Grape expectations: Lawmakers 1 vote from allowing bigger wine bottles
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 1/5/23- Rep. Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, after the House Energy, Communications & Cybersecurity Subcommittee, Thursday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

‘It is not good public policy to criminalize the sale of wine based on the container size.’

After years of pressing the matter with pour results, Lighthouse Point Republican Rep. Chip LaMarca may soon pop Florida’s cork on wine container sizes.

Legislation to allow bigger bottles in the Sunshine State is closer than ever to a successful finish.

House lawmakers unanimously approved LaMarca’s bill (HB 583) to allow restaurants and retailers to sell wine in glass containers of 4.5, 9, 12 and 15 liters.

The vote came exactly a week after a substantively identical Senate bill (SB 1134) by Panama City Republican Sen. Jay Trumbull cleared its final committee stop with uniform support.

For the first time since LaMarca originally proposed the change in 2021, both the Senate and House versions of the legislation have reached the floors of their respective chambers. And neither measure received a “no” vote along the way.

“I ask you to once again stand up and free the grapes,” LaMarca told his colleagues ahead of the Thursday vote. “It is not good public policy to criminalize the sale of wine based on the container size.”

Florida statutes today prohibit commercial sales of wine in bottles larger than one gallon or reusable 5.16-gallon containers. A gallon is about 3.8 liters.

First-time violators of the current law, which detractors say is past its drink-by-date, face a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Repeat offenders can be charged with a third-degree felony carrying an up to five-year prison sentence.

Dania Beach Democratic Rep. Hillary Cassel commended LaMarca for his tenacity in the matter and said you could bet Shiraz she would join him in celebrating the bill’s passage.

“For several years, he has worked very hard to get the wine across the finish line and into the state of Florida,” she said. “I’m happy to support this bill today and drink some wine with you later.”

While the change is expected to raise spirits among oenophiles, it’s unlikely to have a noticeable economic impact on state or local governments, House policy analyst Jason Thompson wrote.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

One comment

  • Possum

    February 22, 2024 at 10:34 pm

    What about beer and flordies? Can we get a full 40 like the rest of the civilized world?

Comments are closed.


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