Back in February, I told you that the small wineries in New Jersey are in jeopardy. A federal appeals court ruled last year that New Jersey’s wine laws are unconstitutional, and one of the crazy solutions — one that liquor retailers would love to see — is to shut down the tasting rooms of New Jersey wineries. It would solve the legal problem. It would also kill the flourishing wine business in the state, a business that preserves open land with sustainable farming, brings in tourism revenue, and provides more jobs each year.
Bill S-2782 has been introduced in the N.J. Senate and it offers some hope. This bill favors the wineries and the residents of New Jersey who should have the right to have wine shipped to their homes. According to UnCork NJ, the bill will allow small, out-of-state wineries to operate outlets in New Jersey (taking care of the unconstitutional problem) and also allow direct shipping of wine from small wineries only, which is defined as those wineries that produce 250,000 gallons or less of wine per year.
While this isn’t a perfect solution (I’d certainly like the option of having any wine shipped to my home — not just wines from wineries that produce a certain amount), it’s a step in the right direction. If the bill — which is scheduled for a vote on May 26 in the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee — moves on, it could ensure that New Jersey wineries stay open and continue to thrive.
Its companion Assembly bill, A-3897, does not have a date yet, but without consumer support for S-2782, it may never get a date.
If you’re a resident of New Jersey, please contact your representatives. This link takes you to a pre-written letter that tells your representatives that you want them to support New Jersey wineries and the bill.
If you’re not a resident of New Jersey, this may still concern you. If the bill doesn’t pass, and the liquor lobbies succeed in shutting down New Jersey’s tasting rooms, other states that have similar shipping laws to New Jersey could follow suit.