Prop 125 narrowly passes. Coloradans will be able to buy wine in grocery stores soon

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A non-alcoholic red wine at the L onTuesday, Nov. 15, 2022.

Coloradans will soon be able to go to their local grocery stores for a bottle of wine after voters passed a ballot initiative allowing just that.

Proposition 125, which expands the retail of wine to grocery and convenience stores, passed by a close margin after the remaining ballots were counted on Wednesday. 

Those businesses can begin sales on March 1st. They will also be able to host beer and wine tastings.

According to the Colorado Secretary of State, the initiative passed with 50.6 percent of voters in favor and 49.4 against — out of 2,428,613 ballots cast. That margin is a little more than 1.2 percent. Most of the votes against the measure came from rural counties. The state's most populous areas, such as metro Denver and El Paso County, were in favor of it. 

Wine in Grocery Stores, the measure’s main issue committee, argued that Coloradans wanted more convenience when it came to shopping for alcohol. When the unofficial results were released, Wine in Grocery Stores campaign director Rick Reiter applauded the outcome.

“We’re pleased that Coloradans will soon be able to pick up a bottle of wine when purchasing groceries. Consumer habits are evolving, and it was inevitable that either this election or one soon thereafter, that Colorado would become the 40th state to have wine in grocery stores,” Reiter said.

Opponents said the measure would negatively affect independent, family-owned liquor stores. The Colorado Licensed Beverage Association led that charge. They argued that those stores were already reeling from the expansion of beer sales in 2019 and the COVID pandemic. 

“Some of our members recorded record losses between 30 to 40 percent,” said Chris Fine, executive director of the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association. “And that would’ve had a terrible effect, but then the pandemic happened and that was a lifeline to many liquor stores.”

Prop 125 wasn’t the only alcohol-related measure on the ballot. But, it was the only that stood a chance of passing. Over 62 percent of voters were against Prop 124 that would increase the number of stores a liquor store chain could operate. Prop 126, which would have legalized third-party delivery was narrowly rejected by voters with 51.14 percent voting against it.