By Anne Geggis
September 30, 2021
“Brandes has also filed legislation (SB 324) that would rescind the mockingbird’s designation as Florida’s bird.”
Sen. Jeff Brandes says it’s time wine came in big bottles.
As he has for years before, the Republican Senator from St. Petersburg filed a bill (SB 384) Wednesday that would allow wine to be sold in containers larger than one gallon. The idea has consistently sailed through the House, only to die in the Senate.
But this year it’s going to be different, he vowed.
“It’s my last year, it’s my last shot,” term-limited Brandes joked. “I’m going to burn the place down over the wine bottle bill … and the state bird.”
Brandes has also filed legislation (SB 324) that would rescind the mockingbird’s designation as Florida’s bird.
Brandes’ bottle bill is a companion to the one Rep. Chip LaMarca filed. For Brandes, his mission to throw out limits on wine containers started with a visit to Bern’s Steak House in Tampa when he saw one of these jumbo-sized wine bottles. He was told it could not be for sale, per sale law.
“I thought, that’s a problem we can fix,” Brandes said.
It hasn’t been so simple, however. It turns out the wine distributors are lined up against the effort, he said.
“It’s one of those annoying things — it makes no sense that we would prohibit this essentially because wine distributors don’t want to upgrade their trucks,” he said.
Brandes noted that Florida residents can order for shipping a wine bottle called the Nebuchadnezzar, equivalent to 20 standard wine bottles, or even the Solomon, equivalent to 24 standard wine bottles.
But it just can’t be sold in Florida.
“You can own them and you can possess them, but we can’t sell it to you legally,” he said. “It makes no sense.”
The criminal penalty for selling oversized wine containers, currently a second-degree misdemeanor, comes with fines and even potential jail time.
Brandes said he’s bringing new determination to the repeal of wine bottle limits.
“I’ve got nothing to lose,” he joked.
Lighthouse Point Rep. Chip LaMarca said he’s honored that Brandes has joined him in the effort to bring freedom to Floridians who want to celebrate big, with large wine bottles.
“This is the year to free the grapes!” the Republican wrote in a text.