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TRI-COUNTY AREA   ADVERTISEMENT

Grocery store wine sales debate is back

TRI-COUNTY AREA—Gov. David Paterson is once again pushing for wine to be allowed in grocery stores, and area winery and liquor store owners are mixed as to whether it will succeed this year.
Oskar Bynke, marketing representative for Herman J. Wiemer Vineyard, said he didn’t think Paterson’s wine in grocery stores proposal would make it this year.  However, not because of the subject of wine at all.  He said that given the current situation Paterson is in, his proposal in general will be met with disapproval.
Bynke added that he is against wine in New York grocery stores.  He said that given Paterson’s current proposal, wineries would just be hurt.  He said all parties concerned should discuss together what everyone needs.
One of the issues Bynke said he has with the current proposal is that entities would have the chance to “pay to play,” or pay for shelf space in supermarkets.  He added that in New York, wineries have become more centered on quality, not focusing as much on the amount of wine produced.  Bynke explained that if wineries were producing for supermarkets, those companies would want quantity.
Ray Spencer, one of the owners of Lake Street Wines and Spirits in Penn Yan, said he believes the proposal will not pass this year.  He said the effort to put wine in grocery stores was actually stronger last year, and it was still shot down.  So, he said be believes it would be the same this year as well.
Susan Hayes, co-owner of Miles Wine Cellars, said as pro-”wine in grocery stores,” she is seeing a more positive attitude from state legislatures.  While she couldn’t say if the proposition would pass this year, Hayes said she was hopeful.  Hayes explained the new proposal also allows liquor stores to sell food products like cheese.
She added a lobby/educational group has been formed, called the New York Wine Industry Association, of which she is the vice-president.  Scott Osborn, Fox Run Vineyards, is the president of the group and Dave Mansfield, Three Brothers Winery, is the treasurer.
She said the group meets monthly and is going to Albany to meet legislators as a group soon.  Hayes added someone already is driving to Albany on most Tuesdays to do this alone.  She said the representatives she is speaking to now have been “a lot more positive than last year.”
Hayes said that in Paterson’s proposal this year, the franchise fee (for businesses that make over $1 million, wanting to sell wine) is supposed to generate $300 million for the state’s deficit.
The Schuyler County Legislature has come out in support of wine in grocery stores.  County Administrator Tim O’Hearn said the legislature voted to support it after consulting with local wineries.  He said the legislature believes it would benefit area agricultural businesses and be “a boon to the local economy.” 
 





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