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Wegmans helps push proposal to allow wine sales in New York supermarkets

Beth Adams/WXXI News

There is another push to allow supermarkets to sell wine in their stores in New York State.

That’s something that chains like Wegmans have lobbied for in past years, and a somewhat modified bill is being proposed again.

In recent weeks, there have been signs in front of Wegmans stores headlined, ‘It’s finally time for wine’ and suggesting shoppers contact their state legislators asking New York to approve the bill that would allow wine sales in supermarkets.

Wegmans released this statement:

Wegmans has always been a strong supporter of New York made products. We are in favor of providing convenience for New York consumers, creating jobs, and doing everything possible to support the New York wine industry. We are proud to support legislation that would give New York consumers access to wine in grocery stores, like 40 other states already do.

One of the backers of the legislation is Nelson Eusebio, an official with the National Supermarket Association.

He points to a Siena College survey which shows about 75% of New Yorkers favor the idea.

“It’s right for New York because we’re at a period of time where New Yorkers are more diverse than ever,” said Eusebio. “We have gentrification that’s just exploded all over upstate New York and downstate and people are asking for quality products in their supermarkets and they want to have wine in their local stories.’’

But Nelson Habecker, who owns East Avenue Liquor & Wine, which is just down the street from a Wegmans store, said that if the state allows wine sales in supermarkets, it would force a lot of liquor stores out of business.

“it’s very detrimental to us; they take half our sales away from us, and they expect us to survive on less revenue,” Harbecker said. "We have employees that are trained to present wine and spirits, who are certified sommeliers and spirit specialists who can help the customer out more than a Wegmans supermarket cashier could do.”

New York is among the 11 states in the U.S. that do not allow grocery stores to carry wine.

When asked recently about the latest effort to allow wine sales in supermarkets, Governor Kathy Hochul said she is waiting to see what the legislature does. But it’s not certain yet whether lawmakers will take up the issue before their session ends on June 8.

This story includes reporting from WNYC/The Gothamist.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.