A wine vending machine? Pennsylvania could see them soon

beervending Pennsylvania is hardly the first state where you would expect innovation in wine retail. The state’s Liquor Control Board owns all the retail outlets and the distribution in the state. Generally monopolies are known for limited selection and high prices, not innovation.

Yet that is exactly what might be in store for Pennsylvania wine enthusiasts as the state has proposed to allow 100 “wine kiosks” around the state. To the tape:

The kiosks, a type of temperature-controlled vending machine capable of holding 500 bottles of wine, would be placed in grocery stores and other places [malls], according to request on the LCB’s Web site. They would offer about a dozen different types of wine.

Before you think this is where all the minors are going to go before the prom, each kiosk will have “fingerprints and biometric readings” for age verification. Yikes! Retinal scan for retsina.

Making wine more accessible is a good thing. I hope for all wine loving Pennsylvanians that the selection is great! Get a little Bollinger before heading to Borders? Malbec and a movie? I wonder if they will have stemware. Or perhaps TetraPak wine so the bottle doesn’t break while being dispensed.

Would you like to see them in your state?

Related: “Poll: should the US drinking age be lowered?
(image)

pixel

18 Responses to “A wine vending machine? Pennsylvania could see them soon”


  1. WOW. This could be good and bad. It is good because just the idea that in a state like PA there is a market for such a machine is an indication that more Americans are drinking wine. The potential bad side is the very subject of Asimov’s latest post. What kind of wine will be available? Optimistically maybe some Miguel Torres Viognier? A selection of Smoking Loon perhaps? I think the company promoting this kiosk should hire a sommelier.:) “So what do you do?” “Me? Well, I am a wine director for wine vending machines in the Northern Corridor of the United States. Here’s my card.” What a crazy world.

    EvWg


  2. In a state, namely PA, that struggles to have a good selection in its stores, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for good juice in a vending machine.

    On top of that, I’m not about to offer up my prints and retinal scans to the government just for the convenience of buying some plonk at the mall.


  3. Best option for wine distribution – LCBO. Liquor control boards aren’t all bad; the LCBO (Ontario’s answer) has a great selection and low prices. Also allows government control of the market to promote local producers and enforce green policies.


  4. As a regular wine drinker and resident tax-payer of PA; I would find the vending machine idea a waste of resources and foolish in every way.

    Most of the state-run stores tend to already be within shopping centers closely located next to grocery stores or in a few stores themselves already (Store 4002)

    Really, if they are hurting to spend some money improving PA liquor stores or sales, what they should do is threefold:
    1. Train the employees better

    2. Properly store wine on-site in the stores (I’m tired of getting a bottle that’s been sitting out on a truck all day in 18 degree weather)

    3. Increase selection greatly (By making SLO and specialty orders easier to make)

    P.S., Prices of liquor and wine doesn’t tend to be as jacked up as people would like to believe (unless I’m lying to myself). Prices could be found on their website: http://www.lcb.state.pa.us/


  5. Pfft. Absurd. Biometrics for a buzz. Talk about a police state. I can only imagine what they would do with that data…

    Steven, your suggestions are excellent, but I have a better one:

    Dissolve the state-monopoly. I can’t believe the state controls the sale of alcoholic beverages like they do. It is damn near criminal to deprive private business development by prohibiting the selling of wine and liquor.

    As for the price of wine in PA: it’s okay. It would probably be cheaper if there was some competition. The price of liquor and cases of beer? Well let’s just say I pick it up in mass quantities OUTSIDE the state.


  6. […] | drvino Más noticias sobre: Curiosidades, Gastronomía Tags: consumo de vino, curiosidades del […]


  7. WOW..ITS ABOUT TIME THIS CONCEPT IS OUT. I DO APPRECIATE THAT I DONT HAVE TO GO TO A STATE STORE TO PICK UP A BOTTLE OF WINE THE LAST MINUTE.THAT THE WINE WILL BE IN A TEMP. CONTROLLED COOLER.THESE VENDING MACHINES ARE AT THE LOCATIONS LIKE THE RESTAURANTS ANY GIVEN TIME. AND FOR THOSE WHO DONT WANT TO GIVE YOUR FINGER PRINTS, THAT IS YOUR PEROGATIVE. ITS NO DIFFERENT FORM YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE..YOU WANT TO DRIVE YOU HAVE TO HAVE A LICENSE. YOU WANT WINE, YOU HAVE TO GIVECERAIN INFO. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE TO GIVE YOUR FINGER PRINTS FOR YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE? THATS NOT TOO FAR..DO I WORRY BAOUT BIG BROTHER?..NO. IM MORE WORRIED ABOUT THE IDENTITY THIEVES THAT ARE OUT THERE TO RUIN YOUR FINANCIAL LIFE. SO IT WOULD NOT BOTHER ME TO GIVE UP MY PRINTS TO ENJOY A GOOD BOTTLE OF WINE AND ENJOY DINNER WITH IT. YOU ALL HAVE A GREAT DAY NOW….


  8. I work for the PLCB and I can tell you that the information that would be gathered with regards to any biometrics scans would not be stored or housed in any of our state agency databases. The scan would just provide a confirmation that the proposed buyer is not over the state approved blood alcohol range.
    With regards to any credit card information the PLCB is already held to and is already in Level 2 compliance (Levels are based on the number of transactions per year) and all efforts will be made to ensure that all customer financial information will be encrypted and safe from potential skimming.
    There is a very good chance, however, that this particular proposal of wine vending machines will not get passed. Due it being a NO COST contract with the vendor, PLCB does not see a vendor that might be interested in paying for all the machines, the maintenance, the upkeep, the system hardware and connectivity costs for just the minor amount of money that they might be able to recieve from the wine companies that might offer them some extra cash for have the PLCB place a certain type of wine in the machines for purchase.
    Just don’t get your hopes up on this one. I don’t forsee it happening. There just isn’t a big enough profit margin to make it worth while for any prospective vendors.


  9. Don’t get my hopes up?

    You mean like getting my hopes up for direct shipping, reasonable prices, high quality, and fair competition for wine sales in the state of PA?

    Don’t worry about it… :-P

    The state of alcohol sales in PA is a disgrace.

    Since the time that the practices of the PLCB & state-run monopoly have been deemed unconstitutional at the federal and state levels, the PLCB has done nothing to change how they operate – and instead have made record profits (near $3 billion USD). That’s big money available to protect a useless three-tier system.

    What we’re told in PA is that the PLCB protects us from our kids obtaining alcohol over the Internet. But given that the data cited by the PLCB on this matter is seriously, seriously flawed statistically, it’s an absurd claim. And hardly worth the trade-off of the huge, negative impact that the PLCB has on state commerce as a whole. There is in fact more convincing evidence that PA is *losing out* on tax revenue because of the PLCB and the inter-state shipping laws!

    Instead of expensive, biometric-reader vending machines (if this story had come earlier in the month of April I’d have thought it was an April Fool’s joke), here’s an alternative:

    Work on a business model that doesn’t rely on limited choice, laughable storage quality, and protective monopolistic practices to make money. Let direct shipping into the state and see if the PLCB can compete on price, quality and service.

    In other words, go for Capitalism instead of Communism.


  10. As a resident of PA, I will certainly get on the “PA liquor laws suck” bandwagon. They are just awful.

    And how does a state continue to get away with this monopolistic BS?


  11. I’m a Philadelphia resident. There is a state store one block from my house with a very reasonable selection at reasonable prices. I know because I frequently visit liquor stores in Jersey and Delaware where alcohol is less regulated. While it would be nice to see the PA state stores have to compete, I have to say they maintain consistent standards across the state. I always know where to find my favorite brand of vodka whether I’m in my neighborhood store or one 200 miles away in the part of the state where all the god-fearing people live. Stores in other states are a crapshoot. Some are better and some are worse. I also think that if it were privatized, there’d be a “Manhattan effect” on liquor prices in Center City and other geographically isolated urban areas where lots of people don’t have cars (and can’t just drive to Delaware for the tax-free shopping). One more thing, we’re also only allowed to buy beer in privately owned bars, hoagie shops (but only 12 or fewer), and beer distributors (but only a case or more). Despite this fact, most beer distributors in Philly have a better selection than I’ve seen anywhere else in North America. And beer is very economical when you buy it by the case. A couple of weeks ago, I stopped at the state store after taking state-funded public transit home from work and their card readers were all down so people had to pay cash. I can’t remember the last time I was in a privately owned business (especially after work on a Friday) and the card readers weren’t working and the staff didn’t seem to care in the slightest.


  12. Hey Scott – good point on buying beer by the case.

    If you could get down to DE, and shopped at Total Wine, you’d encounter some very helpful staff and good prices. Or be able to visit Moore Bros., which offer exceptional wines with high quality and great value that you will never, ever, ever see in PA state stores. And they are stored properly as well (unlike in PA, where I’ve had to return more wines than I can count due to them being ruined from improper storage by the state store…).

    Great photos on your site, btw!

    Cheers.


  13. Not all the PLCB stores have the same selection. Not sure what your favorite vodka is, but you’re in a very large Eastern city, not western WV, VA, NC or Iowa, and vodka’s are heavily marketed especially in areas like CC.
    Still I agree the PLCB selection and price at the better stores(like East Chestnut Street) is better than most bloggers indicate, but storage is a big issue for retail sales.

    The influence of the PLCB on restaurant pricing is the biggest negative, when prices are four (4X) retail, it’s a joke. New York prices at Babbo and Eleven Madison Park are a bargain in comparison. If you read the comments on Chowhound etc about markups on wine in other jurisdictions, you want to cry.

    NJ with it’s absurd licensing system also leads to high restaurant prices.


  14. Liquor stores just recently began to open on Sundays in my area. Beer or wine cannot be bought in supermarkets or gas stations. This seems out of place.

    “fingerprints and biometric readings” did we commit a felony before getting our bottle of wine?


  15. I think the devil just got thwacked with a good old slushball. I mean, France is getting more uptight and America…more understanding???? This must truly be the end times.


  16. Even with the fingerprinting and biometric reading kids will find a way to hack these machines.


  17. And here is the ridiculous part, the prices in PA for wine and liquor are $2-$4 a bottle more than the bordering states. The reason for this, is a tax imposed by the state to pay for .. get this.. the rebuilding of Johnstown PA ravaged by a flood back in 1936!! They never repealed it. And after first imposing a 10% tax. It was raised periodically over the years and is now up to 18% per bottle PLUS 6 sales tax %. Now here is the laughable part. Johnstown doesn’t get any money from the tax anymore. The money now goes into the general fund and is used by the state legislature for any reason they like. This is why I buy my wine and liquor in Jersey, which by the way, is illegal to bring purchases from out-of-state back into PA. I say, SCREW ‘EM!!


  18. If this happens to be available I wonder what the minors will do. Vending machines can’t prohibit minors from buying. I think wines and liquor would be best if they are in stores.


winepoliticsamz

Wine Maps


Classes

My next NYU wine classes: NYU

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

See my op-eds in the NYT
"Drink Outside the Box"
"Red, White, and Green"

Highlights

Monthly Archives

Categories


Blog posts via email


@drvino








Wine industry jobs

quotes

One of the “fresh voices taking wine journalism in new and important directions.” -World of Fine Wine

“His reporting over the past six months has had seismic consequences, which is a hell of an accomplishment for a blog.” -Forbes.com

"News of such activities, reported last month on a wine blog called Dr. Vino, have captivated wine enthusiasts and triggered a fierce online debate…" The Wall Street Journal

"...well-written, well-researched, calm and, dare we use the word, sober." -Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher, WSJ

jbf07James Beard Foundation awards

Saveur, best drinks blog, finalist 2012.

Winner, Best Wine Blog

One of the "seven best wine blogs." Food & Wine,

One of the three best wine blogs, Fast Company

See more media...

ayow150buy

Wine books on Amazon: