Tag Archives: wine

On opening day, 459 wine-in-grocery-stores licenses in effect

News release from Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission
Nashville, TN – Effective at 8:00 a.m. today, 459 licensed retail food stores across Tennessee may lawfully sell wine to persons over twenty-one (21) years old. The roll out of “wine in grocery stores,” also called WIGS, represents a milestone in the alcoholic beverage history of Tennessee.

Today marks the culmination of an enormous amount of hard work of Tennessee legislators, staff at the ABC, and industry representatives. WIGS illustrates that with cooperation, hard work, and professionalism, the public and private sectors can work together towards a common objective to ensure the success of a dramatic change in the law.

“The ABC cooperated with corporate executives, small business owners, legislators, industry representatives, and various state agencies to effectively implement a dramatic change in the law”, said Commissioner Mary McDaniel. “Commissioner Jones, Commissioner Kaegi, and I commend all parties involved for this hard work. As a commission, we remain committed to fostering a business-friendly environment that enforces the state’s law in a responsible manner and in a spirit of fairness and equity”.

As of this morning, all applicants who submitted the necessary paperwork hold a license to begin selling wine. ABC agents completed 578 site inspections by the end of business on Wednesday, and staff has completed reviews of 578 applications.

“Throughout the lengthy application process, I was impressed with the employees at the TABC” said Kenneth Osborne, owner of the Piggly Wiggly and Bi-Rite in Nashville. “They were happy to be helpful in explaining in detail every step that we needed to take and I was surprised at how efficiently they were able to process and issue licenses for the hundreds of applications received in such a short amount of time.”

Remaining applications, which were generally submitted in late May or mid-June, generally require proof of responsible vendor training for clerks and at least one designated manager before a license may be issued. Staff continues to consult with stores without a license to ensure all the requirements are completed.

“Licensed retail food stores in the state are authorized to sell wine July 1st and 2nd; however, under state law, the sale of wine is prohibited on Sunday and the Fourth of July holiday” said Clay Byrd Executive Director. “We want to encourage the public to be safe this weekend and to ask the industry to be diligent in fulfilling the detailed provisions of the new law.”

Next year’s booze bill: Liquor sales on Sundays?

In a lengthy review of change in Tennessee liquor laws, the highlight being wine in grocery stores, the Nashville Scene suggests the next step: Sunday sales of liquor and wine by the bottle.

Why should a grocery store be permitted to sell beer until 3 a.m. on Sundays but have to cut off wine sales at 11 p.m. and refuse to sell on Sundays? But in a compromise with the liquor retail industry, the grocery lobby agreed to the different hours, at least for now.

Everyone knows the fix is temporary. The question is, how long before it changes?

“I think maybe a year or two — let’s take a breather,” Ketron says of when he might introduce legislation syncing the days and times that wine and beer can be sold. “But it’s the next logical step that people want.”

Ketron points out that many people are skirting Sunday sales already by going to a restaurant, ordering a bottle of wine, sipping maybe half a glass, and then taking the bottle home under corkage provisions. Besides, distilleries in the state can already sell their wares on Sundays, meaning there is currently a legal way to buy liquor on the Lord’s Day.

Cheek thinks it will take a couple of tries to get Sunday sales through; Ketron estimates “up to five years.” But Ikard thinks if enough consumers contact their legislators this fall — and enough grocery store owners point out what a pain the law is — the change could be sooner.

“I think we could possibly change that next session,” Ikard says.

Even retailers seem resigned to the eventuality.

WIGS, guns-on-campus among laws taking effect July 1 (with list)

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Wine will be available in Tennessee supermarkets, professors will be allowed to carry guns on public college campuses, and drivers will be subject to stricter penalties for texting on the road, under new laws taking effect Friday.

Many bills passed by lawmakers this year took effect upon being signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, but others were linked to the start of the new budget year, which starts July 1.

The campus-carry bill was the result of heavy negotiations between gun-rights advocates and higher-education officials who opposed allowing more weapons on campus.

The law keeps gun bans in place for stadiums or gymnasiums during school-sponsored events; meetings where disciplinary or tenure issues are being discussed; hospitals or offices where medical or mental health services are provided; and any location prohibited by another law, such as at day care centers or elementary schools located on campus.

Those changes made the bill more palatable to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

“I was not in favor of that law to begin with, because whoever controls any piece of property should be able to decide what happens on that piece of property,” the governor told reporters this week. Continue reading

ABC says licenses issued to most WIGS applicants

News release from Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission
The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission announced today that it delivered, in less than one week, retail food store licenses to over 50% of grocery stores in the state applying to sell wine by July 1st.

With less than two weeks to go, the ABC has also issued conditional “letters of approval” to nearly 80% of grocery store applicants. Stores holding a conditional “letter of approval” are authorized to accept delivery and stock wine. Grocery stores without a letter of approval are either missing required documentation or were submitted closer to the upcoming rollout.

State legislators and industry representatives in previous weeks had expressed concern over the rollout of wine in grocery stores given the unexpected departure of the previous Executive Director just three months before the new law takes effect.

However, as of last week, the commission had received 499 applications, sent 398 letters of approval, and delivered 279 retail food store licenses. In other words, 70% of grocery stores holding a letter of approval have received a license in hand as of today, which is issued, effective, and post-dated to the date of July 1st. These stores will be authorized to sell wine effective 8:00 a.m. on July 1st. The ABC expects to deliver additional licenses to the remaining qualified stores in the next two weeks.

“We are so pleased that we have completed all the necessary requirements of the application process, and will have all 72 of our eligible stores licensed and ready to sell wine on July 1st”, said Melissa Eads, Kroger Nashville division spokesperson. “We are thankful to the ABC and the Tennessee Legislature for their leadership in bringing wine to retail food stores in Tennessee. Wine has been one of the most requested items in our stores for years, so we know our customers are looking forward to this as well.”

On May 24th, the Commissioners of the ABC appointed Clayton Byrd to serve as its Executive Director. “The staff at the ABC is working tirelessly to process applications, communicate with applicants, conduct site inspections, and verify statutory compliance with documentation.” Byrd said. “I’m committed to the success of this rollout and I’m proud of our team. This commission will continue to work diligently with the industry and in a business friendly manner to ensure continued success.”

Multiple Pilot stations seeking WIGS licenses

In Knoxville, 22 of the 52 local businesses applying to sell wine under a state law taking effect July 1 are Pilot Flying J stations, according to the News-Sentinel.

“The general way people call it is ‘wine in grocery stores,’ but it’s actually somewhat of a misnomer,” said Rob Frost, attorney for Knoxville City Council, which approves all of certificates of compliance. “If you sell above a certain percent of food, you don’t truly have to truly be a grocery store.”

In fact, only 20 percent of a business’s sales must come from retail food, according to the law passed in 2014. The law goes into effect on July 1.

Of the 52 compliance certificates issued so far, Food City has received 10, Kroger nine and Walmart four.

Alyson Dyer, an attorney with the city law office, said she expects more applications to be submitted.

The permits to sell wine are issued by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, but the agency requires a compliance certificate from the local government along with a business’s application.

To receive a compliance certificate, a business must fill out an application with the city, have a background check completed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations and receive confirmation from the Metropolitan Planning Commission that the store is correctly zoned for selling alcohol.

Note: A bill recently approved by the legislature prohibits anyone from owning more than two liquor store, but that applies only to sellers of distilled liquors, not those selling only wine.

WIGS fix goes to governor, liquor store limit intact

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The House passed a bill Monday to impose a cap on liquor store ownership in Tennessee, sending the measure that some Republicans derided as contrary to free market principles to Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk.

The chamber voted 72-16 to pass the measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Curry Todd of Collierville after extensive debate about why the state should protect package store owners from competition.

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick argued that the measure is aimed at preventing out-of-state liquor store chains from setting up shop in Tennessee and tried to dissuade members from the claim that limiting ownership would restrict the flow of alcohol in the state.

“We’re not stopping one drop of liquor from pouring,” said McCormick, R-Chattanooga. “What we’re doing is we’re deciding who makes the money off of it.”
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State ABC chief resigns with WIGS work hanging

Keith Bell, named executive director of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission in 2013, has abruptly announced his resignation from the position in an email to legislators and lobbyists, reports The Tennessean.

The resignation comes with the ABC facing a heavy workload as it prepares for the beginning of wine sales in grocery store starting July 1. And the No. 2 administrator at the ABC is planning to leave in April.

“It’s unfortunate that he’s resigning at this point, because of the need for stability in the department,” said (Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill) Ketron, adding he was “shocked” at Bell’s resignation.

“We didn’t need any instability only 90 days away from implementation from that piece of legislation going into effect.”

Bell notified lawmakers and lobbyists of his decision in an email Thursday. In the email, obtained by The Tennessean, Bell gives few details as to the reason for his departure. He has been executive director of the agency since 2013.

“I have enjoyed my time with each of you and appreciate all your hard work. Keep up the good jobs y’all are doing and thank you,” Bell said in the email.

…Commission Assistant Director Gina Winfree is set to temporarily lead the commission, according to an announcement emailed by Nashville-based law firm Gullett Sanford Robinson & Martin, a firm with several attorneys and lobbyists who focus on alcohol-related issues. But Winfree won’t remain at the commission for long: She’s set to join GSRM as an attorney at some point in late April, according to the firm.

…”Hopefully, the administration and the board will find a new director with a strong administrative and enforcement background, but someone who will not be as egregious in punitive fines for all sectors of the industry,” said Randy Rayburn, a longtime Nashville restaurant executive who owns Midtown Cafe and Cabana.

Leading the ABC is a tough position that easily puts a person at odds with different parts of the industry, said Nashville attorney Will Cheek. Although Cheek, a food and beverage attorney at Bone McAllester Norton, said Bell leaves big shoes to fill, he said the departure may signal the ABC isn’t ready for the influx of applications.

“He may have left now before the train wreck happens,” Cheek said.

WIGS fix bill sent back to House sub

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to impose limits on how many liquor stores can be owned in Tennessee has been sent back to a House subcommittee.

The bill (HB2586) sponsored by Republican Rep. Curry Todd of Collierville has pitted Republicans against each other over questions about why package stores should be given special protection from competition by big chains.

The measure, which has already passed the Senate, had been on the verge of a full floor vote. But the House Calendar Committee voted Thursday to return the bill to the House Finance Subcommittee — a panel that had been unusually bypassed earlier this session.

Todd, a close ally of the liquor wholesalers and retailers lobby, insisted that the move isn’t intended to kill the bill.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam opposes the cap.

Lobbyists get WIGS fix back on track

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A House committee that two weeks ago voted to reject a proposed cap on liquor store ownership in Tennessee reversed course on Tuesday and placed the limits back into the bill headed for a floor vote.

Members of the House Finance Committee previously agreed that imposing the cap on package store ownership would give those businesses protection against market forces that isn’t extended to other sectors of the economy. But under heavy lobbying by liquor store retailers and wholesalers, the members of the panel voted to change their stance.

The vote to reject the creation of a cap on liquor store ownership was 10-9 two weeks ago. The move to restore that that provision was 16-4 on Tuesday.

Republican Rep. Curry Todd of Collierville, the bill’s main sponsor and a close ally of the liquor lobby, said the cap is necessary because owners sell “a dangerous product” that needs tight control.
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Senate approves WIGS fix — with ‘protectionism’

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Efforts to restrict the number of liquor stores that can be owned in Tennessee drew vocal opposition from a Republican lawmaker Monday, who said it is contrary to GOP principles and suggested that supporters may have been “bought and paid for” by lobbying groups.

Republican Sen. Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains derided the bill as “pure, cold, hard protectionism” during a Senate floor debate.

“We didn’t tell CVS and Walgreens that they can’t come in and protect the mom-and-pop pharmacies,” he said. “If you’re for protectionism, you’re probably not a Republican.”

“If you’re voting for this bill because some lobbyist contributed heavily to your campaign, you’re bought and paid for,” Niceley said.
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