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Va. wineries back liquor privatization proposal

Rosalind Helderman

The Virginia Wineries Association on Wednesday endorsed Gov. Bob McDonnell's (R) proposal to privatize the state's liquor industry.

The group is the latest industry, retail and transportation group to back McDonnell's bid to sell the state's wholesale and retail spirits operation. In a statement, the wineries say that privatization would be good for Virginia wine because studies show that more wine is sold in stores where liquor is also sold.

Currently, wine and liquor are generally sold separately in Virginia. Distilled spirits are sold at state-owned ABC stores, while wine and beer are sold at private retailers, including grocery and convenience stores.

The one exception has been wine produced at Virginia vineyards, which get some shelf space at Virginia ABC stores. For that reason, many observers have assumed that Virginia wineries might have concerns about privatization, because it means Virginia wine would no longer get priority billing at liquor stores.

But in a statement, the association says they support using profits from the sale of the system to improve the state's transportation network. And they write that they believe private industry would do a better job of efficiently selling liquor, which would boost wine sales.

According to the association statement:

ABC privatization will be good for the wine industry in Virginia. Because studies show that more wine is sold in stores which sell other alcohol products, privatizing ABC stores will benefit the dozens of vineyards and thousands of employees who work in the wine industry in Virginia. There is no reason why government stores should sell distilled spirits. The private sector is in a better position to more efficiently and effectively sell all types of alcohol products. We also support dedication of one-time revenue to transportation, which will help all businesses in Virginia including tourism and the wine industry.

By Rosalind Helderman  | September 22, 2010; 2:24 PM ET
Categories:  Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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