Winery weighs in on grocery vs. liquor store debate

They have a niche, specializing in fruit wines. Ashley Lynn Winery is a family business that Leroy Hurlbut runs along with his two sons. It's at events like the Farm Show at the State Fairgrounds, where their small business gets exposure and customers can get a taste of what they offer.

"We make about 8,000 gallons of wine a year and we sell most of it ourselves at shows, at farmer's markets and shows like this," Leroy Hurlbut said.

While many liquor stores have already come out against the Governor's proposal to sell wine at the grocery store, Hurlbut also thinks the plan is sour grapes.

"I think it would hurt us," he said. "I think we're too small to deliver to grocery stores and the few liquor stores that we sell to are mom and pop stores and I think it would hurt them really bad. In fact, I think some of them would go out of business".

The proposal to sell wine in grocery stores is included in the State budget as a way to generate revenue for New York which is facing a multi-billion dollar budget gap. Governor Paterson estimates it could bring in $92 million through additional sales tax money. Those against it say it would cut jobs. Still the latest poll shows a majority of New Yorkers support selling wine in supermarkets.

Phil Hurlbutt, who supports the idea, says "I think anytime you can improve and help local business, I'm all for it and I think if you put it in grocery stores it would increase sales and help some of the local grape growers and some of the local farmers and businesses around the area."

"I don't think they should do it, you're going to put the liquor stores out of business. There's no reason to do it, says Greg Seymour, who opposes the plan.

And so the wine war continues, one sip at a time.