Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New Jerseyans raise a glass to unfettered wine purchases

We're all shopping online theses days--for books, clothing, computers, music--you name it. But until today, New Jersey wine lovers were prohibited from ordering from vineyards in California, New York or any other state. 

And New Jersey wine growers faced a similar blockade--no direct shipments were permitted to customers inside the state or to potential customers outside state borders.

All that changes today as a new law becomes effective that loosens restrictions on wine sales. Now, New Jersey winemakers can ship bottles directly to consumers and out-of-state wineries that produce less than 250,000 gallons of wine a year can start shipping to New Jersey, too.

In today's Atlantic City Press, Lee Procida reports:
Local wineries received orders before the law became effective May 1, and growers said they would start shipping this week.

“We’re excited that it’s finally happened after such a long period,” said Charlie Tomasello, co-owner of Tomasello Winery in Hammonton, the state’s largest winery.

The changes were spurred by a lawsuit filed nine years ago that resulted in a federal court striking down the state's regulations as unconstitutional.

The state previously banned New Jersey wineries from shipping directly to consumers. In-state wineries were allowed to open retail outlets, but out-of-state wineries were not allowed. The court found that the bans restricted interstate commerce.
After years of legislative wrangling, the Legislature approved a law to mostly resolve the issue in January and Gov. Chris Christie signed it.

New Jersey's 40+  vineyards are one of the fastest growing segments of the state's agricultural community. Many of them feared they would be forced to sell their farms
had the legislation failed.

Now they can get back to focusing on growing the grapes and bottling the wines
that have propelled the Garden State into the No. 6 spot in national wine production.

We think this is great. How about you? Tell us what your first online wine purchase (from a New Jersey or other vineyard) is likely to be. Or suggest a vineyard to visit
for a tasting. Use the comment box below. If  not visible, activate it by clicking on
the tiny 'comments' line


New Jersey wineries start taking orders, getting shipments ready today
Star-Ledger editorial supporting passage of wine-shipment legislation

Map of New Jersey wineries (Garden State Winegrowers Association)

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