Ky. group pushing for wine sales in groceries

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Ky. group pushing for wine sales in groceries

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky is one of 18 states that does not allow wine
sales in grocery stores, but a coalition is looking to change that soon.

The Kentucky Food with Wine Coalition announced Dec. 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 Owensboro

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.

But Lentz says that grocery stores would have fewer regulations about selling
wine than liquor stores, like the age of the salesperson, if the law was

"This is not about convenience," he said. "This is about public policy for a
heavily regulated product. ... Package stores are experts in selling alcohol."

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.


Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer,
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