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Sweeney Bill To Expand And Aid State Wineries Clears Senate

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester/ Cumberland/Salem) that would stimulate the growth of the state’s winery business has passed the full Senate.

The bill, S-3172, would allow direct shipping of wine to New Jersey residents from small wineries only, which is defined as those wineries that produce 250,000 gallons or less of wine per year. Additionally, the bill provides a remedy to a Federal appellate court decision last December which found the retail outlets and tasting rooms operated by New Jersey wineries to be unconstitutional by precluding out-of-state wineries from these same rights in New Jersey. This legislation levels the playing field by allowing small wineries both in-state and out-of-state to operate outlets in New Jersey.

“The wine industry in New Jersey is an up and coming success story that could really drive economic growth here in the state,” said Sweeney. “New Jersey wineries are by and large considered among the best in the country, but consumer access to these wines is still severely limited. This legislation will change all of that.”

New Jersey has gone from just a handful of wineries a dozen years ago to more than 50 today, ranking our state seventh in the nation for total wine production. Many of the state’s wineries are located in rural areas, and do not produce enough wine per year to have relationships with wholesalers. This makes their retail outlets and tasting rooms, as well as a few wine festivals held throughout the year, the only way for wine consumers to purchase their products. New Jersey’s ban on direct shipping has caused the state’s wine industry to be uncompetitive with other wineries, and suffer a significant loss of potential business.

The bill now heads to the Assembly.