Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pennsylvania Wine Monopoly

Former US Ambassador Dan Simpson wrote a story in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (2 March 2011) that caught my eye. The sub-headline was “They enjoy feisty politics and wines you can't get in Pa.”. That alone caused me to ask a question. Upon reading the story I had a few comments to add, but for another time. My first question to Mr. Simpson is to give an example of what wine(s) one cannot get in Pennsylvania that he apparently enjoys in France. It has always been my understanding that to avoid a monopoly the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must sell any and all wines sold in this country on the open market. There may be some caveats but we should be able to get them. Do any of my readers know of brands that are prohibited in Pa, but not in the other 57 states? Are the wines he drinks in Paris only available in Europe? There may be a reason that he cannot get his here. Mr. Simpson writes for a newspaper long known to support privatizing the state store system. Should that ever happen would any and all wines sold on the open market be sold in EVERY wine store in the state?

As for beer, there is no upper limit on how much alcohol can be in a beer. All beer can be sold in Pa. but with one BIG difference. The state does not care if you can get it. The importers and distributor decide what you will drink. They can respond to market demands but sometimes need electro-shock to get moving. Go to Fat Head’s, Smokin Joe’s, or any Sharp Edge and I can point out about 75% of the stock that I was told cannot be sold in Pa. because “we would have to buy a pallet”. Sometimes I wish I could buy beer like I can buy wine.

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