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Withering on the vine

Published August 31, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Aug. 23 story "Utah ranked dead last in wine friendly states" should come as no surprise to interested consumers or those in the food and beverage business. After decades of trying to expand access to fine wines, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has dramatically de-emphasized this program under new administrators. I resigned from the agency in February 2012 after being told to reduce the fine wine inventory by nearly two-thirds.

Of particular note was Sen. John Valentine's description of the ranking as "a badge of honor." The Orem Republican, personally responsible for writing Utah's liquor statutes in recent years, reveals both an appalling lack of understanding of the industry he regulates, and an implied intolerance to alternative views. There seems to be no more room for reasonable accommodation. Can anything be done?

Recently, the retail giant Costco spent millions funding a voter initiative that successfully removed the state of Washington from the liquor business. Given Costco's huge retail presence in Utah, even if it just focused on getting the state out of the beer and wine business, the investment would pay off handsomely.

I, for one, would raise a glass to that!

Brett Clifford

Former Utah wine coordinator

Salt Lake City

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