With a little bit of luck New Jersey will change colors on the this map tomorrow. The “gold” color that indicates wine shipments into and out of the Garden State are prohibited by law may change to the “grape” color reflecting approval on direct shipments of wine. The NJ State Assembly is scheduled to vote tomorrow on the bill sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Gloucester County Democrat.

 While most of you will feel little or no impact by passage of this legislation, there are two groups that are keeping both fingers and toes crossed in hopes of approval. The first are the local NJ wineries. Passage of the bill will allow them to ship cases of their wines to customers throughout the country. The other group is folks like me who love wine, seek out wine stores that carry unique wines and have long decried the fact that we were unable to buy some of California’s small production wines that because of the small number of cases made,  never make it to the stores on the East Coast. As an example, if you were in San Francisco on vacation and made a side trip to the Napa Valley to visit and taste at some wineries, you are currently unable to have wines that you may have enjoyed shipped back yo your residence in NJ.

 Opponents of the legislation claim passage will hurt local wine stores. Their argument lacks strength as the states that already allow direct wine shipments have experienced no decrease in wine sales. In reality, it’s the wine distributors (the middlemen) who want their cut of all wines sold. The bill makes sense, will create jobs and will give local New jersey wineries a better shot at competing with the big boys. Come on, Senators, pass this bill!


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