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Rolly: State's great deal on wine gets buried in a hurry

Published February 4, 2012 6:46 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Shoppers at the state wine store at 255 S. 300 East in Salt Lake City thought they had died and gone to heaven.

A Spanish wine that normally retails for more than $20 a bottle was on sale at the store for $2.24.

The wine from the Rioja region of Spain, Valdemar Inspiration, had a sticker on the bottle supporting the George W. Bush Library Foundation. One shopper, knowing he had stumbled onto a deal, bought four cases. He told a friend, who hurried to the store for another four cases, but by then, the wine had been removed from the store.

It turns out the wine, which had been sold to the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for $1 a bottle, was never supposed to be on public display at the liquor store. When the shopper asked what happened to the supply, he was told it had been moved to Store 33, a club liquor store from which bars and restaurants buy their liquor.

So he told a friend who owns a restaurant he should take advantage of the sale. When the restaurant owner asked about the special wine, he was told he could buy only six bottles. Several cases were on a pallet with a note that said they had already been sold — to DABC employees.

Interim DABC director Francine Giani said everything that occurred with the wine was legal.

She said it had never been clearanced, meaning it was never part of the DABC's official inventory. Instead, it was offered to the DABC by a distributor because it was part of a surplus from a special event. It was intended to be reserved for Utah special events.

Giani said the wine has the required 86 percent state mark-up, so with tax, the wine the state bought for $1 a bottle is properly being sold for $2.24 a bottle.

The employees, she said, got online and reserved the bottles, just like anyone else could.

It should make George W. Bush very happy.

Fact and fiction • Gov. Gary Herbert has to play to the right-wing tea party crowd as he hopes to win re-election this year and keep his job. I get that. He's being challenged by several right-wing Republicans, including at least two tea party darlings and one who thinks he's Patrick Henry.

But it's too bad the governor has bought into the political faction that would make a great sequel to Rod Serling's classic TV series "The Twilight Zone." This one would be called "The Fact-free Zone."

Herbert, playing to the crowd, said in his State of the State speech recently that he would wrest control of Utah's oil land gas resources from the feds.

"We cannot — and we will not — let the federal government halt responsible energy development in Utah," he boasted.

Wonder if he read the story in Friday's Salt Lake Tribune that quoted a Utah Division of Oil and Gas report that said at the end of 2011, there were more than 10,300 producing oil and gas wells in the state —the highest number ever.

prolly@sltrib.com