Gallo’s proposal to invest $400 million in South Carolina was approved by the House Judiciary Committee this week and will head to the House of Representatives next week, where it will likely be approved. It is not without its share of opponents, however, which include some lawmakers, retailers, wholesalers, restaurant owners, and wineries.
The proposal, which was initially (LINK) announced as a bottling plant and distribution center, has now been expanded by Gallo to include permission to establish several strategically-located remote tasting rooms across the state – something that no other commercial winery in South Carolina is permitted to do. Another point of contention is that visitors to Gallo’s tasting rooms would be able to purchase cases of wine directly, also not allowed for other commercial wineries. Direct sales at the tasting room will also take sales – and ultimately jobs – from their businesses, say local retailers. Gallo says that the investment in their East Coast center of operation will bring 500 jobs in the first phase, with another 1,000 jobs possible.
While there are many opponents to the proposal, there are many who say Gallo’s investment simply highlights the need for legislation change and brings to light the antiquated and pieced-together alcohol laws of South Carolina – a state where alcohol sales are monopolized and regulated by the government, purchasing spirits on Sunday is still forbidden, and liquor cannot be sold in the same retail establishment as beer or wine. Whether Gallo will be given any special concessions will be seen on the House floor in South Carolina next week. kw