They were given more power to determine their operating hours. Blanket prohibitions against opening on certain holidays have been removed from the law, as was a provision directing that only 25 percent of stores can open on Sundays.


Q: How much revenue will this generate?

A: That's unclear, although some predict as much as $150 million in the first year.


Q: What about total privatization of the alcohol sales system?

A: The law establishes a Wine and Spirits Wholesale and Retail Privatization Commission and gives it six months to recommend further changes.


Q: Are there other changes?

A: The law has many other provisions, among them a ban on powdered alcohol.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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