By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A State House committee has approved some changes in the way beer and wine are sold in Pennsylvania, while rejecting the privatization of all alcohol sales.

Besides allowing local distributors to sell six-packs of beer and taverns to sell cases, the biggest change could affect wine sales.

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The Liquor Control Committee reported out a bill that will privatize wine sales without selling off the 620 state liquor stores.

“It’s been an awful long time since a bill of this magnitude has gotten out of the Liquor Committee in the state of Pennsylvania,” Rep. Mark Mustio, a member of the committee, said.

Mustio said the compromise doesn’t go as far as he’d like, but will benefit consumers by allowing wine to be sold by beer distributors.

Under the proposed state law, beer distributors — some 1,200 in Pennsylvania — will be able now to buy a wine license for $50,000, allowing them to compete with the State Store system in selling you a bottle of wine.

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Reno Virgili and his daughter Mary Lou have been in the beer business for years.

“We have many people who come into the store and ask, where can I get a bottle of wine. And this goes on quite often,” Virgili said.

Not every beer distributor is likely to sell wine.

“I know I’m an old wine maker myself. Beer is a staple that has been around for years and years and years,” Virgili said. “Wine just now is becoming very, very popular. Different brands of wine, different types of wine. People have lots of choices today, so it is a different type of operation.”

Distributors could sell their licenses on the open market to supermarkets that want to sell beer and wine, although those operations would have to be housed in separate buildings.

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Distributors like Mary Lou Virgili see wine as a growth business because of reports of “wine being more beneficial health-wise.”