The new year means a number of new laws have gone into effect in Massachusetts. They include a dollar increase to the minimum wage, which is now $9 an hour in the state. The amount an individual can donate to a political campaign has doubled to a thousand dollars a year. And, as WGBH Radio’s Craig LeMoult reports, out-of-state wineries can now ship wine directly to homes in Massachusetts.
Say you visited a vineyard in California a while back and you really liked the wine, but never see it in the stores here. You check out their website and see they take orders and can ship directly to you. If you live in New Hampshire, no problem. Connecticut? Order away. But in Massachusetts, until now, you’ve been out of luck. A state law has said you can’t do it.
Of course, the wine industry’s been trying for years to change that. They even enlisted an advocate with a winning record in Massachusetts. Former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe now runs a winery in Washington called Doubleback. In 2013, he told WGBH he wanted to sell his wine here.
 “There are 39 other states in the union that currently allow this and it’s been very beneficial to both obviously the small businesses, the wineries. It’s been beneficial to the consumers who have direct access to wines from the winery. It’s been beneficial to the state, there’s additional tax revenue and licensing revenue to the state,” he said.
The ban on direct wine sales has been ruled unconstitutional twice, but like a bad wine hangover, it’s taken a while to go away. Now, though, with a new law going into effect, that metaphorical hangover may be lifting. And some real ones may be on the way.  
“It’s a huge deal, because Massachusetts is a very productive wine market.”
Carol Martel is with Wine Institute, a trade organization for California wineries.
“There are a lot of very astute wine connoisseurs and other wine consumers in Massachusetts. I think it’s the seventh largest wine consumption state in the country,” Martel said.
There was some concern from wine stores in the state that direct shipping might cut into their business. But George Bardis, the wine director at Martignetti’s Liquors in Brighton, says he doesn’t think that’s a problem.
“I believe that the wines people are going to order online are the wines that are harder to find. We may have run out of ours, we may have run out of our supply and the only way that they can get it is to order it online. I think it’s just going to help out the wine business in general.”
In the wording of the new legislation, lawmakers seem to have accidentally taken away the ability of wineries to ship directly to stores like Martignetti’s without going through a distributor. They’re currently considering an amendment to fix that.
Even though the new law went into effect New Years Day, wine lovers shouldn’t get too excited – yet. There’s still some hoops to jump through.
First of all, any business that wants to sell its wine in Massachusetts has to register with the state first, including a $300 initial licensing fee. Chandra Allard, of the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, says those requests are coming in.
“We’ve received 104 license requests, 34 of those have been approved. About 70 are incomplete and still pending. And we anticipate that we could receive more coming up in the days and weeks ahead.”
But there’s nobody who’s ready yet to bring all that wine to your door. FedEx says it’s working on paying for the necessary state licensing to carry wine in its Massachusetts trucks. They say you’ll have to wait until next month to put in your order.