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Should grocery stores in Tennessee be allowed to sell wine?

December 19th, 2011 6:47 am by Staff Report

Tennessee legislators will again be asked to remove the state’s ban on wine sales in grocery stores when they return to Nashville next year. Supporters say they are undaunted by recent history, which has seen lawmakers refuse to change the state’s liquor laws.

If you want to buy a bottle of wine in Tennessee you must go to a liquor store licensed by the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Some wine enthusiasts think you should be able to buy a bottle of vino at a local grocery store, just as residents of North Carolina and Virginia are allowed to do.

Proponents of changing Tennessee law to allow wine to be sold in supermarkets say it would result in lower prices for customers. They also believe allowing grocery stores to sell wine will make it more convenient for consumers to buy it.

On the other hand, liquor store operators say changing wine sales would hurt their business and put many of their employees out of work.

Several bills aimed at allowing wine sales in grocery stores have stalled in the state General Assembly in recent years, thanks in large part to strong lobbying by the liquor industry.

Even so, Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, is gearing up for another try when the state General Assembly returns to Nashville in January. Lundberg is the primary sponsor of legislation to allow grocery stores to sell wine. Last week,
The Beacon Center of Tennessee — a libertarian-style advocacy group — announced its annual “Lump of Coal” award this year went to the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee for its success efforts to delay action on Lundberg’s bill.
“The liquor lobby, led by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee, has used questionable tactics to scare rural Tennesseans and lawmakers into erroneously believing that allowing grocery stores to sell wine will bring about some type of booze-propelled chaos, all in an effort to protect its powerful monopoly over wine,” Justin Owen, the Beacon Center’s president and CEO, said in a news release.

Tell us what you think. Should grocery stores be allowed to sell wine in Tennessee?

Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification.

We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks. You also can go to   to cast a vote in the online poll. Results of the poll, along with comments from readers, will appear on the Opinion page Dec. 28.

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