A coalition of grocers and producers has formed to change state statutes to allow sales of wine in Kentucky grocery stores. Luke B. Schmidt represents the Food with Wine Coalition.
Article originally posted by The Paducah Sun directed to: http://www.paducahsun.com/component/content/article/183-archive/42506
By Alan Reed
Saturday, October 03 2009
By Alan Reed firstname.lastname@example.org
Luke B. Schmidt represents the Food with Wine Coalition. “This meets the needs of consumers who have for the last several years asked why they cannot buy wine with their food for dinner,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said 34 other states, including six of seven bordering Kentucky allow for wine sales in groceries. He added that wine was the second fastest growth product in grocery stores behind bottled water.
“This is pro-consumer because it expands competition by allowing other businesses to sell wine other than liquor stores who have had a monopoly since prohibition” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said a grocery study indicates wine sales would increase by 50 percent in the first two years before leveling to industry standards. Convenience would factor into that pattern. He added the growth would create $84 million of revenue through tax collection.
“Last time I checked, the state was looking for every dollar it could find and this is an easy $84 million,” Schmidt said.
Citing a non-scientific poll conducted by his group, Schmidt said 90 percent of responders favored wine sales in grocery stores. He said primary opposition came from liquor store operators.
“It’s good for farms,” Schmidt said. “We have 50 wineries that would like to grow, and their only sales outlets now are their tasting rooms and liquor stores.”
Schmidt added that most McCracken County grocers should benefit from the measure. Dry counties would also benefit by receiving state funds collected through taxes and distributed to local programs.
At least one liquor store owner opposes the plan. Kenny Roof, co-owner of Roof Brothers Wine and Spirits, said a grocery store environment is less regulated than a liquor store.
“Obviously I’m not really in favor of more competition,” Roof said. “But the state (Alcohol Beverage Control Board) holds liquor stores highly accountable for sales. I don’t think they ever conduct undercover stings on grocery stores. Grocery stores also have a lot of underage help. Liquor stores have no underage help.
Burton Banks, owner of Banks Grocery Company that operates SuperValu Foods, said he does not sell any alcoholic beverages.
“We don’t even sell beer,” Banks said. “We started out that way 80 years ago and don’t want the hassle with the stuff with age limits and other problems. I don’t know why we could sell beer but not wine, but if I was in the wine business I would not want groceries to sell it. It’s easier not to handle it, and I don’t have much to say.”
June Dossey of Paducah’s Purple Toad Winery said she supports the measure. “I think it will be great for us in the long run, but right now, we don’t have enough product for grocery stores,” Dossey said. “When we bump our volume up, we may want to sell in grocery stores down the line.
“If someone doesn’t want it, they can always pass by the aisle. It doesn’t hurt to be in the store.”
To learn more, or to participate in an online petition conducted by the Food with Wine coalition, visit www.foodwithwine.org. Petitioners will have a letter sent to their state representative and senator expressing support for wine sales in groceries.
Alan Reed, a Paducah Sun staff writer, can be contacted at 270-575-8658