Distilling the truth — our version

The Food With Wine Coalition is the Kentucky version of our campaign. We have shared information and ideas back and forth the last year. We support them, and they support us.

It turns out that our opponents are apparently sharing the same playbook -– the same nefarious playbook.

Our opponents are the Tennesseans Against Teen Drinking. They are most visible through their website www.stopteendrinkingtn.org. The organization claims to be committed to teens and preventing access to alcohol. Tennesseans Against Teen Drinking does not have a board of directors. As far as we can tell, it hasn’t held any events, except for posing in front of a liquor store for a picture. It doesn’t even have a snail mail address.

If you dig (by “dig,” we mean find the one link buried at the bottom of a page) into their website, you will find that organization is primarily sponsored by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee and the Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retail Association. These are the two groups who have the most to gain by maintaining Tennessee’s government sanctioned monopoly on wine sales.

Kentucky’s opponents are playing the same game. Their website is entitled Distilling The Truth. If you distill down their website, here’s what you find. No board. No events. A lot of dire predictions about a future where consumers have more choices. And, you have to really search to discover that the content (COUGH! funding COUGH!) was provided Kentucky Liquor Retailers Coalition.

We can’t figure out why these organizations are so embarrassed to acknowledge publicly that they are funded and managed by the people who distribute and sell wine and spirits. It’s not as if educated consumers can’t figure that out.

Let’s close the loop on this whole transparency topic. Red White and Food is a campaign to allow retail food stores to sell wine. The Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association is the primary sponsor.

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11 Responses to “Distilling the truth — our version”

  1. jerry Says:

    Don’t you think you’re being a little petty here. The name Red White and Food and Food with Wine Coalition doesn’t jump out that you are grocery stores. What’s the big deal about the names being used by the other groups, particularly the one from Ky? Of course the liquor stores are opposed to you selling wine. I checked out the Ky website and its clear who is sponsoring that. Didn’t see anything being hidden. If they are telling lies, then maybe you have the right to be petty, but you’re only complaining about their name. Come on. Stick to the topic and don’t be so petty.

    • redwhiteandfood Says:

      Jerry — Thanks for your comment. Our issue is not with campaign names. You’re right to that that would is petty. In fact, we think it’s clever the Kentucky liquor industry is using http://www.wineingrocerystores.com as its website address. Our issue is that openness and honesty are almost as important to this debate as consumer choice. Grocery customers ask for wine all the time. We can’t sell it to them, but we want to. That is free trade. We’ve been open and honest about that from the beginning. The liquor industry wants to maintain its monopoly and market control. Please show us where the liquor industry says that.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Transparency? Your website doesn’t mention that your proposal is to really put cheap wine in gas stations. Next you’ll be lobbying for the beer industry, because if 20% alcohol beverages can be at the gas station, why not 8% malt liquor? Then you’ll want the grocery stores to sell liquor, which would also mean gas stations. The current system leaves high alcohol products in the hands of Tennessee citizens, who have relationships with the community, it’s not perfect but it has done well enough so far. Your promising boutique wine in fancy, pretty grocery stores, but you’ll be giving us cheap wine at gas stations for bums to buy with the money they panhandle. Why don’t you put some pictures on your website of bums drinking wine.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Exactly. My family’s store is part of the system. A system set up by the State of Tennessee. We see panhandlers on the interstate almost everyday, and what a surprise, they try to come to the store with their earnings. We kick them out. But they are still at that intersection, and sleeping in the woods here at Turkey Creek (pictures available for your website if you want them) because they are getting beer at the gas stations nearby. Your proposal puts “bum wine” – often made by the same companies who make popular “fine wine” brands – in the same gas stations. Nothing you have ever written disputes this fact. The companies who sell “fine wine” will have their salesmen out selling their “bum wine” brands at gas stations as a source of additional revenue. There can’t be one without the other. You haven’ been honest about this on your blog.
    The current system leaves high-alcohol products in the hands of locals who care about their communities, because they have to live there too.
    There’s more at stake than just Tennessee jobs, there’s economic destabilisation, statewide GDP shrink and public safety issues to consider. Like I said, the current system isn’t perfect, but your proposing a slippery slope that could lead to chaos. If gas stations can sell 18% alcohol bum wines, then the beer lobby will want 8%-10% malt liquor in there too, and why not, if “consumers” want it? They could sue and win if your legislation passes.

    The next thing we may here from you could be “Why Not Liquor?” You would use the same logic you are using now.

    I’m not posting on your blog because I want a “protectionist” system to continue, I’m posting this because I care about Tennessee, where I live and work. I even care about homeless people. But not everyone does. That’s why, in my opinion, wine licensing should stay the way it is.

    Thanks for the “shout out”. Looking forward to more of your posts.

    Jeff Gettelfinger

    • redwhiteandfood Says:

      We’ve heard of your family and have no doubt you care about the Knoxville community. You are correct that the definition of retail food stores as it stands right now includes convenience stores. You are incorrect that the c-store industry is pushing this legislation so they can sell cheap wine to homeless people. That’s patently not true. The circumstances near your store are unfortunate. Aren’t there better solutions to the problem other than restricting free trade and denying consumer choice?

  4. Anonymous Says:

    It still will happen. That is my point. People who have been in this business know this. It may not be your trade lobby’s members even. But allowing gas stations to sell high-alcohol products opens the door. A door that can’t ever be closed.
    You didn’t answer the other questions.
    By the way, one of our companies is a member of the Tennessee Oil and Gas Marketers Association, who supports (that is pays) your lobby.
    My positions are based on what is correct economically, aesthetically, and morally, not neccessarily for the benefit of where I work and who I care about, but more out of concern for making Tennessee “ugly” – and that is where your proposals will lead. Maybe not for the beautiful people who come to your meetings, but for everyone else, especially those who don’t have lobbyists working for them, like the working poor.
    And no – denying “consumer choice” is exactly what we do. If bums come to the store with money and ID in hand – we still will not sell it to them because we know we should not. Bums are alcohol consumers. We deny them choice. Your system does not.

  5. hydraulic jacks Says:

    I must say, I can not agree with you in 100%, but it’s just my opinion, which indeed could be very wrong.
    p.s. You have a very good template . Where did you find it?

  6. Anonymous Says:

    It’s OK to not agree, but after 20 years I’ve seen every side of this business, good, bad, ugly, even disgusting. And the saddest part of it is the homeless. Tennessee laws cut it down as much as possible, but because our laws are working, this lobbyist thinks Big Wine and Big Retail and TOMA can sneak in the changes they want, effectively outsourcing the wine market. From what happens in other states (not the pretty places you see during oceanside vacations), the results would be disastrous – a huge step backward.
    We had the template custom made from public domain artwork. It is a Flash/HTML combination.
    BTW, on Feb 24, the KPD rounded up the homeless panhandlers. I hope they don’t show back up again when March is over.

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