After a long struggle and compromise, the bill allowing wine in Tennessee grocery stores have left the legislature and been sent to Governor Bill Haslam for signature. However, bills that would potentially do much more to help the Tennessee wine industry are making their way through the legislature with much less opposition.
Representative Bill Sanderson is excited about the bills and says “the states around us have passed us by in terms of legislation, but House Bill 2027 and 1062 will put Tennessee’s wine industry in a position to grow.”
House Bill 2027 would establish a small winery licenses and allow wineries to charge for tastings and hold off site tasting events, or even sell wines by the glass. Sanderson believes that this bill in combination with HB1062, which would allow wineries without a distributor to sell up to 3,000 cases directly to hotels and restaurants, would give Tennessee’s wine industry necessary flexibility within the three tier system.
Both bills are making their way through house committees without the level of controversy that the wine in grocery stores bill saw, which though it passed the legislature will not start benefiting consumers for some time. Not until July of 2016 will consumers see wine on their grocery store’s shelves, and then only if they place a measure on a local ballot and pass it.
By Kim Johannsen