Monday, March 16, 2009

Posting the Truth on Wine

It's getting to be redundant, but that's what happens when something is so self-evident; as the benefits for allowing the sale of wine in grocery stores surely is. The latest evidence is found in today's editorial in the NY Post: "With potentially more than $100 million in new revenue dangling be fore their eyes, lawmakers in Albany may finally do New Yorkers a favor - and let groceries sell wine. We'll raise a glass to that."

And the Post lashes out at the fact that the archaic state law raises prices to New York's consumers because of the lack of competition: "This bizarre rule dates back to Prohibition. But it's left the state with just 2,700 nonrestaurant retail wine-sale venues - for nearly 20 million residents. The result: New York is one of the least convenient places in America to buy wine. (With just shy of twice New York's population, California boasts 10 times the number of wine-retail outlets.) New Yorkers pay more, too - thanks to the lack of competition. Lifting the outdated ban would boost the number of venues tenfold, proponents predict, saving consumers some $80 million a year."

The paper also appreciates the potential revenue gains for the state: "And by licensing new outlets, the state can quickly produce a cool $100 million in licensing fees, to help plug a $14 billion budget hole. Albany's drunken sailors should love that idea. Of course, most New Yorkers like it, too: Some 68 percent say they want to be able to buy wine in grocery stores."

Which leaves only the monopolists opposed: "Actually, there is a group opposed. Yup, you guessed it: liquor-store owners, who now hold a monopoly on retail sales. To fight the reform, they've invented a few excuses: Underage drinking will soar, they claim - though teens tend to buy beer, not wine, and that's already sold in groceries. Liquor stores, facing new competition, may close, they say - killing jobs. Maybe. But even more new jobs will pop up to help distribute, market, stock and sell the product at the new outlets."

And, of course, a local industry could be bolstered as well: "Indeed, demand for New York-produced wine is likely to grow. Then Empire State vintners would need to up production, creating still more jobs - a nice shot in the arm for a neglected homegrown industry."

So let's get this show on the road-and, as the Post says; "Albany shouldn't keep wine sales, um, bottled up. It's time to let grocers sell wine."