NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 22, 2013

Ex-quarterback Bledsoe lobbies for wine sales

(Continued)

“We’d like to be able to take care of our customers out here in Massachusetts,” said Bledsoe, who sells a couple of cases a year in the state through his distributor.

Efforts to legalize direct wine shipments in Massachusetts have been a perennial issue for the Legislature, and Gov. Deval Patrick – himself a bit of a connoisseur – has said he would sign a bill if it reached his desk.

“If Massachusetts falls and becomes the 40th state to allow direct shipping, I think the other states will follow,” Bledsoe said.

Because of shipping costs, Bledsoe said direct shipping is typically reserved for higher-end wines and only 1 percent of all wine sold in the U.S. is direct shipped to consumers. The only study, conducted by the state of Maryland, found a 3 percent increase in wine sales at package stores after lawmakers opened that state for direct shipping, Bledsoe said.

The quarterback said other states have successfully required someone of legal age to sign for wine packages shipped through the mail to address the underage drinking concern. “Ultimately, when you’re talking about fine wine that is not what underage drinkers are looking for,” Bledsoe said.

In addition to the Speliotis bill, which is also supported by Sen. Dan Wolf (D-Harwich), House Minority Leader Brad Jones and others have sponsored similar legislation that Bledsoe says he supports as well.

“Honestly, there are some similarities with playing quarterback to lobbying on the Hill. You got to be very careful of what you say all the time. You got to make sure you’re presenting yourself the right way, and you got to try to be persuasive and get your point across so there are some similarities. Not quite as physical though,” he said.

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