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Pennsylvania’s Wine Vending Machines

When I first read about Pennsylvania’s wine vending machines, two thoughts initially crossed my mind: (1) Cornell University’s apple vending machine has some competition for most obscure vending machine, and (2) what are the probable legal repercussions of implementing such a machine?

What is the idea behind this device? Simple. Customer wants wine. Customer swipes his driver’s license, vending machine ensures customer is the same individual depicted on the license through a surveillance camera, customer blows into a breath sensor. If all three steps go smoothly, wine is distributed. The whole process is said to take less than 20 seconds.

These wine machines hold up to 700 bottles of temperature-controlled wine ranging from $7 to $23. Originally, these machines were added to grocery markets throughout Pennsylvania at the beginning portion of the summer. Officials state that, if machines are profitable, wine vending machines will be placed in more locations throughout the state. However, many Pennsylvania wineries expressed concern that these vending machines do not support local industry for none of the machines house Pennsylvania wines.

On top of the concerns of local wineries, there are many legal ramifications bound to develop from such machines. The first and foremost being fraud. Any system greatly reliant on technology is bound to encounter mishaps; counterfeit drives’ licenses and underage drinking could be a clear result, despite the level of surveillance implemented.

In addition, it is unclear as to the security measures the creators of these machines have taken. Issues with vandalism  and other criminal activities may procure. Finally, it has been referenced that such machines have been developed for customer usage of wine “at home,” but there is always the potential for more uncivilized behaviors to develop outside of the home environment.

What additional legal issues might the wine vending machines present?

(See Wine Vending Machine — Pennsylvania Bottles Debut and Pa. tries vino vending machines.)

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice.


Lindsey A. Zahn


Lindsey is the founder and author of On Reserve: A Wine Law Blog. She is an alcohol beverage and food attorney and is admitted to the New York State Bar.

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