Grocery Wine Bill Negotiations Near Breakthrough

Grocery Wine Bill Negotiations Near Breakthrough

CREATED Jan 21, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NewsChannel 5/AP) -  After years of bitter legislative fights over efforts to allow Tennessee grocery stores to sell wine, groups representing liquor stores and supermarkets are nearing an agreement that would give the measure its best ever chances of becoming law.

David McMahan, a lobbyist for the Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association, told The Associated Press that the two sides are "very, very close" on a deal that would allow cities and counties to vote on whether to allow wine sales in supermarkets. But the measure would maintain the current ban at convenience stores and big box retailers like Wal-Mart.

Under current law, supermarkets and convenience stores can't sell anything stronger than beer containing 6.5 percent alcohol by volume. Anything stronger can only be sold in liquor stores.

Members of the TWSRA, like Red Dog Wine & Spirits owner Bard Quillman, said they hadn't heard anything about a potential deal.

Quillman still worries about the impact on his business, which he has run for the last 13 years.

"When you structure a business under a certain business model and then that business model is thrown out you have to figure out whether you're going to be able to adapt," Quillman said. "Or will I go out of business? Maybe I can't make the money that's sufficient to provide the livelihood for my six employees and my family. I don't know the answer to that question. I won't know the answer to that question for quite some time."

NewsChannel 5's attempts to contact McMahan for comment were unsuccessful.

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