KY group joins push for wine in grocery stores

With New York State on the verge of allowing wine sales in grocery stores, the spotlight is being turned up on the 14 other states that do not allow such a thing.

One of them is Kentucky, and this report from the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer tells us a movement is growing to join the majority of states:

"Kentucky ... does not allow wine sales in grocery stores, but a coalition is looking to change that soon. The Kentucky Food with Wine Coalition announced December 16 that more than 100 Kentucky supermarkets will hold a petition drive to gauge support for allowing them to sell wine. The drive will help the coalition's effort to allow wine to be sold in groceries, spokesman Luke Schmidt said.

" 'Ultimately what we want to be able to do is to demonstrate that consumers across the state want to see this law change'," Schmidt told the Messenger-Inquirer.

"But traditional liquor stores don't want Kroger, Houchens and other grocery stores jumping on their wagon. Changing the law would give grocery stores an unfair advantage, said Karen Lentz, a lobbyist for the Kentucky Liquor Retailer Coalition.

" 'It's the fact that they can already do this, as long as they comply with the current rules that are set out for anybody who sells wine', Lentz said. 'This is a heavily regulated product that should remain heavily regulated'."

"Rep. Larry Clark, a Louisville Democrat, filed a bill this year to allow for the expansion of wine sales to grocery stores. The bill made its way to the House Licensing and Occupations Committee but didn't receive a hearing.

"As Kentucky farmers make the switch from traditional crops, particularly tobacco, to grape and wine production, allowing wine sales in groceries will be a benefit to Kentucky's agriculture industry, the coalition argues.

" 'It's early, but my understanding is that it's been very positively received by shoppers,' Schmidt said."

" ... At least 40 grocery stores in Kentucky already sell liquor, but they have to abide by the same rules as liquor stores, like having the liquor and wine section accessible only through its own entrance, Lentz said."

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