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Tennessee Wine Sales in Grocery Stores Could Be Reality This Year

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (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 or Target.


"The real issue is whether or not that consumer deserves the convenience of being able to buy wine where they buy their groceries," McMahan said. "And that's what we're interested in working on, and helping the Legislature find a solution to."


Under current law, supermarkets and convenience stores can sell beer containing up to 6.5 percent alcohol by volume. Anything stronger can only be sold in liquor stores, which can't sell anything beyond booze and lottery tickets. The proposed law change would allow liquor stores to sell a variety of other items like cigarettes, beer and food.


McMahan said the liquor stores are in "in lockstep" with the state's liquor wholesalers in seeking the compromise, which represents a vast departure from the fierce opposition the groups voiced to any changes proposed in the past.


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