Tennessee: You may soon be able to buy wine in a grocery store
on 10/02/11 at 10:26 amIndustry
A long bottled-up effort to loosen restrictions on wine sales is getting a new push this year, raising the possibility that Tennesseans will be able to buy a bottle of chardonnay at their local supermarket by this summer.
State lawmakers, including some longtime opponents, say support is building for legislation that would let supermarkets, convenience stores and other food retailers sell wine, lifting a longstanding law that has limited such sales to liquor stores.
A new bill, backed by the grocery industry, has been introduced that would allow wine sales in food stores while also easing restrictions on liquor stores. The Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association also has released a study that claims the state would receive a tax boost if wine-in-grocery-store legislation were to pass.
The bill still faces substantial opposition from liquor store owners, who question the purported benefits and say they their businesses would be shoved aside by out-of-state retail chains. Earlier attempts to allow wine in grocery stores have been quashed before the issue could come to a vote on the House and Senate floor, but lawmakers say opposition appears to be easing.
“They’re getting close,” said Nashville Rep. Mike Turner, the ranking Democrat on the House State & Local Government Committee, which will hear the bill, and an opponent of the legislation. “Early on … I thought it wouldn’t pass. I’m not so sure now.”