Wine campaign hopes to reverse current Delaware law
'Free the grapes' is a saying many of you probably have never heard before, but it's one that's gaining some traction in Delaware after asking one simple question, "Can you ship the wine to my house?"
"A lot of people ask that but we can't ship to Delaware so we have to tell them, "I'm sorry, we would love to sell you the wine, but we can't and it's not because of us or Maryland, it's because of the laws in Delaware," explains Jennifer Layton, the General Manager for Layton's Chance Winery in Hebron.
It's hard to believe, but if you love local wine from places like Layton's Chance Winery but you live in Delaware, the only way you can actually get their wine is by going to the winery in person or buying it at a local wine store.
"A lot of people are caught off guard with that. When they go to an actual niche area and they say go ahead and ship me a case of red blush and they say well where do you live and then they find out you can't do that," explains Rep. Daniel Short.
That's because according to Delaware law, winery to consumer shipments are prohibited. So local wineries, even ones within the First State, can't ship their wine to anyone in Delaware directly from the source.
It's something Delaware lawmakers have been trying to reverse for years, but its never passed.
"I think the local distributors are fearful of the fact that it doesn't go through them, it might hurt their business and some of the retail shops are in the same mode but I think that's a false sense of security on their part," explains Short.
But wineries like Layton's Chance are getting the word out in hopes that the public can finally sway lawmakers enough to pass this year's House Bill 165, making it legal for wineries to ship in Delaware.
Petitions for signatures are already in place, even a Free The Grapes website.
"It's not going to change until consumers make it change because they're the ones that have to ask for it. They're the ones who are going to change the law because if they make enough noise then that's who the legislators are going to listen to, their constituents," says Layton.
Short tells us they are pushing for a hearing in the House and asking for the public to send an email or call their legislators if they want this law reversed.