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The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association (NCRMA) is the go-to source when our members are facing any issue regarding alcohol sales.



On January 1, 2023, two North Carolina wine wholesalers – Johnson Brothers Mutual Distributing and Empire Distributing – implemented split case fees on wine of $0.36 and $0.72 per bottle. A split case fee on wine is an illegal quantity discount by North Carolina Administrative Code and runs contrary to North Carolina statute which says that splitting a case of wine is “not a thing of value”.

NCRMA has been fighting split case fees since 2005 and has been fighting this newest round of split case fees since August 2022.

  • NCRMA filed numerous letters of opposition to these illegal split case fees arguing the fees were both illegal and would harm consumers, wineries, retailers, restaurants, and bars with the only winners being wine wholesalers.
  • In late December, NCRMA filed a formal petition requesting an official declaratory ruling from the NC ABC Commission that is pending action. On January 20, 2023, the NC ABC Commission denied NCRMA’s petition for a declaratory ruling allowing the split case to stay in place saying the issue should be addressed by the General Assembly.
  • Click on the links below to read NCRMA’s letters, the petition to the ABC Commission and links to current North Carolina Statue and Administrative Code for more information and background on the split case fee issue.

NCRMA has a long track record of fighting for ABC permittees on the issues that matter to your bottom-line. NCRMA found that many ABC permittees are unaware of the split case fee issue, and we want to keep you informed.

We need your help and your voice to fight back against these illegal split case fees at the North Carolina Legislature. Please help NCRMA help you by engaging with us. Simply fill out the information to the right or send us an email at

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The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association knows alcohol issues are important and complex. Please enter your information below and we will keep you updated on alcohol-related legislation and regulations.

Many retailers are trying to navigate the uncharted territory we are in with the coronavirus and have shifted to curbside pickup or delivery of alcohol. Please note that the ABC Commission has specific rules that must be adhered to even during these uncertain times. In addition, there have been new rules proposed that have not yet been formally established but, in abundance of caution we have tried to lay all of the rules out as simply as we could.

  • Do I need a delivery service permit?
    • No: If you are a current ABC Permittee with an on or off-premise permit for malt beverages, unfortified wine or fortified wine or a wine shop – you do not have to obtain a delivery service permit to have your own employees deliver beer and wine or to have a third-party such as Instacart or Shipt deliver wine or malt beverages on your behalf.
      • As an ABC permittee you are responsible for ensuring that the third-party vendor delivering the wine and malt beverage on your behalf has properly obtained the delivery service permit. Otherwise you will have committed a violation of North Carolina ABC law. Please check the NC ABC Commission website at this link to ensure the 3rd party delivery company you are utilizing has the appropriate permit –
    • Yes: If you are not a current ABC Permittee with an on or off-premise permit for malt beverages, unfortified wine or fortified wine or a wine shop then you must obtain a delivery service permit in order to deliver wine and malt beverages in North Carolina on behalf of ABC permittees.
  • Training: Your employees that are delivering alcohol must have completed either the free on-line training program found here ( or have completed a company training program that has been approved by the North Carolina ABC Commission (see this link for required content of a company training program
    • *A physical or electronic copy of the certificate, including a picture of the certificate, must be in the individual’s possession whenever making deliveries.
  • Package Labeling Requirement: If alcohol is being delivered by either an ABC permittee or a delivery service permittee, and the manufacturer’s original package is obscured by a bag or package (as example, a six pack of beer is placed in a bag) the bag or package must have a sticker or label affixed to it in 26-point type or larger stating “CONTAINS ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES; AGE VERIFICATION REQUIRED.”
  • Order and Payment: You should take steps to ensure that the person making the alcohol order is at least 21 years of age and that you as the ABC permittee are accepting payment for the sale of the wine and malt beverages. Payment may be made in-person, online or over the phone but it CANNOT be made at the delivery site. Except for tips, delivery people may not handle cash or process credit cards.
  • Age Verification: You must ensure the person receiving the delivery is at least 21 years of age and takes immediate and actual possession of the alcohol at the time of delivery. The individual delivering alcoholic beverages should verify the age of the recipient of the alcohol. In other words, alcohol should not be left on the doorstep but must instead be physically handed to a person who is at least 21 years of age. We recommend checking the ID of ANYONE receiving an alcohol delivery.
  • Delivery Radius/Parameters: You may not deliver alcohol further than 50 miles from your store. The alcohol must pulled from existing inventory and may not be delivered to another ABC permittee.
  • Legal Sales Areas: Alcohol can only be delivered to areas of North Carolina where the sale of malt beverages and/or unfortified wine and fortified wine is legal – in other words, malt beverages and wine cannot be delivered to a “dry” area.
  • Legal Sales Hours: Alcohol can only be delivered during the time for lawful sales which is generally from 7:00 am until 2:00 am Monday through Saturday and from noon until 2:00 am on Sunday. However, note that a number of jurisdictions allow for the sale of malt beverages and wine beginning at 10:00 am on Sunday (View here:
  • Violations: Note also that violations of the alcohol delivery law will be treated like other ABC violations. However, you should also be very careful with regards to any deliveries near or around college campuses. If a violation of the alcohol delivery law occurs while delivering to a residence hall on an institution of higher education, you could be subject to a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) for the first violation; up to one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) for a second violation within three years of the first violation; and up to two thousand dollars ($2,000) for a third or subsequent violation within three years of the first violation.

Please note that while this document is intended to help you comply with North Carolina law, it is in no way intended to serve as legal advice. Please consult a licensed attorney to address more specific questions that may arise concerning this issue.

Today, Representatives Chuck McGrady, Jason Saine, Jon Hardister and Pricey Harrison introduced HB 971 – Modern Licensure Model for Alcohol Control.

NCRMA, along with the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, have partnered in support of House Bill 971, as a continued effort to modernize the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) system and have issued a joint press release.

The legislation aims to improve the longstanding government management of the sale, storage, and distribution of spiritous liquor in order to implement a more efficient and effective system. NCRMA President and General Counsel Andy Ellen along with NCRLA President and CEO Lynn Minges are working to underscore the bill’s significance and encourage North Carolina residents to take action to help #FreeTheSpirits.

Go now to: to find out more. There, you will also have the opportunity to contact your legislator via email and Twitter to express your support for the bill.

Retailers – if you would like to receive updates on this important legislation, please fill out the information below and we will add you to the email list.

Earlier this year, the largest wine wholesaler in North Carolina announced that on June 1, 2019 it would begin implementing a $2.16 split case fee any time a retailer or restaurant orders less than a full case of wine.

This would have had significant negative effects, for all ABC permittees and consumers.

The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association was opposed to this proposed split case fee as we felt it ran afoul of North Carolina law and was punitive to North Carolina retailers that sell wine. NCRMA spent a tremendous amount of time discussing the issue with members of the North Carolina General Assembly and the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. We are happy to report that the wine wholesaler has now decided to not pursue the split case.

Here are Some of Our Previous Successes:


  • NCRMA wrote the Growler Bill and worked the bill through the Legislature, the ABC Commission, and helped develop the sanitation rules with the Division of Public Health
  • NCRMA worked for the passage of the wine tasting bill
  • NCRMA worked for the passage of the malt beverage tasting bill
  • NCRMA ensured that beer and wine wholesalers had to continue to service all retailers to whom they distributed alcohol
  • NCRMA worked with the ABC Commission to allow retailers to use coupons and wine clubs over the strong objections of the religious right
  • NCRMA worked to include the retail sale of wine/beer and at establishments other than restaurants (taprooms/tasting rooms) in the Brunch Bill (Senate Bill 155) allowing sales to begin at 10:00 am on Sundays rather than noon. *Each municipality and county must pass a local government referendum approving the earlier sale.
  • NCRMA worked to negate the necessity of a separate wine shop permit in some locations. *This change in the law lets a retailer replace their Wine Shop Permit with an On-Premises Unfortified Wine Permit, provided the local government referendum approving the on-premise sale of wine in the jurisdiction does not require the retailer also qualify as a restaurant.
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