To Revive Wine in Supermarkets, Morelle Proposes a Compromise

ALBANY—Assemblyman Joe Morelle is trying to bring focus back to one of the issues David Paterson proposed during budget time, but which never made it into the final spending plan: allowing supermarkets to sell wine.

Morelle supports the measure, as do many wineries, on the grounds it will increase sales, but liquor stores are opposed. Today Morelle announced he is introducing a compromise measure that will allow liquor stores to sell some food items, as well as other paraphernalia, and to open multiple locations. It's basically a bone to liquor-store owners in exchange for some movement on the wine issue.

"I truly see this as a win-win for everyone," Morelle said in a press release. "New York's wine and grape industries will prosper as a result of increased sales, supermarkets will add a new dimension to their product lines, liquor store proprietors will have additional tools with which to compete in this new environment, and taxpayers will benefit from more than $150 million in new revenues for state government. It is my hope that we will begin these discussions anew and reach a solution that meets the needs of all involved."

The liquor stores did not bite.

"Our position is we just need to keep doing business the way we've done business," said Marc Ressler, owner of Midnight Liquors in Tonawanda and vice president of the state Liquor Store Association. "Generally, the rules the way they are right now protect us and protect our customers."

He added: "These enticements that they're trying to put into the Morelle bill generally aren't acceptable" and would turn liquor stores into "convenience stores."

The issue will have to compete for time and attention with lots of other things as the legislative session comes to an end.

To Revive Wine in Supermarkets, Morelle Proposes a Compromise