published Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

80 Tennessee towns, cities to vote on wine in grocery stores

  • photo
    A sign in a Kroger supermarket in Nashville urges shoppers to sign up for a group urging wine sales in grocery stores.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — Registered voters in 80 Tennessee towns and cities, including Chattanooga, will vote in November on whether to allow the sale of wine in retail food stores, the Red White and Food campaign said Tuesday.

"This is a tremendous accomplishment for the state's retail food stores and for their customers who want to be able to buy wine while shopping for groceries," said Susie Alcorn, Red White and Food campaign manager, in a news release.

She said the group's goal "has always been to give Tennesseans the opportunity to vote on this issue, and now they will have that chance."

Red White and Food, its retail partners and citizen volunteers collected a total of 262,247 signatures statewide on petitions authorizing the wine question to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The petition campaign began in mid-May, and the deadline for signature collection was Aug. 21.

The group's retail partners include Bi-Lo, Food Lion and Publix.

Besides Chattanooga, area municipalities holding referendums include East Ridge, Red Bank, Collegedale, Signal Mountain, Lakesite, Cleveland, Dunlap, Manchester, Monteagle, Crossville, Tullahoma, Athens and Etowah.

"The massive amount of signatures collected during this short campaign is a testament to consumers' desire to purchase wine where they shop for food," said Steve Smith, president and chief executive officer of K-VA-T Food Stores/Food City, and board chairman of Red White and Food.

In the municipalities where the referendum is approved in November, retail food stores will be able to sell wine beginning July 1, 2016. Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey has said state lawmakers should consider moving the date up.

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