Milk. Diapers. Ketchup. Bread. Hamburgers. Cabernet sauvignon?

It may soon be possible to pick up a bottle of chardonnay to go with your brie while perusing the aisles of your favorite grocery store.

But a dispute is simmering over Gov. David Paterson's plan to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores to help offset the state's budget deficit.

Drunken-driving awareness groups, police unions and the Eastern New York Liquor Stores Association oppose the measure. The New York Farm Bureau and the New York Wine Grape Grower's Association support it.

But locally, a winemaker and a liquor store owner said the proposal is a leap toward big-box consumerism that will harm small business and could even limit people's wine selection.

Wine for off-premises consumption is only available in the state's 2,736 licensed wine and liquor stores and at some wineries.

But as part of Paterson's proposed 2009-10 budget, the governor is seeking to open up wine sales to as many as 19,000 new stores, thereby benefitting Albany through increased taxes and associated licensing fees.

The budget would also increase the tax on wine by 8.4 cents a liter. The estimated haul by the state is more than $100 million in revenue for the next fiscal year.

Oneonta liquor-store owner Bill Sprague said it won't work. The idea that New Yorkers will drink more wine if it is made more available is flawed, Sprague said.

"There is only so much you are going to sell per capita," he said.

Another unintended consequence could be a net loss of jobs and revenue for the state, he said.

The measure could lead to as many as 1,000 closed liquor stores and 4,000 lost jobs across the state, while the larger grocery stores would not need to hire workers to cover the increased sales, according to the New York State Liquor Store Association.

Under the quirks of the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, liquor stores may not be franchises or chains. This means most stores are owner-operated, with the licensee only able to have one store on his or her license.

If liquor stores go out of business, the state loses the license fee income for those stores, workers lose jobs and communities lose an owner-operated business, Sprague said.

"We've got to take care of the community," he said.

Sentiments from within New York State's wine industry _ ranked the third in the nation by volume _ are split.

Competing media releases from the New York Farm Bureau and a coalition of groups opposed to the measure each feature winery owners putting their weight behind their side of the issue.

The debate has heated up in recent days as the state Legislature has held joint hearings on Paterson's budget proposal. The Legislature is required to adopt a budget by April 1.

The New York wine industry has grown from 13 wineries in the 1970s to more than 225 today. Meanwhile, the number of liquor stores has remained relatively stagnant for at least a decade, according to the New York Farm Bureau.

The New York Farm Bureau said it believes that without allowing the sale of wine in grocery stores, the state is not living up its potential.

"If wine is offered in grocery stores, suddenly more people are drinking wine, learning about wine and serving more wine in their homes," said Doug Miles, owner of Miles Wine Cellars in Seneca Lake, in the Farm Bureau media release. "Some studies show that as high as 80 percent of grocery store shoppers will never visit a liquor store, but would be comfortable buying wine to complement their weekly grocery list."

More wine sales mean more opportunities for New York wineries to thrive and attract more tourism, thereby boosting the state's economy, according to the Farm Bureau.

But Michael Bordinger, a co-owner of Bear Pond Winery in Milford, said she disagrees with that belief.

"We're a small farm winery," Bordinger said. "We rely on tourism."

Bordinger said if tourists are purchasing wine in a local grocery store as if it were any other item, they may not be tempted to visit Bear Pond Winery. At Bear Pond, like many wineries and some wine and liquor stores, wine tastings are part of the business.

"I highly doubt the grocery store is going to let you do it," she said.

The quality of grocery store wines may also be suspect, as those chains seek to appease their bottom lines, Bordinger said.

"If we are going to start selling it in grocery stores and Wal-Mart, what you are going to get are corporately owned wineries," she said.

Paterson's proposal has also been criticized by police unions and drunken-driving awareness groups.

An umbrella organization known as Law Enforcement Against Drunk Driving was formed to fight the proposal, which they believe will lead to wine being more readily available to those under the legal drinking age.

Despite the opposition, Bordinger said, given the current fiscal climate, the chances are pretty great that grocery store wine sales will be a reality in New York.

Currently, 35 states allow for the sale of wine in grocery stores, including California and Washington, the only states to surpass New York in wine production.

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