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Increasing Access to Wine Sales

February 27, 2010

Earlier this month, the Garces Trading Company opened shop at 11th and Locust.  The establishment, of course, continues the spread of the “Iron Chef” Jose Garces food empire, as his sixth location in town.  It’s set up like a market, selling coffee, meats, olive oils and other products, and also includes an eat-in restaurant, featuring foods similar to some of his other restaurants as well as deep dish pizzas and pasta.

Perhaps its most interesting feature, however, is the Trading Company’s sale of wines.  It’s the first such wine boutique in the state arranged by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.  As noted by the Inquirer earlier this week, the state has long had rather arcane laws relating to alcohol.  The only permitted beer sellers are essentially beer distributors (cases), bars and delis (limited to only two six packs).

Similarly, the sale of wine is significantly limited.  The Pennsylvania’s Liquor Control Board has had a monopoly of the wine and liquor business, including inventory, distribution, pricing and hours of business.  Only actual wineries have been able to sell wine in a non-state store setting.  As a result, Pennsylvania, which is one of the nation’s largest purchasers of wine and spirits, makes a significant amount through wine sales.

So, this development in allowing wine sales in a private shop is a positive development.  Heck, I think the Trading Company even sells wine on Sundays.  The state may soon relax its laws and provide more parties with access to beer and wine sales.  And increased access means more competition and likely more competitive prices.  We shall see.

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