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    Groups Protest Sale of Wine in N.Y. Grocery Stores

    The statewide protest hits Albany.

    A collective of merchants, wine and liquor associations, law enforcement officers and others rallied at the Albany, N.Y., legislature this week to protest the proposed sale of wine in grocery stores.

    The plan, included in Gov. David Paterson's 2009-10 budget, could lead to the closure of 1,000 stores and the loss of 4,000 jobs and cause an increase in underage drinking, the coalition said.

    The New York State Budget Division notes that if the legislation passes, an estimated $105 million in franchise fees would enter the state's crippled bank account.

    But members of the opposition countered that wine would cost less in grocery stores, according to the Binghamton, N.Y., Press & Sun-Bulletin.

    "We feel that if one bottle of wine is sold in a supermarket, that's one bottle that comes from our stores," said Jeff Saunders, president of the state Retail Alliance. "At a time when the unemployment is at the highest rate ever in the history, why would anyone want to do anything to add to those numbers? We don't know."

    About 75 wineries in the state have joined forces against the plan, saying the legislation wouldn't necessarily mean that New York state wines would be sold in many grocery stores, since bigger stores would be able to offer wines from across the United States. Those concerned about underage drinking and drinking and driving also voiced their concerns.

    On the other side, though, the New York Farm Bureau, which has tried to get similar legislation passed for the last 20 years, supports the plan.

    "This is a huge new economic-development opportunity for upstate New York, and we hope that it's successful in going through," bureau spokesman Peter Gregg said.

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