HARRISBURG - For the first time in more than 18 months, the state Liquor Control Board has approved an increase in prices on more than 300 wines and hard liquor brands.

At its monthly meeting Wednesday morning, LCB officials said they were allowing the price hikes, requested by vendors of the alcoholic beverages, in the face of increasing transportation and other costs associated with getting liquor on retail shelves. For the last year and a half, the board has rejected price increase requests, given the bad economy.

"We have done our best to hold down prices," said board member Patrick J. "P.J." Stapleton III, but called the increase " a necessary thing to do" in order to continue providing the best selection possible for consumers.

The increases are mostly in the $1 and $2 range, but go as low as 50 cents and as high as $5. The price changes go into effect starting in February.

Generally, vendors have the ability four times a year to ask the LCB to raise prices on their products. The price hikes now being requested could generate a roughly $3 million annual return for the state, state officials said.

Some products on the hike list include various Columbia Crest wines (the Two Vines Chardonnay and the Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, both of which would go from $16.99 to $17.99); and The Glenlivet scotch (the 12-year single malt would go from $39.99 to $44.99. The changes would add $1 to the current $21.99 price of a bottle of Kahlua Coffee liqueur; $5 to Dom Pérignon champagne, now sold for $139.99; and $1 to Skinnygirl Margarita, now sold for $13.99.

The threat of a price increase comes against the backdrop of an attempt by a number of high-profile Republicans to privatize the LCB.

The move to auction off the agency's wine and liquor stores has been championed by Gov. Corbett and House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny), and has helped push the door open to modernizing liquor laws that date back to the end of Prohibition.

Just recently, the LCB quietly rolled out a pilot program allowing customers to select from a limited list of products and, for a fee, have them shipped directly to their homes. Before, customers could order only from the LCB's online catalog and have the liquor shipped to the nearest state liquor store for pickup.

Over the last few years, the agency has also made a concerted effort to spiff up stores, increase selection, and open higher-end retail locations.

Contact staff writer Angela Couloumbis at 717-787-5934, acouloumbis@phillynews.com or @AngelasInk on Twitter.