Supermarket wine supporters begin petition drive

Friday, June 6, 2014, Vol. 38, No. 23

NASHVILLE (AP) - A coalition that advocated for supermarket wine sales has kicked off a statewide campaign to gather signatures in an effort to get the measure on the November ballot.

Under a law that passed this year, wine can be sold by grocery and conveniences stores starting in July 2016 if citizens vote to approve the change.

Red White and Food, which is led by the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association, lobbied for the change to state law that previously only allowed wine to be sold in liquor stores. Now, The Tennessean reports the group is trying to collect enough signatures in 156 communities to get the measure on the ballot.

"The bill's passage was just the beginning of the process," said Kroger spokeswoman Melissa Eads. "The campaign is far from over."

Only communities that currently allow package stores or liquor by the drink are eligible to hold votes as long as at least 10 per cent of voters in the community sign petitions. In Metro Nashville, organizers will have to get 15,000 signatures.

"Everywhere we can get, we're going to try to get," Eads said. "We'll try our best not to forget anybody."

The group and its supporters have until Aug. 21 to gather the signatures.

"We really have a very significant challenge before us," said House Speaker Beth Harwell, who pushed the bill through the legislature.