The long-simmering battle to sell wine in New York grocery stores has been freshly uncorked.
A bill that would allow supermarkets to sell wine is currently stalled in Albany, but the New York Wine Industry Association and other groups are hoping a new study will force Gov. Andrew Cuomo to change his mind on the issue.
The study, "The Economic Impact of Allowing Shoppers to Purchase Wine in Food Stores," released last week, argues that allowing New York supermarkets to sell wine would boost the wine, supermarket and liquor store industries.
The report was conducted by the Food Marketing Institute, a national supermarket association. It says that in 1976 there were 19 wineries in New York State and 4,500 liquor stores. But today, there are 316 wineries in the state and only about 2,600 liquor stores.
Supporters say that in order for wineries to flourish, they need more stores to stock their bottles.
"The small wineries can't get shelf space now," said Carol Doolittle, who owns Frontenac Point Vineyard, in the upstate town of Trumansburg, N.Y. "There's no place to sell our wine."
Cuomo said earlier this year he is against selling wine in grocery stores.
"I think it would be disruptive to many stores, mom-and-pop shops," said Cuomo in January. "I don't think the benefit outweighs the cost."
But Doolittle insists that allowing people to buy wine in supermarkets would open up a new market and increase the number of wine drinkers and therefore wine buyers, helping local liquor stores as well.
No place for vino in groceries, say some opponents
Many independent wine and liquor store owners want to keep wine off supermarket shelves and dozens of wineries feel the same way.
Frank Giresi, 54, who owns Bowery and Vine wine shop and has run wine stores in Little Italy for more than 24 years, says letting supermarkets get into the wine business would push out small stores.
"They've already taken away the fishmongers, the butchers and the bakers -- and now they want the wine people as well," Giresi said of supermarkets. "I don't understand why they need more profit."
He said he goes out of his way to stock New York area wines and that if given the chance, supermarkets wouldn't. "I carry 30 wines from New York," Giresi said. "Supermarkets will sell the most generic crap they can make money off of. It will be a very pedestrian wine selection."
Wine bill on the shelf
In 2009, Elizabeth Krueger, D-Manhattan, introduced a bill to the New York Senate that, if passed, would allow grocery stores to serve wine, wine and liquor stores to serve food and businesses to have more than one liquor license.
"It's 2012, why do we still have Prohibition-era laws on our books?" said Krueger. "We should help New York State's wine industry by giving shoppers better access to their products."
The bill is currently pending in committee.