Pennsylvanians embraced their new ability to easily order wine directly from out of state, receiving $24.3 million worth at their homes or other addresses in the year ended June 30, according to new data from the state Liquor Control Board.

To obtain a license to ship directly to Pennsylvania consumers, a company had to show that it had a producer's license in its home state. But that did not prevent entities that appear primarily to be online retailers from dominating the field.

"We do plan to reinforce to all [direct wine shippers] that they are only authorized to ship into Pennsylvania wines they produce," PLCB spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell said.

Pa. Wines Shipped by Zips

Pennsylvania last year simplified the process for ordering wine directly from out of state, allowing consumers to receive wine at home from licensed producers in California and elsewhere. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board released data this week for roughly nine months ended June 30 showing the value of wine shipped by zip code.

SOURCE: Pa. Liquor Control Board
JON SNYDER / Staff Artist

The top shipper was NakedWines.com, with $3.3 million in shipments, accounting for nearly 14 percent of shipments by value. NakedWines has two winegrower licenses from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, but the company’s website says its crowdfunding model supports “over 140 winemakers around the world to create incredible wines at incredible prices.”

“We have a winery in Sonoma County and lease other wineries across the U.S., and therefore we are are allowed to sell direct to customers,” NakedWines’ spokesman Ryan O’Connell said Friday in an email.  “By shipping directly to the customers who fund our wines, we cut a lot of costs you can’t taste (distribution, marketing, sales) and we pass those savings on to Pennsylvanians, who as a result get better quality wine, for a lower price.”

The second-biggest shipper was One Hope Wines, which says on its website that it expects to open a winery this year. It shipped $1.5 million worth of wine to Pennsylvanians.

Third was 1-800 WINESHOP.COM, which has a winegrower license but also a stack of licenses for import, wholesale, and other operations restricted to internet sales. It shipped $784,440 worth of wine into Pennsylvania.

The data cover about nine months of fiscal 2017, which means that on an annualized basis direct-to-consumer wine shipments would be worth $32 million, putting the state near the top 10 in the nation, Terri Cofer Beirne, Eastern counsel for the Wine Institute, a San Francisco trade group for California wineries, said Thursday.

“We’re thrilled with it. That’s a lot of wine,” Cofer Beirne said.

New rules for direct wine shipping were adopted in June 2016 and took effect in August 2016 as part of a wide-ranging package of changes to Pennsylvania’s alcoholic beverage control system. The old direct-shipping regimen was cumbersome, and never gained traction.

Pennsylvanians took advantage of the program to buy some of the most expensive wines on the market, spending an average of $1,307 on wine from Promontory, an average of $1,200 for wines from Next of Kyn, and an average of $1,089 for wine from Harlan Estate.

Top destinations for those wines were the Main Line and, even more notably, areas in and around Pittsburgh.

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue collected $564,168.84 in excise tax on direct wine shipments. At $2.50 a gallon, that translates to 94,898 12-bottle cases, or 1,137,774 750-milliliter bottles.