On March 31, 2014, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a bill which would allow wineries throughout the Commonwealth to sell alcohol on Sunday afternoons. Senate Bill 213 (SB 213), if signed into law by Governor Beshear, will amend KRS 244.290 to authorize cities of all sizes (and counties containing cities of all sizes) to pass an ordinance permitting the sale of alcoholic beverages at wineries on Sunday afternoons.
If the bill becomes law, small farm wineries will be permitted to sell alcohol from 1:00 pm until the prevailing Sunday closing hour in the relevant jurisdiction. Obviously, rural winery operators are ecstatic about the possible change. Indeed, by some estimates, allowing sales of alcohol by the glass on Sunday afternoons can grow a winery’s revenue by almost 30 percent. And under the current law, tales of disappointed wine consumers being turned away on Sunday afternoons have become wide-spread.
The proposed amendment also increases competition in the local winery marketplace. Before the amendment, only counties containing a city of the “first or second class” could allow the sale of wine by the drink on Sunday afternoons. However, by allowing small local governments to authorize Sunday sales, SB 213, if signed into law, will level the playing field for wineries located in rural or small communities that compete with wineries located in larger, more established cities.
The removal of city-size distinctions from the law also makes sense when considering the unique demographics of the Commonwealth. In Kentucky, cities are divided into six classes based upon population size. For example, in order to be classified as “first class,” a city must contain a population of at least 100,000 residents. The Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government is the only “first class” city in Kentucky. “Second class” cities, like Covington, Bowling Green, and the Lexington/Fayette Urban County Government, with populations ranging from 20,000 to 99,999 residents, are equally few and far between. Thus, KRS 244.290, in its current form, hurts rural winery operators. SB 213 will allow for all counties or cities containing a winery to authorize Sunday afternoon sales. This is a fair change which honors Kentucky’s rural heritage.
SB 213 is just another example of the modernization of Kentucky’s statutes governing alcohol. Amendments like SB 213 will also provide the Commonwealth with much needed tax revenue. Thus, as the General Assembly continues to search for additional sources of income to pay for state programs, don’t be surprised if more bills like SB 213 come around.Back to news