May 26, 2011
Chairman John A. Girgenti
Senate Law and Public Safety Committee
Committee Room 10, 3rd Floor
State House Annex
125 W State St
Trenton, NJ 08608-1101
Dear Chairman Girgenti and Members of the Committee:
WineAmerica, the National Association of American Wineries, on behalf of our member wineries in New Jersey and across the nation, encourages you to support S2782, a bill that would permit New Jersey and out-of-state wineries to self-distribute their products, operate satellite tasting outlets, and ship wine directly to New Jersey consumers. WineAmerica is the only national winery trade association.
We support this bill because it secures local winery privileges threatened by the recent Third Circuit decision in Freeman v. Corzine, 629 F.3d 146 (3d Cir. 2010). S2782 offers continuing support to the New Jersey wine industry’s progress, growth and prosperity.
New Jersey’s dynamic wine industry is a critical component of the state’s agricultural potential and heritage, and contributes to the preservation of rural landscapes that could otherwise be turned over to developers. In crafting its winery laws, New Jersey has rightly tried to keep these agricultural spaces vital and flourishing. S2782 supports this legitimate local purpose and promotes a traditional agricultural form—winemaking—
that reliably makes family farming more economically feasible. Small, dynamic businesses, like those of our members, that are creating jobs should be provided every opportunity to sell their goods in open markets. Wineries are keeping small farms viable and, through agri-tourism, are building a new model for farm development. The wine industry helps keep the “Garden” in the “Garden State.”
Many New Jersey wineries are unable, or find it difficult, to reach consumers in the state, since smaller brands are not likely to find distribution through traditional three-tier channels. Satellite tasting outlets and self-distribution enable wineries to capture lost sales that often result from consumers’ inability to find their favorite New Jersey wines on local store shelves. Similarly, direct-to-consumer shipping has proven a vital channel for customers to find the wines they want, while still allowing for safe and effective regulation.
In a recent comprehensive report examining direct shipping laws in the states where shipping is allowed, the Maryland Comptroller’s Office, the state agency that regulates alcohol in Maryland, concluded that: (1) state regulation of direct-to-consumer shipping is effective; (2) the safety protocols written into state direct shipping laws prevent deliveries to minors; and (3) recordkeeping and reporting requirements give states the tools for effective tax collection on wine shipments. See Peter Franchot, Comptroller of Maryland, Direct Wine Shipment Report (2010), available at http://www.comp.state.md.us/DWS_Complete.pdf.
WineAmerica fully supports S2782, albeit with measured trepidation for its direct shipping capacity caps. See Family Winemakers of Cal. v. Jenkins, 592 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2010); but see Black Star Farms LLC v. Oliver, 600 F.3d 1225 (9th Cir. 2010). Wineries add both to the character and the strength of New Jersey’s agricultural industry, tourism and family farm development. New Jersey wineries should be afforded the opportunity to operate efficiently and profitably and New Jersey’s citizens should be allowed the benefit of free access to the wines of their choice. We believe that S2782 promotes these aims, and respectfully request that you support this important bill.
Cary M. Greene