N.J. wine industry needs balanced legislation | Commentary | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.


Mar 05th
  • Login
  • Create an account
  • Search
  • Local Business Deals

N.J. wine industry needs balanced legislation

cryanJOE080511_optBY JOSEPH CRYAN

It’s unlikely the person enjoying a glass of wine this summer is aware of the controversy swirling around the wine industry in New Jersey, but it’s an important issue for New Jersey’s economy that must be handled correctly.

Wineries and vineyards have become important ambassadors of New Jersey’s agritourism, but their fate has been in limbo since a federal appeals court decision in December, found New Jersey’s laws and regulations for wine producers unconstitutional because instate and out of state wineries don’t abide by the same set of rules. The judge’s ruling was simple: either all vineyards, both instate or outstate, get outlets, or none do.

The Assembly and the Senate have approved separate bills to avoid leaving the future of New Jersey’s wineries to a judge. But the bills differ on the matter of the direct shipment of wine; an area the courts said is not part of the dispute.

I sponsored the Assembly bill that would allow all wineries to sell their wine at physical outlets such as tasting rooms, restaurants and shops, in New Jersey. I feel my legislation balances the needs of New Jersey’s wineries by allowing them to continue to grow and flourish, and also protects the interests of our state and its residents. My approach is the proper one that balances the economic advantages with public safety and addresses Judge Hayden’s concerns.

A different bill would allow direct shipment for out-of-state wineries (remember, an issue that the courts said is not part of the dispute), and would create tax loss to the state and public safety implications for our residents and our children. In addition, in 2002, the Legislature eliminated the direct mail shipment privileges of New Jersey’s in-state wineries on the basis of protecting our children and to collect all possible revenue. The decision, at the behest of New Jersey’s in-state wineries, was the right decision then, and it is the right decision now.

If the loss of revenue and jobs to the state of New Jersey isn’t enough, as well as endangering the safety of our children, the out of state wineries and their lobbyist that are supporting the direct shipment of wine to NJ consumers, are currently suing the state of New Jersey in federal court. They don’t care about New Jersey and our residents; they only care about their greed. Their lawsuit has actually damaged New Jersey’s wineries, the very wineries that I seek to protect in my legislation.

So why is there a piece of legislation that is being mistakenly offered as a solution but it includes the direct shipment of wine? Is it so the out of state wineries and their lobbyist can tap into the New Jersey market, which is the nation’s fifth largest alcoholic beverage marketplace, and take our jobs and tax revenues?

Direct shipment provides a virtual store for teens to buy alcohol they would otherwise be prohibited from buying at liquor stores. It makes the face-to-face purchase transaction practically irrelevant; and makes underage drinking as simple as a mouse click. It also, will have an adverse effect on the appropriate collection of revenues at all levels, excise taxes, corporate, sales tax, as economic studies show “direct shipments tend to have a negative impact on tax revenues.”

I can appreciate the convenience of having wine directly shipped to a person’s home, but it should not be done at the expense of New Jersey’s financial stability and its children. The fact is, in New Jersey, we have a three-tier distribution system in place to protect our great states citizens, children, safety and revenue. This is a system that has worked since 1933, and we should not be bullied by out of state wineries who seek to destroy it. The three-tier system has lead to 60,000 retail jobs in our state and if we were to allow direct shipping, those New Jersey jobs would potentially all but disappear.

Comments (25)
25 Wednesday, 13 November 2013 08:53
medical internet marketing
Located in New Jersey specializes in medical healthcare internet marketing SEO service for medical practitioners and healthcare professional.medical internet marketing
healthcare internet marketing
healthcare SEO
internet marketing for doctorsi
internet marketing companies for doctors
24 Tuesday, 09 August 2011 09:27
Denise Reiser
I don't think direct shipping will hurt the retail wine industry in NJ. I will still go to local stores for my wine shopping but would like to have the option to order wines to be shipped as well. I'd like to support NJ wineries but I don't live near any so it's difficult to purchase their products if they can't be shipped.
23 Monday, 08 August 2011 14:26
Victor Fronzo
I have been buying wine from the New Jersey Wine Growers for 25 years or more. I think we produce some great wines and I enjoy sharing this wine with friends and family. I have alway felt it was more enjoyable to share a local wine with guests rather than the same old same old that comes from the local store. The problem I have is that I do not always have time to drive around the state to the small local winery to buy my wine. When I do travel I tend to "stock up" so I have wine on hand. I would spend more money on wine of all types if it could be shipped to my house, and yes I would continue to use the local store as well. The input we get from the Assemblyman is the same as always, not based on what is real or what the people want, but want the people who give the money want. Business as usual in Trenton.
22 Monday, 08 August 2011 13:33
S F Diamond
We need to protect our wineries in NJ. Mr Cryan can seriously begin to cry if there are no wineries left after they can't sell their own production! If underage children want to drink, they'll find a way. Direct shipping isn't a help or a deterrant to these wonderful non-voting constituants. As for jobs - increased sales from being able to ship to a whole new market could be a boost to employment. The winery sales will go up and they'll need help to produce, sell, package and manage those sales.
21 Sunday, 07 August 2011 19:05
Tim Glenn
In the free enterpise system there should be no restrictions on either in or out of state wineries as long as proper safegurards are maintained.
20 Sunday, 07 August 2011 17:38
Evan Rosenberg
Mr Cryan is obviously in the pocket of the liquor wholesalers lobby. His arguments are worn and imbecilic. It is beneath contempt for him yo argue that out of state wine shipments will increase under age drinking - doesn't he know that liqour stores in NJ can direct ship? Where's the evidence? That is a patent untruth and he knows it but he simply parrots his benefactors at the expense of consumer choice.

Secondly, how does this measure kill jobs? Most residents that order wine direct from wineries cannot get this wine from NJ retailers or wholesalers, so it will have virtually zero impact on NJ business. In fact, I'd bet that if consumers had the ability to buy direct, they'd buy more from the other two distribution channels as they taste more wine.

Mr Cryan, please stop insulting our intelligence
19 Sunday, 07 August 2011 13:53
Karen R
After reading Cryan's commentary, I find my self asking why is he not mentioning anything about the sales that occur at the NJ wineries. Let's not forget where about 90% of the sales of our local wineries comes from. Many consumers go to the NJ wineries and enjoy the unique wines our Garden State produces. After having a tasting at the winery, many consumers purchase some of the countries finest wines at the winery. I think we should take this opportunity to help grow NJ's natural assets. I think we need to create more marketing for our NJ wineries through NJ visitor information and guides to help increase NJ tourism. How wonderful would it be for people to come visit NJ and help increase our sales, which increases our tax income. Let's help promote our NJ wineries and support wine tasting and wine sales at our local wineries. Help support NJ!
18 Saturday, 06 August 2011 12:10
Lawrence L
I disagree with Rep. Cryan's assertion that our three-tier distribution protect our great states citizens, children, safety and revenue. It funnels revenue to a limited monopoly of distributors, limits citizen choices on how to spend *our* money, and does nothing to protect our youth.

I support President Sweeney's legislation, S.2782, which is aimed at allowing citizens to buy from whomever they please and nurture our home state wineries.

If Rep. Cryan believes in our capitalist system of open competition for the best selection and service and elimination of 'protections' for inefficient industries he will withdraw his bill and support Pres. Sweeneys.
17 Saturday, 06 August 2011 10:33
Larry Marro
Mr Cryan certainly knows his way around the hot buttons to elicit sympathy for his uninformed cause: "protecting New Jersey’s wineries, our jobs, our residents, our children and our public safety, or siding with greedy out of state wineries and their lobbyist, who want to come into New Jersey and take our jobs and our tax monies away". Mr Cryan would be better served by fact-checking his statements and the iinformation he offers up as his "expert" opinion. Listen to the citizens of this great state, who are also your voters, and not the wine retailers, Mr. Cryan!
16 Saturday, 06 August 2011 09:36
Chris Hucklebridge
I am offended that Assemblyman Cryan believes that NJ residents would fall for his "save our children" stance on this issue.
Secondly, where would all of the retail jobs go? Is he saying that once we are able to order wine we will no longer go to liquor outlets? I find it hard to believe that all NJ wine drinkers can afford to have all of their wine directly shipped from out of state vineyards. I know I can't, but I would still like to have the option to make an occasional purchase.
Not passing this bill will only hurt NJ and it's wine producers. If our small wineries lose the ability to have tastings, and sell wine by the glass, they might as well just close their doors now. These are small family run businesses that bring in tourism and state tax revenue.
To pass the bill would mean that our own wineries could continue to grow and bring in more money, and we would also benefit from NJ sales tax on wine purchased from out of state. It's a win-win for NJ.
15 Saturday, 06 August 2011 07:23
David Rossi
It is hard not to be cynical with regards to Assemblyman Cryan's motives here because his arguments are so baseless.

Direct shipping would allow NJ sales tax to be charged thus increasing revenue. Also an annual direct shippers license for say $250 per winery would also bring revenue. This will be millions into the state's coffers.

The "protect the poor little children" is always the last argument of someone trying to move opinion only by tugging on heart strings. All emotion and no real substance. Consumers would have to show ID to accept the package. It can't be left at the door and the FedEx drive is a real person who has to see the person signing for it. Just like in a liquor store. Case closed.

This legislation is meant only for wines that aren't widely available in NJ. It won't hurt shops because by the time $9 per bottle shipping is added to each bottle it will be cheaper to buy in the shop(if it is available). Therefore only small production wines without wide distribution will be shipped. As an aside, how many teenagers would like to order $100 per bottle Cabernet delivered to their door and then try to fool the FedEx driver?

Restaurants aren't affected since all liquor they buy must be through distributors.

Unlike other commentors I think distributors are great. They provide a tremendous service and 99% of wine sold in NJ will still move through them even if direct shipping is allowed. In fact the more the wine industry can turn people on to better wines via direct shipping, the more people will stop by their local shop and buy the interesting wines they can find there. Everybody wins. 38 other states agree.
14 Saturday, 06 August 2011 07:17
Evelyn Tisch
2011 NJ Governor Tourism Award Winner for the Garden State Wine Growers Assoc......lets start there and go on to NJ Agriculture! NJ may not be perfect but we a have a lot to offer as a state: Mountains, Lakes, Beaches and Wineries. Think of all the land that has been turned into vineyards and wineries which has saved much land from the destruction of mass builders. Thriving small family businesses have been built on these vineyards, these would be gone if this bill is not passed. Again, the small family wineries, not the large, mass producing locations. There are new wineries waiting to open and cannot yet do this as they are in limbo.

Shipping is not the only issues here. How could you not have tastings at any venues,festivals or wineries? What would the tourists do, stand there, look at you and wonder, how does the wine taste? This is how most wineries survive and this generates money for everyone, owners and NJ as well. This would force the small wineries into bankruptcies leaving these farms/vineyards/wineries useless. Think of all the hard work, years and money it took for these hard working people, so sad.

Can you imagine going to the Finger Lakes, Nappa Valley, Italy and not be able to taste the wines? Is that not the experience? How would you know what you like or don't like. Can you ship to NJ the wine of your choice? No!!!

Now shipping....All steps are in place in NJ for direct shipping already, has been for some time so nothing would change. Drugs and wine are already being shipped in NJ and must be signed for. Under aged drinkers are not buying by direct mail...they want instant gratification and get their preferred drinks somehow and most certainly would not spend a lot of money on shipped wine! It seems that many legislators are not looking at the reports being generated by the other states to show that direct shipping has not negatively impacted the other 38 states. It is unconstitutional for NJ not to be able to have the same rights as the other states. Look at independent reports, not those generated by the Liquor lobby. The liquor lobbyists have much money backing them, much more than the small wineries in NJ. They are too selfish to look at the whole picture and want to suck all the money they can from the small wineries who cannot afford to pay the fees the liquor distributors would be looking for.

We want NJ to thrive especially in this economy and not be stunted. New Jersey cannot afford to lose the income generated by these business and have people leaving this state to live somewhere else.
13 Friday, 05 August 2011 20:48
Laurel Natale
This article is just plain sad and an insult to boot. Please... " to protect our great states citizens, children, safety and revenue." ??? Can we stop with the scare tactics already? You know what protects our children? Education. You know what protects our citizens? The right to choose where we purchase our products. Revenue? Well, you got that part right didn't you Assemblyman Cryan. But who's revenue are we talking about exactly?
12 Friday, 05 August 2011 20:20
Patrick Egan
To say direct shipping will lead to under-age drinking is nonsense. Direct shipped wine needs to be signed for by an adult over the age of 21. Juveniles prefer to drink beer, hard liquor ,or sweet drinks, not wine. The wine be delivered by a competent delivery person who verifys the age of the reciever. Direct shipping of wine will most likely form jobs for more of these higher paid delivery people, while at the same time, it will not cause the loss of low paying jobs to the clerks who work in local liquor stores, because there main job is selling beer. The wine people have delivered is almost always wine that can not be purchased at a local store. We still make local purchases. Please allow direct delivery of wine in New Jersey. It is a win-win situation for the wine buyer and the economy.
11 Friday, 05 August 2011 19:47
John Fallon
Mr. Cryan,
Have you ever looked in the local retail stores for Jersey Wines, New York or Connecticut wines. You won't find any Jersey or Connecticut wines in the North Jersey Stores (which are many) and a token of New York wines. It is almost as if the suppliers have sucessfully blocked those wines "by hook or by crook" There are a great many people who prefer local wines to California and Imported wines. But, I guess the big wholesale/distributors always get their own way. I say the balance should be that if the retailers want all this protection then in exchange for this consideration they should be required to stock, by law, a reasonable percentage of local wines in their stores, specifically New Jersey and also New York and Connecticut wines. Otherwise they are nothing more than a monopoly which needs to be taken down.
10 Friday, 05 August 2011 19:10
Paul Gilmore
This is a specious argument. In fact anybody can receive wine directly from a wine store, but not from a winery. I have no idea why Mr. Cryan would ignore this simple fat. Not too many differences in the number of letters between wine store and winery, but quite a difference in treatment by this proposed law. Mr. Cryan talks about growing the wine industry in NJ. All his proposal does is return things to the previous state - allowing NJ wineries to sell their wines from their tasting rooms, in wine stores (few carry NJ wines) and restaurants (again, few carry NJ wines).

Mr. Cryan is doing nothing to help NJ wineries. And the effect on the three-tier system has been shown to have no effect on those states that have approved direct shipping. Start speaking the truth, Mr. Cryan, and follow it with appropriate legislation.
9 Friday, 05 August 2011 19:05
Mr. Taylor
First and foremost I want to say that the first priority needs to be keeping the NJ wineries open. True job lost would come from shutting down all these small businesses just because a liquor lobby thinks it will line their pockets. That being said...

No evidence exists in any of the 38 states to substantiate the objections raised to direct shipping in the commentary. Why would New Jersey be any different than the 38 states which permit direct shipping, and suffer any job losses or rise in underage drinking?

First, shippers must affix a label on the box which states that the shipment contains wine, and the recipient of the shipment must show proper identification indicating that they are of legal drinking age. And, the shipper is prohibited from leaving the shipment at a residence without someone of legal drinking age to receive it and sign for it. Also, direct shipping to NJ residents from online wine retailers like Wine.com occurs on a daily basis without any problems. Is there any evidence to suggest that underage drinking is increasing in NJ as a result of minors accessing wine via online retail sales to NJ residents?

Further, planned legislation limits direct shipping to only small wineries who produce annually 250,000 gallons of wine a year or less. Most if not all of these wineries in NJ and across the nation are way too small to maintain any wholesale relationships. The simple truth is wholesalers can't afford to represent them because of their small production, and the wineries don't need wholesalers because they are able to either sell their wine at their winery, or through their internet sites and have the wine shipped to customers in 38 states. Additionally, the planned bill places limits on how many cases of wine a consumer may purchase from a single winery each year and have shipped to their homes, no more than 24 cases of wine and each case may not exceed 9 liters.

According to statistics collected from New York State, direct shipping represented less than one percent of total wine sales for the entire state in 2007 and 2008. Has New York State reversed its law due to any job loss? Of course not. And the evidence suggests that direct shipping in New York State has resulted in job INCREASES. No wine wholesaler or retailer has suffered any job losses due to direct shipping, and the over 400 wineries in New York State have experienced an increase in sales of their products, which have allowed the state's wineries to grow AND prosper. The same holds true for the other 37 states which allow for direct shipping.
8 Friday, 05 August 2011 19:03
Susan Molloy
I'll assume this is a well-intentioned argument, but it is failing to see the bigger picture: the jobs and opportunity created by supporting our local wine industry.

Does anyone go to Napa just to take in the sights? In an era when we should be doing anything possible to nurture a budding industry - which NJ wineries are - limiting the ability to market and sell their product is madness.

No one supports the safety of our children more than I, but where are the statistics to prove the data referenced regarding danger posed to them through direct shipping? We have pharmaceuticals shipped to homes which are far more dangerous, is legislation preventing home health care next on the chopping block? White cranberry or sugar plum wine is hardly the biggest threat to our youth in this day and age.

I'd also be interested in seeing facts to back up the claim that limiting direct shipping from our local wineries will hurt jobs. Has Mr. Cryan actually been to a New Jersey winery event? Bought products from local vendors at these fairs, supporting grassroots business initiatives? Shown off our state's unique - and often superior - wine production? On the contrary, shutting down a winery's ability to do business only hurts the economy on the most local, and therefore important, level.

At the risk of sounding conspiratory, one wonders if there's been a deal made with retail distributors. Anyone who's walked into a Canals' knows the NJ wine section is not accouting for their largest margins. These chains will not suffer. Our local industry does.

New Jersey politicians constantly argue they want get out of the way of progress and encourage growth and success. This is the exact opposite.

Perhaps Mr. Cryan should visit the very places he looks to legislate and ask them personally. It sounds as if he has a lot to learn.
7 Friday, 05 August 2011 17:52
In this economic climate we should be doing everything we can to help businesses to grow and succeed. NJ wineries are providing jobs and we should be encouraging them and not legisating against them. It will be a wonderful service to the public if they can have their wine shipped to them or they can go to their local winery to buy. I do not agree that it will endanger the youth of the state, for goodness sake stop acting like a nanny state!!!
6 Friday, 05 August 2011 17:49
Tony C
How many teenagers are trying to get drunk on small production wine?
5 Friday, 05 August 2011 17:42
Bob L
Perhaps Assemblyman Cryan should concern himself with keeping drugs out of the hands of kids instead of wine. It seems apparent that like so many politicians the special interests have bought his loyalty.

While the concern may on the surface seem valid, wine is hardly the choice for underage drinkers and with heroin readily available, that should be his target.
4 Friday, 05 August 2011 17:41
Ron Miller
Direct shipping will not cause underage drinking. If anything it will create new jobs.
3 Friday, 05 August 2011 17:37
Jackie Kostelny
I am well over 21 years old yet because I live in NJ I can't order wine from an out of state winery. Living in NJ stinks.
2 Friday, 05 August 2011 15:07
On behalf of tens of thousands of New Jersey wine consumers who are urging the NJ Legislature to lift the ban on direct shipping from wineries to NJ residences, we must respectfully disagree with the above commentary. Presently, 38 states allow for direct shipping from wineries to residents of their states. Its quite clear that the liquor lobby and its legislative allies are determined never to allow NJ wine consumers the ability to have wine shipped from wineries to their homes, even if NJ is the only state remaining who has not changed its law.

The objections raised to direct shipping by the above commentary were thoroughly discussed in the other 38 states prior to enactment of their legislation to permit direct shipping, and completely rejected. We know the same old false arguments made by the liquor lobby in opposition to direct shipping, first, our state's wine retailers and wholesalers will lose business and have to lay off employees, second, limited direct shipping will destroy the three tier system in the state for alcohol distribution, and third, direct shipping will provide minors with the ability to access alcohol and contribute to a rise in underage alcohol consumption. How ridiculous! No evidence in any of the 38 states exists to substantiate any of the objections raised by the above commentary, and that is why the state legislatures in those states dismissed the liquor lobby's objections. Quite to the contrary, evidence does suggest that direct shipping has been very beneficial to those states, states are now collecting more sales taxes for direct shipping sales to residents, consumers have additional choice when it comes to wine purchases, and wineries are expanding their facilities and increasing their sales throughout the nation.

Since New York State changed its law in 2005, according to statistics collected from New York State taxation officials, direct shipping only represented less than one per cent of total wine sales for the entire state in 2007 and 2008. So, what are the NJ wine retailers and wholesalers complaining about? Does anyone really believe the liquor lobby's claim that they will suffer a loss of business if direct shipping comes to NJ? Especially when you consider Senate President Sweeney's legislation would only allow small wineries to ship in and out of NJ, most if not all of these wines are not sold and will never be sold by NJ wine retailers to consumers. The reason is small wineries are not nearly large enough to be represented by wine wholesalers, their wines are sold either at their wineries, or through their websites and shipped directly to customers in 38 states.

Uncorknj prefers Senate President Sweeney's legislation, S.2782, not only because it would lift the state's ban on direct shipping, but because its provisions regarding preserving retail wine outlets are better for NJ's wine industry. We would urge the NJ Legislature to support Senator Sweeney's bill when it reconvenes this fall.
1 Friday, 05 August 2011 12:37
Tom Cosentino
I have to respectfully disagree with Assemblyman Cryan's concern for the welfare of our children who will be endangered by having wine shipped to their home. As far as I know, FedEx and UPS would require a signature for wine shipped to the home.

Direct shipping exists in 38 other states. A NJ consumer goes to California,visits Sonoma and then cannot have a case of wine shipped to their home. The Garden State Wine Growers Association puts on terrific wine festivals like this weekend's The River Walk Wine Festival at Cooper River Park in Pennsauken. Consumers sample and purchase wine. However, since most of these wineries are too small to sell to wholesalers and distributors, the only place the public can purchase the wine is at their winery. Thus, consumers who may have liked a wine and live far from that given winery, do not have the choice that residents in 38 other states do and must wait to the next festival or the chance they may be in the geographic area where the winery is located in order to purchase the product.

There is an enormous economic benefit from allowing direct shipping. New Jersey is now the 7th largest producing state for wine. Don't you think this growth will increase if the vineyard owners have the chance to grow their market by shipping to NJ homes and to other states? New Jersey wineries are winning awards across the country. The market for NJ wine will increase as more consumers across the country experience the product.

The excuse of endangering our youth is a very weak one and a
diversion from the real reason to prohibit direct shipping-protecting the liquor lobby and the three-tier distribution network from continuing to exist.

Let's give consumers in this state the same rights that those in 38 other states enjoy, the freedom to purchase wine and have it shipped to their home.

Add your comment

Your name:

Follow/join us

Twitter: njnewsroom Linked In Group: 2483509