Wine in state grocery stores won’t happen this year | Journal Inquirer

March 23, 2023

Article as published in the Journal Inquirer:


Efforts to bring wine to the shelves of Connecticut’s grocery stores failed to advance out of the General Assembly’s General Law Committee this week, marking yet another year in which proposals to allow the sales fell by the wayside.


Supermarkets across the state made a significant push this year to try to legalize the sale of wine in grocery stores. Ultimately, the state’s 1,250 package stores won out, persuading lawmakers that wine and spirits should be sold exclusively in their stores. Reasons have varied from jobs to price to support for small businesses.


The legislature’s subcommittee failed to vote on the bill Tuesday, the last day for the committee during the current session that bills could advance to the next step in the legislative process. Sen. Paul Cicarella, R-North Haven, said that not voting on advancing the bill was the right decision.


“The legislation, as written, was presented to us as a way to help small vineyards,” said Cicarella, who is a ranking member of the committee. “But the way it was presented, it was going to hurt Connecticut package stores and their employees I don’t think it would have been beneficial to small businesses that are handcuffed by some existing Connecticut laws.”

Wayne Pesce, president of the Connecticut Food Association, said the committee’s failure to take action on the legislation didn’t come as a surprise.


“While the votes aren’t there in this particular legislative committee at this time, we believe that in the future, when the issue comes to a vote of the full legislature, this consumer-friendly bill will pass,” Pesce said. “An overwhelming majority of the public supports the sale of wine in supermarkets.”


Cicarella said small Connecticut wineries would not benefit from supermarkets being able to sell wine because shelf space is so scarce.


“Because of the value of shelf space to supermarkets, they will only sell a limited amount of brands,” he said.