New York Retailers Consider Wine in Supermarkets

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New York Retailers Consider Wine in Supermarkets

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The debate over whether supermarkets in New York should sell wine has re-ignited, spurred by the state's lifting of a five-year moratorium on new liquor-store licenses that passed last summer.

Supporters say allowing wine to be sold by the state's 19,000 grocery and convenience stores could bring in more than $68 million in tax revenues for the cash-strapped state. But liquor stores are concerned a new law would cripple their businesses, most of which depend on wine profits, according to a report in the Rochester, N.Y., Democrat and Chronicle.

Discussed for more than 10 years, the issue seemed dead in June when the state initially passed the moratorium, which was meant to protect liquor stores from new, larger competition that wants to capitalize on a provision that allowed liquor stores to open on Sundays. However, the moratorium caused confusion over who was eligible for the licenses, Assemblyman Ronald Canestrari (D-Albany) told the newspaper. It was lifted during a one-day legislative session in September.

"It was causing financial hardships on too many people," Canestrari said.

In January, Assemblyman Peter Abbate, Jr. (D-Brooklyn), submitted a bill to allow wine sales at supermarkets. Support for the bill, however, has not been strong.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is not considering the bill, one of his spokespeople said, and there is little support in the Republican-controlled state Senate.

"I don't feel the major chains are ultimately going to be good for our wine industry," Assemblyman William Reilich (R-Greece) told the newspaper. "They are going to be reaching out to California and other parts of the country. And then what next, do they open up their own winery and their own private label?"