The decision to do away with the city’s brown bag law is five years old, but two new pieces of state legislation also affect how wine drinkers can enjoy their favorite bottles.
Direct shipping: Thanks to a law signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue on May 13, Georgians can soon order cases of wine directly from wineries throughout the country, not just ones in Georgia.
The law takes effect on July 1, and it represents a middle ground between proponents of direct wine shipping and the traditional wholesalers of wine concerned about their loss of revenue.
Liquor stores aren’t worried that it will cut much into their business, since most of the business is expected to be boutique wine shopping from small vineyards. For most wines they carry, the stores can buy in bulk to get a better price.
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“Our markup’s on the table,” said Dinnie Jeter, with Cascade Package on River Road. “When we buy in quantity, 10-20 cases of wine, they’re not going to beat our prices.”
The new law also requires that an adult who’s 21 or older sign for the wine, and there’s a 12-case-per-year limit for residents.
The law brings Georgia statutes in line with a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that held that by preventing out-of-state wine shipments while not banning in-state ones was a violation of the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution.
“The biggest winner will be our state’s stalwart winemakers,” wine columnist Gil Kulers wrote last week in the Atlanta Journal - Constitution. Indeed, Georgia winemakers now can sell their wines throughout the country.
Merlot to go: A day after the direct shipping law, the state passed a law allowing restaurant diners to carry home an opened but unfinished bottle of wine.
But the state doesn’t make it easy.
The bottle must be “resealed ” by restaurant employees, a dated receipt must be attached to the bottle, the bottle placed inside a bag or another tamper-proof container, and, finally, the driver must place the bottle inside a “locked glove compartment, a locked trunk, or the area behind the last upright seat of a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk” during the drive home.