wine

Grocery stores must renew their license to sell wine, but the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission says it is working to improve that process.

NASHVILLE — After grocers reported a lengthy and difficult regulatory process in 2015 to achieve their license to sell wine, the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission says it is working to improve the process and effectively regulate the alcoholic beverage industry, according to a news release.

The 2016 passage of the wine in grocery store legislation represented a comprehensive change in alcoholic beverage law. The law significantly altered the paradigm for the sale of alcoholic beverages in the state and the state’s role in regulating the industry.

It has so far allowed approximately 650 grocery stores across the state to sell wine, and more continue to apply for licenses each day, according to the news release.

This spring, the TABC adopted comprehensive rules addressing ambiguities in the WIGS legislation, the release says.

The Tennessee General Assembly passed the agency’s proposed legislation this session.

Signed into law on April 17, the public chapter makes various clarifications to Tennessee alcoholic beverage law in an attempt to improve the day-to-day operations of the agency, the release says.

Also this session, Gov. Bill Haslam’s budget included funding for four new positions for the TABC to meet the demands of overseeing the growing number of new licensees, the release says.

New regulatory officers and the existing special agents completed hundreds of renewal inspections for WIGS licensees and assisted these establishments with the new renewal process, it adds.

Additionally, in the past year, the TABC has posted nearly 75 frequently asked questions on its website, including detailed analysis and illustrative hypotheticals due to the growth of the industry. The TABC also created an email distribution list to provide clarity for this growing industry, which now contains nearly 1,200 subscribers, the release says.

“We’ve made tremendous strides at the TABC due to the hard work and dedication of our staff. We remain committed to going above and beyond what’s expected to provide great customer service on behalf of the state,” Executive Director Clayton Byrd said. “The volume of user-friendly content that we’ve produced coupled with our rule/policy updates, legislation and email distribution list illustrate the initiative we’ve shown to improve the operations of our agency and its relationship with a growing industry.”

With the appointment of a new Chief Law Enforcement Officer, Bond Tubbs, and Director of Risk Management, former Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Mark Reineke, the TABC continues to improve business processes and develop greater efficiencies, according to the release.

“The entire alcohol beverage industry has also experienced the challenges that the wine in grocery stores law created,” said Hank Hildebrand, general counsel to the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of Tennessee. “The industry is grateful that the current staff of the TABC has embraced the challenges that this new law presented and that the staff — from the director on down — have worked to assist the members of the industry comply with the new law and the new regulations. It is our hope that the vigor the TABC has brought to this transformative process will continue.”

For more information regarding the 2017 WIGS renewal process, visit http://tn.gov/assets/entities/abc/attachments/17WIGSRenewal.pdf.

For more information about the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, visit http://tn.gov/abc.

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