Local wineries and liquor stores are responding with mixed views to a bill that, if passed, would allow grocery stores to sell wine.
Currently, 36 states, including Maine and Massachusetts, permit some grocery stores to sell wine. House Bill 6101 would allow Connecticut grocery stores that currently sell beer to add wine to the shelves.
Paradise Hills Vineyard and Winery in Wallingford makes wine on site. Marcelo Mena, the vineyard’s general manager and wine maker, sees the change as a great opportunity for people who don’t live near the vineyard to try the wines.
“I think it will be a hard thing to pass, but it will be good for business,” Mena said. “If you like our wine, but you don’t want to make the 30 to 40 minute drive, you can go to Stop & Shop to get it.”
A petition created by CT Wine Now asks people to support the bill.
According to the petition, due to the pandemic customers are looking for “one-stop
shopping.” Aside from convenience, the bill could also generate $12 million in tax revenue per year, the group says.
“It’ll be a new market and a new experience for us so I think it’ll be good,” Mena said. “Every time you get to sell your products somewhere else, it’s always good for business.”
Grocery stores like Stop & Shop, ShopRite, Aldi and smaller, family owned grocery stores like Tops Marketplace in Southington sell beer.
Other supporters include the CT Wine Trail, a collection of 24 vineyards and wineries in the state.
“This will create more local jobs, protect farmland, promote the growth of higher value crops and inspire new growers. The benefits of passing this bill go far beyond customer convenience,” said Johnathan Edwards, president of the CT Vineyard and Winery Association in a statement.
Not all wineries, however, support the bill. Joseph Gouveia, owner of Gouveia Vineyards in Wallingford, is against it.
“I think it’s going to hurt a lot of small wineries and mom and pop package stores,” he said. “When you put Gouveia wine in Stop & Shop and you have wines from all around the world, they can produce wine much, much cheaper than we can in Connecticut.”
Harry Patel, owner of Harry’s Discount Liquor and Wine in Meriden, agrees the bill would hurt small businesses.
“Grocery stores will be making a few extra bucks,” Patel said. “They don’t care that they would be putting small business in jeopardy.”
Patel said he has been able to order particular wines requested by customers. A large store might not be able to provide the same service.
“That kind of law passing, it would kill a small business owner,” he said. “Being a mom and pop, me, my wife and my kids all rely on this business.”
According to the state website, there was a public hearing on the bill on Feb. 4. No action has been taken since then.