Player allowed to sign wine bottles

Former Masters champion Gary Player will be at Vineyard Wine Market on Saturday to sign bottles of his Muirfield 1959 label.

It took the intervention of a state representative, but former Masters champion Gary Player will be allowed to sign bottles of wine at an Evans wine store Saturday.


The event, scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m., was nearly canceled after state revenue agents said it would have violated regulations.

Vineyard Wine Market owner Roger Strohl said Wednesday that he was given clearance by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division of the Georgia Department of Revenue to go ahead with the event.

Player, who owns a vineyard, will sign bottles of his Muirfield 1959 label at the store -- located in Suite 2 at 4414 Evans to Locks Road.

Strohl said an agent with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division's regional office in Martinez contacted him last week and cited four regulations that might prevent Player's autograph session: manufacturers can't have direct contact with retailers, all of the state's alcohol sellers should have been extended the same offer by Player, the event would encourage public consumption of alcohol and Strohl should have been charged a fee by Player to sign autographs at the store.

"This is crazy," Strohl said. "If you had 10 (accountants) out there to do your taxes, there would be 10 different ways to do them. I think there's also 10 different ways to read these laws."

On Monday, revenue department Tax Policy Analyst Reg Lansberry gave his own interpretation, saying the only regulatory violation he could see might involve Player's legal authorization to contact Strohl for Saturday's event.

According to the regulation cited by Lansberry, representatives of manufacturers must be authorized by the state to contact retailers to conduct business. To be a representative, a person must complete and file -- under oath -- an application for a $10 permit from the state tax commissioner.

State Rep. Ben Harbin said he was contacted by Strohl on Friday and intervened on his behalf with the revenue department.

Harbin called it an oversight that wasn't "a big deal."

"The department was right in that he didn't have everything he needed, but it's such a gray area," Harbin said. "It should all work out fine, and I hope that Saturday's event is a great event."

Strohl said state revenue agents worked with him to complete the paperwork in time.