Seven-Bill Package Aimed at Eliminating Bureaucracy, Encouraging Agritourism
Assembly Democrats Adam Taliaferro, Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo and Whip Wilson have introduced legislation to support New Jersey’s wine industry by facilitating operations and promoting tourism in the state’s viticultural regions.
“New Jersey wineries are emerging as major competitors in the industry, and the accompanying sales and tourism advance our local economy,” said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “This bill package will cut through red tape and make it easier for vintners to deliver their products to a broader national and international consumer base.”
“The Garden State ranks among the top ten states nationwide in wine production, and the industry generates more than $35 million in annual sales,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “These bills will enable wineries to pursue new opportunities and yield even greater economic benefits.”
“Some of the finest wineries in the nation are right here in New Jersey, and they are a testament to our well-established status as an agricultural powerhouse,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “New Jersey’s multi-million dollar winemaking industry is a point of pride for our state, and this package of bills will better equip vintners in New Jersey to compete with those from other states and other countries.”
“The award-winning wine produced in New Jersey is a manifestation of this state’s natural beauty,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester). “By allowing vintners greater freedoms in making and marketing their products, this legislation will be a major boon to this industry and to the New Jersey economy overall.”
- A-4364 (Taliaferro/Andrzejczak): The bill would permit New Jersey wineries to produce and sell hard cider.
- A-4365 (Andrzejczak/Taliaferro): The bill would allow two wineries to share equipment and space to produce wine on the same premises by repealing outdated prohibition-era law.
The sponsors note that the bill’s emphasis on reducing startup costs will encourage new businesses to open and create jobs in New Jersey.
- A-4366 (Taliaferro/Andrzejczak): The bill would exempt certain wineries from governmental filing requirements imposed on manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of litter-generating products whose wine sales amount to more than $500,000.
The sponsors note that, as the majority of wineries do not reach this sales threshold, the fee already is inapplicable, thus rendering the filing requirement unnecessary.
- A-4367 (Mazzeo): The bill would establish a seasonal permit for wineries selling their products at farmers markets held on a recurring basis, such as daily, weekly or monthly during a specified period of time in a calendar year.
Currently, the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) only offers one-day permits authorizing the sale of alcoholic beverages. The bill would eliminate bureaucracy by streamlining the permit application and issuance process for recurring participation in a farmers market during a single season.
- A-4368 (Andrzejczak/Taliaferro): The bill would establish the “Viticulture Trail Sign Program” to support increased tourism. The program would provide awareness of, and directional guidance to, New Jersey viticulture through roadway signs.
To improve upon the current generic signage made available via the Department of Transportation’s Tourist Oriented Directional Sign program, the bill also calls for a visual art competition to solicit designs representative of wineries and other viticulture locations for roadway signs.
- A-4369 (Wilson): The bill would eliminate the requirement for wineries to grow and cultivate grapes on three acres of land and would prohibit certain licensees from selling their products at retail. The bill also would allow wineries to be on three acres of noncontiguous land under certain conditions.
Under current law, a person must be engaged in growing and cultivating grapes or fruit used in the production of wine on at least three acres of land on the winery premises in order to obtain a plenary winery license, which also authorizes the holder to sell products at retail to consumers at the winery.
Additionally, the bill would authorize plenary winery license holders to also hold a plenary retail consumption license provided that they: 1) operate an indoor event space on the premises of the winery with a minimum square footage of 3,000 and a maximum square footage of 13,000 and 2) maintain a full-service kitchen used to provide food to customers attending an event held in the space.
- A-4370 (Wilson/Mazzeo): The bill would authorize ABC to issue craft distillery licenses to certain alcoholic beverage manufacturing licensees, such as plenary winery license holders and farm winery license holders, for use on the same licensed premises.
The bills were referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, of which Andrzejczak is chair. The committee plans to schedule hearings to further discuss ways to spur economic growth by supporting New Jersey vintners.