Cruz-Perez Bill to Bolster Craft Industry Growth in NJ Clears Committee

Nilsa Cruz Perez

TRENTON – Legislation by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez to create a cidery and meadery license in New Jersey cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.

“Our state is creating some of the best craft beer, wine, and spirits in the country. But currently, we do not have the laws in place that allow people to make mead or cider independently,” said Senator Cruz-Perez. “This bill will remove barriers and give individuals who want to start a business in the craft brew industry the freedom they need to succeed.”

The bill, S-2570 creates a cidery and meadery license which permits the holder to manufacture a maximum of 25,000 barrels of hard cider and 25,000 barrels of mead and to sell these products to wholesalers and retailers in New Jersey and other states.

Currently, mead and hard cider may only be produced under a winery license. With the growth of the craft alcohol industry, interest has arisen for special licensure for facilities that produce only mead, cider, or a combination of both. In order for these products to be produced, a winery license would need to be obtained, even in the absence of wine production. Winery licenses require that production facility is on or adjacent to 3 acres of land designated and used for the production of fruit.

The land requirement under the winery license put an unnecessary financial burden on those seeking to produce mead and cider. Unlike wine which requires acres of grapes for production, mead is a honey based product which does not require land for fruit growth and hard cider, typically an apple based product, does not require the same space for fruit production as much of the fruit used  cannot be produced within the state, the sponsor noted.

The bill was developed by legislators in conjunction with local entrepreneurs interested in specializing in hard ciders and meads.

The bill cleared the committee and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.