GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A bottle of wine delivered right to your doorstep may soon be a reality for Mississippi residents, thanks to a Pascagoula lawmaker.
State Rep. Charles Busby recently introduced a bill to the Mississippi House of Representatives to lift restrictions on wine deliveries. If passed, it could mean your favorite chardonnay or Merlot could be just a click away.
The bill would allow wine to be directly shipped to homes throughout the Magnolia State, which means you could order from online vendors of your choice.
However, it's a move that could have a big impact on local liquor stores if it is passed.
Mike Mensi, the owner of L&M Package Store in Gulfport, doesn't think it's such a good idea. He said he can already special order wines for customers. If passed, a bill like this could put his second-generation business in jeopardy.
"You're beginning to open the door for this thing to progress on into wine in grocery stores, Mensi said. "When you stop and have this thing hanging over your head every year you wonder about expanding, you wonder about improvements and making a bigger investment in your store, you're just hesitant to do it."
If the bill is approved, the box the wine is shipped in would have to bear a label saying it contains alcohol. A signature from a person 21 years or older would also be required for delivery.
But Busby's bill - HB 545 - would have restrictions. A direct wine shipper would have to be licensed in the state and pay an annual permit fee. Also, wine couldn't be shipped to any of the 37 dry counties in Mississippi. A direct wine shipper would have to report to the Department of Revenue annually the total amount of wine, by type, sold and shipped into the state or from within the state. Records would have to be kept for three years. A person who receives a direct shipment of wine from a direct wine shipper could use it for personal consumption only and may not resell it. Any person who makes, participates in, transports, imports or receives a sale or shipment of wine in violation of the statute would face up to $1,000 and or a jail sentence up to six months.
In Mississippi, wines and spirits are sold through the Alcohol Beverage Control Division of the Department of Revenue. Mississippi statute grants the Department of Revenue the sole right to import and sell wines containing greater than 5% alcohol by weight and distilled spirits containing greater than 4% alcohol by weight at wholesale within the state.