TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Senator Vin Gopal that would provide financial assistance to wineries and vineyards in New Jersey in order for them to expand operations and spur economic development was approved by the Senate today.
“The bill will allow us to promote further economic growth to areas of our state that are developing viticulture,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Demand for wine is increasing, so we need to assist wineries and vineyards to keep up with that high demand and help these businesses flourish. Expanding the operations and establishing new businesses in a growing part of our economy would be a step in the right direction.”
The bill, S-1083, establishes a loan program and provides corporation business tax and gross income tax credits for the establishment of new vineyards and wineries. The bill acts as a form of economic development for counties with a strong viticulture presence. Those counties include: Monmouth, Atlantic, Ocean, Cape May and Cumberland. The establishment of new wineries and vineyards would be a compliment to the tourism of the New Jersey shore, allowing for the two to complement each other.
“The wine industry in New Jersey has the opportunity to become well-known around the country,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “Not only will this help to spur economic development in these counties, it will also allow us to increase tourism to the Jersey Shore as well. The Jersey Shore is arguably one of New Jersey’s most striking features, and tourists will want to come to our state to enjoy both.”
The bill would develop a 10-year pilot program to provide low interest loans to farmers for qualified costs associated with the installation of new vineyards. Qualified costs would include expenses toward preparing land for plant installation, purchasing vines or trees, and procuring equipment and supplies for those purposes.
In addition to the pilot program, a taxpayer would be allowed a tax credit in an amount equal to 25 percent of the qualified capital expenses incurred by the taxpayer in connection with the establishment of a new vineyard or winery in an eligible county or with capital improvements made to an existing vineyard or winery in an eligible county.
New Jersey has been expanding its production of wine-making for the past few decades. According to the state Department of Agriculture, more than 40 varieties of grapes are grown in New Jersey. New Jersey is the seventh largest wine producing state in the country, with 1.5 million gallons of wine produced annually. There are more than 45 licensed wineries in New Jersey.
The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 37-0, and will next heads to the Assembly for further consideration.