The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board voted Wednesday to appeal a decision this month by Commonwealth Court that the state-owned liquor and wine distribution monopoly violated a 2016 law by not allowing independent wine merchants to deliver their products directly to restaurants and specialty retailers.
Judge Kevin P. Brobson, in a May 1 ruling, ordered the three-member Liquor Control Board to implement a system that would allow restaurants and others to receive so-called special-order wines that are not sold in state-sponsored stores directly from wine importers and distributors, as required by the 2016 Pennsylvania law.
Brobson said the intent of lawmakers was “clear and unambiguous.”
Under the old system, which the PLCB has kept in effect, restaurateurs and retailers had to pick up their orders at state stores. Under both systems, the orders would be placed and paid for through the PLCB website. Picking up orders at state stores was impossible when they were shut down entirely earlier during the coronavirus pandemic. That meant anyone trying sell wine-to-go had no access to their preferred wines.
“Even though the PLCB has been in violation of the law for nearly three years now, they think they can continue to take advantage of consumers and private businesses for their sole benefit,” said Jason M. Malumed, an operating partner with MFW Wine Co. of New York and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“The fact that they have chosen to appeal a decision where a judge has already found the word of law to be unambiguous shows just how far the PLCB will go to bully anyone who dares to challenge them,” said Malumed, whose customers include Di Bruno Bros. and other restaurants and retailers in the Philadelphia region.
Elizabeth Brassell, spokesperson for the PLCB, declined to comment on the decision to appeal Brobson’s decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.