Grocery Wine Sales Up for Vote Again in New York?

New bill aims to permit vino at traditional grocery stores, but not mass or c-stores
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Two state legislators in New York have sponsored a bill that would give grocers the ability to sell wine in their stores.

A few months after voters in Colorado approved a measure to allow wine sales in grocery stores, legislators in New York are debating a similar proposal. Two lawmakers in the state have floated a ballot measure that would give grocers the green light to sell wine, but not mass merchandisers, convenience stores, drug stores or fuel stations.

“I have been championing this issue – allowing consumers to buy wine in their local grocery stores – for many years. When friends come to visit from places like Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, or D.C., they’re often dismayed to discover the law won’t let them buy wine in the grocery store. But it’s time to change that this year,” said one of the measure’s sponsors, State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan).

Her co-sponsor, Assembly Member Pamela Hunter (D-Syracuse), underscored the consumer interest driving the legislation. “Consumers want the convenience of purchasing wine in grocery stores – where they buy their food and other beverages, such as beer. It’s good for consumers and it’s good for a critical New York industry,” she declared. “Upstate New York – like the East End of Long Island – has so many vineyards and wineries, both old and new, that would benefit from being able to sell and promote their New York products in grocery stores across the state.”

Krueger and Hunter said they hope to have their bill considered by the New York legislature before the summer recess. They cited a poll from Siena College showing that 76% of voters in New York support the move. The lawmakers also noted that support seems to be bi-partisan, with 79% of Republicans and 76% of Democrats in favor of grocery store wine sales.  

As in Colorado, several owners of liquor stores have come out in opposition to the bill, sending a joint letter with some industry groups to New York state senators and representatives on the matter. “This misguided idea has been raised and rejected many times for good reason. Weakening the law to allow wine in grocery stores will devastate our small community businesses, increase underage drinking, contribute to premature deaths, and help Amazon/Whole Foods and other large multinational corporations in their effort to monopolize the wine & spirits market,” they wrote.

Nelson Eusebio, director of government relations at the National Supermarket Association, weighed in on the ballot measure, too. “On behalf of the 600 independent grocers from Long Island to Brooklyn who make up our association, I strongly support this proposal,” Eusebio remarked. “It will be great for our customers, who want the convenience, and for our independent store owners and their employees, who have been hit with so much during the pandemic and since. I look forward to working with our fellow independent small businesses to make this bill a reality this year.”

Currently, wine can be sold in grocery stores in 40 U.S. states.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds