Catoosa County, Ga., has a Tennessee law to thank as part of the reason Costco Wholesale is looking to build two miles south of the state line.

Under Tennessee law, Costco, called the biggest wine dealer in the United States, cannot sell its cabernet, chardonnay and chablis in the Volunteer State.

The Issaquah, Wash.-based company is said to be completing details with Catoosa County and Fort Oglethorpe on a site off Cloud Springs Road for a warehouse club. The site is a mile and a half down Interstate 75 from the Georgia-Tennessee line.

Although it sells tires, electronics and clothing, Costco is considered a grocery store because it sells food. In Tennessee, grocery stores are not allowed to sell wine. Such sales are allowed in Georgia unless a county overrides the state law. In Catoosa County, grocery stores can sell beer and wine, but not liquor.

A Costco spokeswoman said the company sold $1.1 billion worth of wine in 2009, and wine trade magazines have crowned the warehouse club the biggest dealer of wines in the United States.

The Cloud Springs location allows the store to draw from the Chattanooga market while following Georgia laws, which officials say probably played a role in the decision to put the store and its millions in sales tax revenue south of the border.

"I’m sure it did," said Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga. "They haven’t told us that, but I’m sure it did. Wine is one of their big-ticket items."

Other Georgia officials agreed.

To see the complete article in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press click here:

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