Kentucky grocery stores are launching a campaign to gain the right to sell wine. The Food With Wine Coalition is campaigning to convince state legislators to change the law to allow wine sales in grocery stores.
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Grocery stores wanting to sell wine launch campaign
James Mayse Messenger-Inquirer
Published: September 19, 2009
Kentucky grocery stores are launching a campaign to gain the right to sell wine. The Food With Wine Coalition is campaigning to convince state legislators to change the law to allow wine sales in grocery stores. In counties that permit alcohol sales, grocerystories can sell beer, but not wine.
Luke B. Schmidt, who is advocating on behalf of the Food With Wine Coalition, said 34 states allow wine to be sold in groceries. Permitting such sales in Kentucky would benefit state wine producers and increase tax revenue, Schmidt said.
“This issue from the beginning has been driven by consumers,” Schmidt said Friday. “Nationwide in grocery stores, wine is the second-fastest-growing category, next to bottled water.
“Kroger tells us wine is the No. 1 requested (item) in their stores that they don’t have,” Schmidt said.
The coalition has tried to get a bill introduced. During the 2008 legislative session, Rep. Larry Clark introduced one, but it was not taken up by legislators. An attempt was made again during the 2009 “short session,” but the session was dominated by budget issues, Schmidt said.
Liquor stores have opposed such legislation. Schmidt said that in the 34 states that allow grocery stores to sell wine, “liquor storeshaven’t gone out of business.”
In Indiana and Illinois, the most popular wines sold in grocery stores are produced in those states, Schmidt said. “There’s absolutely no question this will be good for the wine industry,” he said. “Almost every county has a vineyard,” but those winescan now be sold only at the wineries themselves or at liquor stores.
“There’s no question if you make wine more available, you’re going to sell more of it,” he said.
The coalition has estimated the state will see a $30.1 million increase in sales taxes the first year wine sales are allowed in grocerystores. Over five years, such sales would raise an estimated $84 million in new sales tax revenue, Schmidt said.
“The bill we have in mind is very simple, very straight-forward. All we want to do is create a new license category,” Schmidt said.
The organization has a petition on its Web site, www.foodwithwine.org. When people sign the petition, a letter will be automatically generated and sent to the appropriate state legislator, Schmidt said.
“We’re going to make a hard push between now and January,” he said.
Allowing wine sales would not legalize selling alcohol in “dry” counties. A public “wet/dry” vote would have to be held in the county before groceries could sell wine or beer.
“This issue will impact wet and moist counties only,” he said. ” … If a county wants to consider going wet, that’s their option.”
James Mayse, 691-7303,email@example.com