Looking for a specific wine? If it is located anywhere in the U.S.A., we can find it for you! Just type in the winery name and hit “Search”.
Use the PLCB Wine Finder if you live in Pennsylvania, otherwise use the National Wine Finder. Good Hunting!
PLCB Wine Finder
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The PLCB Wine Story
Looking for a small independent wine shop in Philadelphia? You’ll have to drive all the way to New Jersey to find one. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) controls all wine sales throughout the state. Founded in 1934 with the repeal of Prohibition, the PLCB is the sole retailer of wine and spirits in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Beer is not apart of the legislation, and can be purchased in privately run “beer distribution” outlets and select restaurants.
Many wine enthusiasts point to the high cost of wine and lack of knowledgeable customer service in PLCB stores. Several movements to allow competition in wine sales have floundered in recent years. Academics and critics have pointed out that the state legislature is unlikely to pass laws allow for free trade, since the PLCB funnels millions upon millions of dollars into state, county, and city coffers.
The advent of “Chairman Selections” “Sommelier Selections” and “Premium Value” sales have offset many of the complaints regarding wine pricing in the Wine & Spirits Shoppes. With pricing that is often well below retail, and sometimes actually lower than wholesale prices, the programs have been a resounding success.
How The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Works and What Are Its Duties To The State’s Citizens
Independent government agency Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is responsible for the handling and management of the state’s beverage alcohol industry. This responsibility extends to the licensing of, sale, transportation, importation, manufacturing and sale of malt or brewed beverages, spirits and wine. The agency is also in charge in the operation system of liquid retailing and for distributing information about alcohol’s negative effects.
The Creation Of Pennsylvania’s Liquor Control Board
In late 1933, when the 21st Amendment was ratified, the 18th Amendment repealed and prohibition ended, Pennsylvania representatives created the agency. Four days before alcohol was permitted to be sold in state, Pennsylvania officially organized the Liquor Control Board.
When it was created, former Gov. Gifford Pinchot said the Board’s purpose was to dampen the buying of alcohol beverages – to make it so expensive and troublesome that people would not purchase the products.
The Board, which has its headquarters in Harrisburg’s Northwest Office Building, consists of three members the governor appoints, for a term of four years that ends the third Tuesday in May. To be confirmed, there must be a two-thirds confirmation vote from the state Senate.
How The Control Board Approves Or Denies Licenses
A quota system is in place to handle the licenses of both on-premise retail and off-premise wholesale alcohol distribution. Under the quote system, one license for retail is approved for every 3,000 citizens and one license for wholesale is permitted for every 30,000 citizen within a particular county.
In the state of Pennsylvania, there are over 20,000 businesses the PLCB has given licenses to. Any food or restaurant operations that want to sell or serve alcoholic drinks must buy a liquor license from the PLCB. The PLCB operates nearly 600 PS Wine and Spirits stores (or Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores) around the state. Spirits or wines not on the approved registered brands list may not be sold or purchase in the state.
The Pennsylvania State Police’s Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement is the entity responsible for the enforcement of the liquor laws. The organization is founded entirely by the PLCB’s operational revenues.
PLCB Provides Educational Material and Grants To Various Groups and Organizations
The PLCB’s bureau will offer educational material to beverage alcohol servers, legal consumers and youth. On top of that, $1 million in grants is awarded annually by the Bureau of Alcohol Education to Reduce Underage and Dangerous Drinking to the following entities:
- High schools
- Universities and colleges
- Law enforcement departments
- Community organizations
A yearly Alcohol Education seminar is held for prevention professionals, in which representatives from the above entities are sent to attend. For grades K through 12, the annual Alcohol Awareness Poster contest is also held.
Why Abolishment Of The PLCB Is A Good Thing and Why It Has Not Happened Yet
For more than 40 years now, beginning with Gov. Milton Shapp’s administration, there have been efforts to abolish the Board and make liquor sales private. Board critics say the state would produce a tremendous amount of income with the sale of state liquor stores to private entities and still bring in millions from the yearly sales taxes on liquor tax revenue and alcohol sales.
It’s also been noted that customers could reap the benefits of abolishing the Board and have privately-owned liquor stores:
- Longer hours
- Lower prices
- Array of choices
Along with these benefits, the privatization of liquor sales means the state could recover the taxes on sales made in neighboring states like:
- New Jersey
While all these points have been made, there has been a stall in the efforts to privatize the market. Thornburgh said the key block in reform is tradition that involves fundamentalist anti-alcohol groups, state store employee unions and various organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Only a courageous leader can overcome the interests of these entities, which is something the state does not currently have.
People against the privatization efforts have said public alcoholic-selling stores means more money in the long run.