TRENTON, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--It’s time for New Jerseyans — not state government — to decide which wines they want shipped to their door from wineries.
Two bipartisan bills (A3867 and S2496) introduced in 2018 would give New Jersey wine enthusiasts the same freedom of choice as in most states. But they’ve yet to come up for a vote or heard in committee while time runs out before the legislative session ends.
In 45 states, adults can have wine shipped direct to their homes or workplace from any US winery that pays a license fee and agrees to remit taxes to the state. In New Jersey and Ohio, only wineries producing under 250,000 gallons a year can ship direct consumers.
The result: More than 90% of wines in the US can’t be shipped from wineries to NJ consumers.
“Prohibition ended 86 years ago, yet an aspect of it lingers in New Jersey for no good reason,” said Jeremy Benson, executive director of the national Free the Grapes! campaign. “State after state has modernized its laws to allow true choice in winery direct-shipping, while New Jersey clings to an arbitrary restriction.”
A state government report in Maryland after that state’s first year allowing direct shipping from wineries to consumers found “minimal to no impact on Maryland wholesalers” and “a measurable positive impact on product availability and consumer choice.”
“There are more than 10,000 wineries in the US producing more than 100,000 brands each year,” said Terri Cofer Beirne, Eastern Counsel of Wine Institute. “There’s no way a wine retailer could possibly stock more than a sliver of all the available wines. We should be looking for ways to increase access, not fence-in consumer wine choices.”
A 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling banned states from discriminating against wineries based on their location. States could either extend to in-state and out-of-state wineries the right to ship direct to consumers or ban the practice for all wineries. Initially, New Jersey responded by banning all shipping. Then, in 2012, state law was changed to partially allow shipping, with the 250,000-gallon capacity cap determining which wines consumers could order from wineries.
Free the Grapes! is a national coalition of wineries and consumers. Visit freethegrapes.org and find Free the Grapes New Jersey on Facebook.