House subcommittee unanimously approves bigger wine bottles

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Perennial legislation gets a House subcommittee boost. But will it be the toast of the Senate?

An effort to allow the sale of giant wine bottles in the state received an outpouring of approval as Rep. Chip LaMarca’s bill to smash wine bottle limits unanimously passed its first subcommittee hearing Thursday.

LaMarca’s bill (HB 6031) would repeal the state law that bans wine sales in containers larger than a gallon. It’s the fourth time legislation has been filed in the House to repeal wine container limits and the second time LaMarca has introduced the measure. Last year, it passed in the House only to run out of support in the Senate. But LaMarca is not giving up and the reasons for his perseverance are multitudinous, he said.

Right now, selling wine in a container larger than a gallon is a misdemeanor offense that could turn into a third-degree felony thereafter.

“It serves no good policy to criminalize the sale of wine based on the container size,” LaMarca told the Regulatory Reform Subcommittee.

He urged subcommittee members to strike a blow for freedom.

“There is no rational opposition to this bill, but we understand it’s probably a single winery looking to protect their place in our market and oppose the great Florida free market,” he said. “This may be the greatest free market and freedom bill you hear today.”

Rep. Bob Rommel, chairman of the subcommittee, was ready to go with that. “Any questions on the greatest free market bill?” he asked to chuckles from the assembled.

Republican Rep. Mike Beltran was a little confused, though.

“Is it something you’re going to drink out of?” he asked, pantomiming a lift of something more like a 12-ounce weight.

In some cases, that probably would not be advisable in one sitting, LaMarca explained.

“An individual container would be anything from a half bottle of wine … way up to these large format containers like 12 liters, which is basically like getting a case of wine in one bottle,” LaMarca said. “So it’s actually an environmentally friendly bill, too.”

Sen. Jeff Brandes has filed companion legislation (SB 385) to LaMarca’s bill, with Sen. Joe Gruters co-introducing. It’s currently slated to be heard in three Senate committees: Regulated Industries, Commerce & Tourism and Rules.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]

One comment

  • tom palmer

    December 2, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    Why are there regulations on the size of wine bottles in the first place?

Comments are closed.


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