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The Medicine of Contraband Wine: Donate to Hospitals

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Arthur Goldman, a Pennsylvania attorney recently accused of selling wine in Pennsylvania without a license. See Pennsylvania Attorney’s Wine Collection Seized and May be Destroyed by Government. The story goes that Mr. Goldman privately procured high-end wines for friends and colleagues, selling the wine directly to multiple parties through his personal cellar as opposed to shipping the wine through Pennsylvania’s state-controlled liquor stores. (For the full original story from January, see U.S. Lawyer Arrested in Undercover Fine Wine Sting.) Mr. Goldman maintained a private wine cellar said to be valued around $250,000, which Pennsylvania considers to be “contraband” and deserving of seizure and destruction under the state’s law.

Multiple sources have since reported that Mr. Goldman’s collection of 2,447 bottles of what are said to be “rare, fine, and very expensive” wines and, while the usual remedy is to destroy contract band liquor, there appears to be an aberration in the state’s law as per the below:

Confiscated liquor for hospitals. Hospitals desirous of obtaining confiscated liquor offered by Federal authorities or granted to them by the courts of the Commonwealth shall make written application to the Board for permission to import the liquor if located outside of this Commonwealth. 40 Pa. Code § 9.47.

Attention Pennsylvania Hospitals: Speak Now or Lose Out on 2,447 Bottles of Free Wines.

This is yet another example of antiquated liquor laws in a modern society. Putting aside all eccentricities of this particular provision, providing Mr. Goldman’s collection to hospitals seems to be the only option excluding destruction. However, providing fine wine to hospitals seems a bit extreme and, admittedly, unseemly—especially when, as many followers of the above case argue, many of the wines in Mr. Goldman’s collection could be sold at auction. It is clear that a provision like the above is in need of repeal or complete revision and, while it seems fitting that § 9.47 was drafted in the immediate aftermath of Prohibition, the section was actually adopted in 1952 and amended several times thereafter. 40 Pa. Code § 9.47. Unfortunately for Mr. Goldman and fellow wine aficionados, it seems that the repercussions of this quirk in the law will be felt far long before the law can (or will) be amended. 

For more information on wine or alcohol law, direct shipping, or licensing, please contact Lindsey Zahn.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is for general information purposes only, is not intended to constitute 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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