Wine is coming to Colorados grocery and convenience stores beginning March 1

Coloradans will be able to begin buying wine at their local grocery and convenience stores early next year.

The bitter battle over the future of wine sales stayed too close to call long after Election Day came and went. But the Associated Press finally called Proposition 125, which garnered 50.58% of the more than 2.4 million ballots cast, paving the way for wine sales at a bevy of new locations statewide beginning March 1.

The measure passed by about 28,000 votes, according to results from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

“Consumer habits are evolving, and it was inevitable that either this election, or one soon thereafter, that Colorado would become the 40th state to have wine in grocery stores, said Rick Reiter, campaign director for Wine in Grocery Stores, in a statement declaring victory last week.

The wine measure was one of three liquor-related questions on the ballot for Colorado voters this month — and the only one to pass. Coloradans soundly defeated a measure that would have allowed liquor stores the ability to open unlimited locations and narrowly rejected a proposition that would have opened the door to third-party alcohol delivery sales.

The nation’s largest grocery chains — such as Kroger and Safeway — spent millions to help get Proposition 125 passed. And the three measures, taken together, became a referendum on big business vs. independent liquor stores.

The coalition of small liquor stores, outspent 46-to-1 on the three ballot questions combined, argued that these votes represented a sea change in their economic viability. Store owners and their campaign celebrated the demise of Propositions 124 and 126 as a “David vs. Goliath” victory for the little guys.

“Colorado really doesn’t want the monopolistic choices of a corporation,” Carolyn Joy, owner of Joy Wine and Spirits near Cheeseman Park, told The Denver Post after Election Day.

Chris Fine, executive director of the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association, pointed to a 32-point swing from polling in September to the final tally, proof that “voters clearly have doubts about whether giant out-of-state corporations would support Colorado’s craft beverage industry like our current independent local liquor stores do.”

The vast majority of Colorado counties voted against the wine measure. But the state’s major population centers, such as Denver, carried the vote over the finish line.

Advocates for Proposition 125 argued that the vote would simply put Colorado in line with most of the country in allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores. The addition of full-strength beer, passed in 2019, proved that consumers want convenience, they argued.

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