It was after 11 p.m. last Monday when the news started trickling in on Facebook and Twitter that the New Jersey State Assembly had passed A-4436, their version of a direct wine shipping bill. The bill with an addendum was shot back to the Senate and quickly approved. A little after 11:30 p.m., Sharrott Winery tweeted “The winery bill has passed!!! Just needs the governor's signature and he has said he will sign.”
What does this mean for the state’s wineries? It means they will stay in business. Their tasting rooms were in jeopardy because a federal court ruling. If the tasting rooms closed, the majority of the wineries would not have been able to sell enough wine to stay open.
It also means that U.S. wineries (in-state and out-of-state) will be able to ship directly to residences. Out-of-state visitors that find wines that they like from N.J. will be able to order them online and have them shipped directly. This will open up a new market for N.J. wineries.
New Jersey’s wine industry has grown in leaps and bounds over the past decade. There are several start up wineries, some of them sitting on bottled wine, that have been unable to get licenses while everything has been in limbo. Those start ups will be able to start doing business soon, and I believe this shipping bill will bring more wine makers to our state looking to open up wineries.
Keeping New Jersey’s wine industry thriving will also help the state. It will preserve farmland, something N.J. needs to be taking very seriously. Agritourism revenue will increase as the wine trails become more established and visitors come to the state for a weekend of traveling from winery to winery.
For N.J. wine consumers, it gives us freedom of choice, especially when it comes to New Jersey wines. Very few of our liquor stores carry a decent selection of in-state wines, and it’s not always convenient to go to the winery to purchase wine. Interestingly, according to Fermentation blog, consumers’ interests were not considered in the passing of the bill. I’ll be interested in finding out from some of the winery owners if they feel that is accurate.
I hope that Governor Christie will sign the bill (he has 10 days to do so or the bill will die). If he does, this should be the last piece I have to write about the shipping bill in New Jersey.