The countdown has begun for Tennesseans looking forward to picking up a bottle of wine at a grocery store.
Some area stores are already stocking shelves, while wine enthusiasts are counting the days until the new state law goes into effect.
At Kroger on Lebanon Road in Hermitage, shelves are already full. The state legislature passed a bill that allowed stores to start stocking shelves early, and many took advantage. Signs cover the wine advertising that it will officially be for sale on July 1.
“We are just fast and furious out there getting the rest of the stores ready and prepared,” said Melissa Eads, Spokesperson for Kroger. “It is just so exciting to think we are one month away from being able to sell wine in grocery stores.”
Eads said 72 Kroger stores in Middle and East Tennessee will be selling wine, and about half of those stores are already stocked with wine.
Customers have been stopping by to check out the wine selection.
“Wine has been one of the most requested items for years,” said Eads. “It’s a convenience factor. A lot of people want to be able to pick up wine where they buy their groceries.”
The change is 9 years in the making. In 2014, the state legislature voted to allow wine sales in grocery stores in cities that allow bars and liquor stores, but communities also had to pass local referendums. A total of 78 Tennessee cities passed those referendums.
Throughout the process, some liquor store owners voiced concerns about the change because they felt it would negatively impact their sales. At Donelson Liquor and Wine the owner estimated his sales could drop as much as 30 percent. However, liquor store owners hoped their customers would stay loyal.
Wine sales begin at Kroger stores at 8 a.m. on July 1. Grocery stores will not sell wine on Sundays or on certain holidays like July 4.