Wine coalition wants NJ to scrap its direct-shipment cap
More than 90% of the wine produced in the United States reportedly can not be shipped straight to New Jerseyans' homes even though it can be delivered to homes in nearly every other state.
Folks who'd like New Jersey to join the majority are pushing for movement on legislation to scrap a current state law that places a production cap on which wineries are able to ship directly to homes.
Such movement, though, looks unlikely. Introduced in 2018, the bipartisan measures have not even been considered by a committee in either house of the Legislature.
"We're really running up against a deadline to get some kind of hearing," said Jeremy Benson, executive director of Free the Grapes, a coalition of consumers and wineries. "The only other state that has a capacity cap like this is Ohio."
In New Jersey, only wineries that produce fewer than 250,000 gallons a year — or about 106,000 cases — can ship direct to consumers.
"State after state has modernized its laws to allow true choice in winery direct-shipping, while New Jersey clings to an arbitrary restriction," Benson said.
The Garden State had banned all wine shipping until 2012, when state law changed to partially allow shipping. The measures awaiting action in Trenton would let wineries that produce more than 250,000 gallons to ship up to 12 cases annually to any person over the age of 21.
In 45 states, according to Free the Grapes, adults can have wine shipped to their homes and workplace from any winery in the country that pays a license fee and agrees to remit taxes to the state.
According to the campaign, many of the wineries banned under New Jersey's cap are actually small, boutique labels owned by larger companies — the state's cap applies to total production of a parent company.
"New Jersey wine lovers are essentially banned from buying directly from wineries that produce well over 90% of the wine that's produced in the United States," Benson said.
Sales and excise taxes under a no-cap system would annually bring in approximately $4 million for the state, according to research released in 2017 by the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.