CHARLESTON, W.Va -- If you enjoy wine, West Virginia is a great place to call home, according to one group. Just how good seems to be a matter of opinion.
The American Wine Consumer Coalition ranked the Mountain State 12th in its 2012 Wine Consumer State-By-State Report Card, awarding West Virginia a 'B' grade for wine consumer friendliness.
"You guys are doing well," said Tom Wark, executive director for the AMWCC. "People have outstanding access to wine in West Virginia."
West Virginians can have wine shipped to them from a winery or retailer either in-state or out-of-state. Wine is sold on Sundays, and is sold through private stores. Grocery stores and gas stations can sell wines. The coalition ranks all of those as positives.
"With one notable exception, West Virginia law is very friendly to wine consumers," the report said.
That exception, according to the report, is that West Virginia restaurants don't allow patrons to bring their own wine into the restaurants to enjoy with their meals.
Some local restaurateurs question whether that's true - even though a spokesman for the state alcohol commission says it is.
"As far as laws and stuff, everything that I've come up with is a complete gray area," said Noah Miller, owner of Noah's Eclectic Bistro in downtown Charleston.
Miller has allowed patrons to bring in their own bottle of wine since he opened. At first, he charged a $5 corkage fee, "just to be nice and trying to get people in the door." The corkage fee has since increased to $15.
"It's good to have the option," he said. "It hasn't hurt me at all."
Miller said it's all about the food and the wine that goes right with it. He wants his patrons to have access to the wine they want to enjoy with their meal. He added the restaurant keeps a rotating wine list of about 22 wines, but said there are wines that he can't get.
"The concept is for someone who has a wine cellar or someone who has an understanding or appreciation for wine or for someone who had a nice bottle of wine gifted to them," Miller said of allowing patrons to bring their own wine.
Ted Armbrecht III, who owns and operates The Wine Shop at the Capitol Market in Charleston, has been in the wine business for 16 years. He also thinks patrons should be allowed to bring their own wine to restaurants.
"As far as a corkage fee, yes the state should allow that," Armbrecht said. "It's absurd that they don't."