Senate subcommittee scheduled for Nov. 17

Next Monday, a Senate subcommittee will hear presentations about and discuss wine legislation pending before the next General Assembly, including wine in retail food stores and direct shipping.

The hearing starts at 1 p.m. in Legislative Plaza Room 12. It will be streamed live on the General Assembly website (instructions below).

Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) will chair the subcommittee. He is also the sponsor of legislation to allow wine sales in retail food stores. Senators Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) are the other subcommittee members. Other legislators may attend.

The subcommittee will not vote during the meeting. Its purpose is to explore the issues in depth in advance of the next legislative session.

Red, White & Food will have about an hour to make its case for wine sales in retail food stores. We will focus on the same issues we have from the beginning:

  • Consumer demand for change
  • The Responsible Vendor Act
  • Fiscal impact on the state
  • Positive changes in the wine market

The wholesalers and liquor retailers will roll out three liquor store owners who will decry competition and predict a massive loss of jobs at liquor stores. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Empirical evidence says this is false, but who are they to let facts get in the way of emotion.)

The last hour will focus on direct shipping of wine.

The public is welcome to attend the meeting. However, there will not be a public hearing or opportunity to address the committee at this meeting.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR VIDEO STREAMING ON NOV. 17

  1. Go to the Senate videostreaming schedule
  2. Click the video camera icon next to Alcoholic Beverage Sub-Comm
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5 Responses to “Senate subcommittee scheduled for Nov. 17”

  1. Tonto Says:

    If we expect wine/liquor store owners to be supportive of the proposed legislation, it should be noted the number of products avilable to any retailer is finite. The ABC board has restricted the products that any retailer can sell. They must be certified before they ABC will “allow” sales in th state. Furthermore, it is the will of the Wholesalers group to determine which products they want to sell. Hence, retailers are still at the mercy of the Wholesalers group.

    If Whole Foods were to sell wine in their stores, this would leave less room for wine store X to carry unique lesser known producers that Whole Foods did not.

  2. redwhiteandfood Says:

    You are correct. Retailers can sell liquor (state law technically considers wine and liquor as the same) and lottery tickets. Red, White & Food proposed last year that retailers be allowed to sells mixers, glasses, ice, corkscrews and other products related to the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

    Retail food stores will likely not stock unique or rare wines. Their goal is to stock shelves with product that move quickly. In most cases, this will include moderately priced wines from popular producers. This creates a great opportunity for liquor retailers to become specialty wine stores as people move up to better, more expensive wines.

  3. A saucy cause to get behind. | Jen-sized Says:

    […] called Red Wine and Food that is pushing for food stores to be allowed to sell wine. According to their blog, a state senate subcommittee will be having a hearing Monday to discuss wine legislation, including […]

  4. Tonto Says:

    In response to RedWhite:

    While I agree with the premise that some grocers may stick to the bottom of the barrel vintages that you can find in the most basic of wine stores, I believe this is an enormous assumption. Grocers are constantly changing their interiors, marketing strategies, inventory, etc. to keep up with market trends. One only needs to look at stores such as Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or Fresh Market to realize this. Changing the laws on certification must be a piece of this lobbying effort.

    If the Grocer’s Association is to pass a law this session or next, they will need to take on liquor laws with a broad approach with a focus towards the future. With this approach, support could easily be garnered from restaurant chefs, nightclub/pub owners, liquor store owners, etc.

    A few laws that impact other parties include:

    Club owners in Nashville can only purchase liquor brand A from distributor ___. This monopolizes the market as the same product cannot be purchased from a distributor in another part of the state, nor can this product be purchased from a distributor outside the state. Can you say price fixing?

    The same is true for restaurant owners and their chefs. This greatly limits their ability to create name recognition on a national scale. Wine pairings add to their bottom line. State law restricts what wines they can purchase. Not much room for innovation on a regular basis is there?

    Ditto on liquor stores.

    Liquor store owners cannot own more than one store. So any grocer that would potentially sell wine cannot be partr of a national chain. And they would likely be unable to serve as their own distributor, because who else would they trust to distribute their house brand of wine?

  5. winechick Says:

    Just a response to Tonto:

    “the same product cannot be purchased from a distributor in another part of the state, nor can this product be purchased from a distributor outside the state. Can you say price fixing?'”

    There is no state, grocery or non-grocery, that allows the purchase of alcohol over state borders. Each state has unique laws governing alcohol and therefore shipment must stay within the borders of each individual state.

    “Furthermore, it is the will of the Wholesalers group to determine which products they want to sell. Hence, retailers are still at the mercy of the Wholesalers group.”

    You make it seem as though the distributor network is in the business of deciding what it sells at what price and to whom. This is incorrect. If a retailer would like to sell a certain item, by golly we’ll get it for them if it is licensed by the ABC for our state and available according to inventory. Distributors are in the business of doing business and no retailer should ever be “at mercy” to a wholesaler.

    “grocers may stick to the bottom of the barrel vintages that you can find in the most basic of wine stores”

    By saying “bottom of the barrel vintages” you mischaracterize the fundamental intent of grocery stores. The wines that a grocery store carries are set according to a schematic made from national IRI or Nielson data listing the top 50-100 brands in the US by volume. The majority of these brands are none in which a certain vintage would make a difference at all, much less inhibit sales.

    Working in the industry in both a grocery and a non-grocery state I must say that I am neither for or against this change. There are many pros and cons to both sides and many people who will be affected by the passing of this bill.

    It is important to realize that the effects of this bill affect many individual’s lives. It is for this reason that many against the bill reject it simply as a “matter of convenience”.

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