MIDDLEBURG, Pennsylvania (WNEP)-
The chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has launched an internal investigation to find out why our state is spending money to promote a certain kind of wine made in California.
This, while many wineries in Pennsylvania get no help from the L.C.B. at all.
Go into any L.C.B. Store and chances are you will find the brand “Table Leaf” displayed prominently.
Try to find a wine from a local winery, and the effort might feel like a scavenger hunt.
Pennsylvania is one of just two states that control the wholesale and retail levels.
And in a controversial move, it is the only state that contracted to sell an official house wine.
Shade Mountain Vineyards in Snyder County is one of 140 wineries in Pennsylvania.
The Zimmerman family of Mechanicsburg entered this competitive business 23 years ago.
But Jenny Zimmerman and her family never knew that for the last two years, Shade Mountain has been competing with a California wine made exclusively for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
“To us, it doesn`t seem fair at all,” said Jenny Zimmerman.
Drive five miles from the winery, to the Liquor Control Board store in Selinsgrove, and you won’t be able to find a single bottle of Shade Mountain.
You will however, find the brand, “Table Leaf” prominently displayed.
It`s produced in Napa, California.
But Newswatch 16 has obtained documents showing the state liquor control board spent at least $624,000 patenting, and marketing “Table Leaf.”
“It’s an unfair marketplace, when government tax dollars can be spent against privately run businesses,” said Jay Ostrich of the Libertarian think tank Commonwealth Foundation, a government watch dog group.
“It’s obviously not a struggle to get government labeled wine in a government-run store,” said Ostrich
“We felt that there was a little bit of an unfulfilled demand at the value price level, which is where ‘Table Leaf’ is,” counters Joe Conti, the CEO of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
Conti claims “Table Leaf” wines are making money for the state.
“It is great quality wine at a very attractive price for the consumers that allows us to return more to our shareholders, the people of Pennsylvania,” said Conti.
When it comes to price, we discovered Table Leaf is made by BronCo Winery of California.
It also makes Charles Shaw wine, which is better known as “Two Buck Chuck.”
Shaw is the house brand of Trader Joe’s stores.
So, how does Table Leaf compare to “Two Buck Chuck”?