Fresh off boosting cigarette taxes, New York is ready to give smokers a replacement for their beloved lung shredders: wine! The state’s latest budget gap killer would allow nearly 20,000 grocery stores to sell bottles of vino, hauling in up to $300 million.
For the moment, New York is one of seventeen states that won’t let grocers sell wine.
New York winemakers are enthusiastic about the proposal. The state ranks 4th in domestic wine production (behind California, Washington and Oregon, all of which allow the sale of wine in grocery stores) but 11th in wine sales. The state also ranks behind less populous states such as North Carolina, Ohio and Michigan in sales. Winemakers and farmers attribute those statistics to the levels of state restrictions on sales, including the ban on selling wine in grocery stores.
The provision is stuffed into Governor Patterson’s latest emergency spending measure, which the legislature will vote on Monday. If it fails, the state will shut down and we’ll have to keep schlepping to the liquor store for our bottles of white.