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New York Governor reopens supermarket wine sales debate

The political battle over allowing wine sales in New York State’s 19,000 supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores has resumed.

David A. Paterson, Governor of New York State, has asked the Legislature to permit sales of wine in supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores, to alleviate a $7.4 billion budget deficit in 2010-11.

Under current regulations, wine can only currently be sold in licensed liquor stores.

Opponents of the proposal say that the move would heavily impact on the state’s 2,745 liquor shops, predicting that 1,000 liquor shops would close.

By way of concession, the governor is proposing to allow liquor stores to own multiple stores instead of only one, let them sell wine to restaurants and bars, and to band them together to increase volume-purchasing power and seek lower prices from suppliers.

Michael McKeon, spokesman for Last Store on Main Street, a coalition opposing the legislation, said, ‘it is a completely phony compromise that provides cover for the big-box stores to crush our business.’

A recent Cornell University study said that while a change in the state’s policy could increase overall wine sales, such sales in the state’s liquor shops could drop 17% to 32%.

It said wine in supermarkets might foster development of the state’s wine industry, which ‘experienced a significant amount of growth in acreage and value between 1990 and 2009.’

Currently 35 of the 50 states, including California and Washington State, allow supermarket wine sales.

Similar bills to permit wine sales outside of liquor stores were defeated in 2009 and 1984.

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Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York

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