California-based liquor company promising $ 400 million investment and nearly 500 new jobs in Chester County scored key victory among lawmakers who were skeptical of granting special favors to the company, critics say, will give the wine giant an unfair advantage.
The South Carolina Senate voted on Thursday 31-6 on legislation that would allow Gallo Winery to open three satellite tasting rooms in high traffic areas of the state and sell up to six bottles of their product to each customer per day. Tasting rooms should also close at 5:30 p.m. so as not to compete with restaurants.
Senators pushed the measure through the chamber on the last day of the crossover, a self-imposed deadline the legislature sets itself to pass legislation through the State House. After a final shallow reading on Friday, the bill is then sent back to State House, a chamber that has traditionally aligned with Governor Henry McMaster – who backs the legislation – and who easily passed legislation to attract big investment to the state.
The proposal has its opponents, who have not been fully persuaded to support the bill even though the number of bottles has been reduced and Gallo has agreed to remove alcohol and beer from its tasting rooms.
Wholesalers, retailers and restaurant and bar advocates have argued that the tasting rooms will lead to undue competition, disrupting the state’s three-tier alcohol system that regulates alcohol distribution and licensing. Likewise, some lawmakers have expressed uncertainty as to why the Legislature would bestow special favors on a company, especially when similar legislation aimed at doing roughly the same for distilleries has failed. was adopted a few years ago.
“I don’t think it puts it in jeopardy,” said Senator Scott Talley, R-Spartanburg, when asked about the state’s regulatory system.
Lawmakers highlighted a provision that Gallo should purchase its own bottles through the state’s three-tier system, rather than introducing them. Talley admitted, however: “It’s new, it’s different.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.