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Walmart Neighborhood Market grocery stores prepare to start wine sales at 8 a.m., today. Tennessee grocery stores with permits may begin selling wine today for the first time under a new state law broadening where wine and other liquor may be sold.
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Wine went on sale for the first time in Tennessee grocery stores at 8 a.m. today under a new state law.

But shoppers only have two days — today and Saturday — to buy wine at a local grocery. That's because wine sales aren't allowed on Sunday or on holidays, including the Fourth of July. So after 11 p.m. Saturday, shoppers won't be able to buy wine in grocery stories again until Tuesday morning.

Wine is on the shelves inside Chattanooga city limits at Food City, Publix, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Fresh Market, Earth Fare and Whole Foods, all of which had permits approved by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

And bargain wine lovers are in luck. Whole Foods on Chattanooga's North Shore, for example, offers Three Wishes, a store brand that starts at $2.99. Other stores also will offer store brand options.

"We've got everything from $2.99 all the way up," said store team leader Devin Keate. Customers are excited, he said, about the "plethora" of wine at Whole Foods.

Meanwhile, the Vine Wine and Spirits that adjoined Whole Foods closed on June 22 after some eight years in business. Its principal owner, Cathy Pruett, is one of the owners of Pruett's Signal Mountain Market. The Vine's wine buyer John Smith will now work at Pruett's, since it will sell wine.

"We'll have a lot of the same varietals, and we'll have the [Vine's] wine buyer," said Justin Davis, store manager of Pruett's Signal Mountain Market.

But not every supermarket in the Chattanooga area will sell wine.

It's only available at grocery stores in incorporated areas of Hamilton County, such as Chattanooga, East Ridge and Red Bank. The Hamilton County Commission has not approved wine sales for stores in unincorporated parts of the county, which means the Food City stores on Ooltewah-Ringgold Road and in Harrison Bay are not eligible.

Soddy-Daisy's Food City can't sell wine, because a 2014 petition drive to let city voters decide if they wanted wine in grocery stores failed.

"They came up about 33 signatures short of getting on the ballot," said city Finance Director Burt Johnson. "I don't think there was a lot of effort put into it."

Food City is trying to get wine in grocery stores on the ballot again in Soddy-Daisy, Johnson said.

He doesn't think the idea is controversial. Soddy-Daisy voters approved package liquor sales in 2014, and liquor by the drink is legal in restaurants, too.

"As time goes on, things like that get less controversial," Johnson said.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or www.facebook.com/MeetsForBusiness or twitter.com/meetforbusiness or 423-757-6651.

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Don't expect better wine prices from your local grocery store

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