PLCB Wine Kiosk Follow-up: (Not) Drinking Local reportedly recently on the prototype wine kiosks in Pennsylvania that have been creating so much buzz – and ire – in the media lately.

What has pointed out is that the new-fangled Pennsylvania wine kiosks will contain no actual wines from Pennsylvania. Which is a blow to PA’s 100+ state wine producers, some of whom are making excellent wine (albeit in very small quantities) well worthy of more public attention.

This news comes just when I was starting to see an upside to these bizarre wine kiosks – namely, that it would mean a wine transaction without face-to-face contact with a PLCB employee, many of whom don’t know much about wine and some of whom have denied the very existence of Cabernet Franc.

Part of the issue for PA wine producers is that they’re too small to play in the state’s enormous monopoly wine distribution and sales system, which is prohibitively expensive for those smaller outfits – according to

“Pennsylvania wine producers 773,100 gallons in 2008, and slightly less than 14 percent was sold through state stores, according to the PLCB. Selling to the state system means going through a process to get listed as a supplier to the PLCB. Only about 15 of the state’s 123 wineries have that status. To be listed, a vineyard has to deliver its product to the PLCB’s warehouse so it can be sold at Wine & Spirits Shoppes around the state. But it takes a larger-scale operation than most small wineries to pull that off…”

Certainly economics plays heavily into the decision to exclude PA wines (for now, anyway) – there just aren’t enough local wines from PA being sold via the PLCB, and the lower volume means fewer discount opportunities vs. other purchases that the PLCB can make.

Still, one would think that inclusion among the limited number of choices available in the wine kiosks, if rolled out to 100 stores statewide as is the current plan by the PLCB, would be a boon to PA’s local wine market and a move that would endear the PLCB to PA’s own in-state producers and locapours everywhere.

And it seems that the locapour movement is growing: earlier this year, held the 2010 Drink Local Wine Conference in Virginia, and the state will host the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville (that news even made the Associated Press).

Seems that Local Wine in the U.S. is cursed to live in interesting times!


Joe Roberts is a Certified Specialist of Wine and author of the award-winning wine blog.

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