FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Indiana has the strictest alcohol restrictions in the country, but a new law is loosening up some of the rules. After the bill to remove the ban on Sunday sales died in the statehouse, it seemed like it’d be another uneventful year for alcohol-related legislation. However, thanks to Senate Bill 113, consumers can now get wine shipped to their home without having to visit the winery first.
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“It does open up a whole new world,” Country Heritage Winery owner Jeremy Lutter said.
“I think it’s just going to bring us up to par with a lot of the other people we’re trying to catch up with- other states.”
Lutter said the old law could be a hassle at times.
“People that had even been here before in the past, if they’re interested in us shipping, they’d have to come up and revisit to sign this piece of paper,” Lutter said.
The old law required consumers to visit a winery first and sign paperwork. That way, the winery could confirm the buyer is at least 21 years old. Consumers aren’t totally off the hook, though. The new law still requires you to provide a copy of a government-issued ID. Exactly how consumers will send that proof of identity and age is yet to be determined. Since the law doesn’t take effect until July, lawmakers and the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission are still working out some details.
“Every winery will be the same throughout the state. Whatever laws apply to them will also apply to us,” Lutter said.
Local wineries think this is a step in the right direction for Indiana.
“The real benefit of it is people that have never been here that want to try it that don’t want to travel,” Two EE’s Winery owner Eric Harris said.
Harris said the law gives Indiana a chance to be more competitive in a growing industry.
“It’s really a revenue stream that we’ve been having a difficult time tapping into it’s because there had been so many restrictions,” Harris said.
“A lot of it is the buy local thing. People are just trying to experiment and buy locally and realizing that Indiana can and do make some great wines, whether that’s fruit wines or grape wines. There’s a lot of wines being created throughout the entire state that are outstanding quality. Indiana is holding their own if not being on the top end of it. It’s not like a beer that tastes the same every time. Every vinage is different. Every batch is different. It’s not made more like a beer or a soda where it tastes the same every time. It truly is crafted to the ear and the winemakers taste,” Lutter said.
Harris also said he’s not worried about minors trying to work the new system.
“Typically minors that are trying to get their hands on alcohol aren’t ordering wine online. They’ve got other interests, and wine typically isn’t it,” Harris said.
Since buyers have to be 21 or older to sign for the wine when it’s delivered, they said the risk of it getting into the wrong hands is low. More than 40 other states have similar laws on the books.
“It brings us up to par with a lot of the other states. It’s another step in the right direction to make us a state where we can compete as a wine industry, not just as a state winery,” Lutter said.