Court Ruling Endangers New Jersey Wineries
A ruling by a federal court has placed several New Jersey wineries in danger. In December the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that New Jersey law banning out-of-state to sell directly to consumers and retailers was unconstitutional. The court further ruled that wither out-of-state wineries be given the same rights as in-state organizations, or that the state must ban all wineries from selling directly to consumers.
Many state wineries fear that lower courts will choose the second option, one that threatens their business. Scott Donnini, owner of Auburn Roads near Woodburn, New Jersey, stated that, “If that happens, the wine industry in New Jersey will cease to exist… without the sales in our tasting rooms – 90 percent of our sales come from our tasting rooms – we’d be toast right away.” In response to these fears, the Garden State Wine Growers Association has hired legal counsel to intervene and protect the right of all wineries to sell directly to consumers.
The New Jersey state legislature hope to pass a bill allowing for both in-state and out-of-state wineries to ship directly to consumers, avoiding further court rulings. Assemblyman John Burzichelli stated, “We want to protect those outlets. . . . They’re mom-and-pop businesses. It’s farming, and it’s a great use of the land.”
The New Jersey Liquor Store Alliance, however, opposes direct sales, arguing that it would cost the state desperately need jobs and could endanger liquor store sales in an already bad economy. “There is some common ground we can stand on,” said Liquor Store Alliance President Paul Santelle, “as long as we keep direct shipping off the table.”
New Jersey is currently the seventh largest wine producer in the United States.
Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer