TRENTON – The Legislature approved a bill that would allow New Jersey wineries to ship their products directly to consumers. The Assembly voted 51-18-4 in favor Monday; the Senate approved it 24-9.
The bill (A-4436) revises the statutes governing the sale and distribution of products by New Jersey wineries and creates a new out-of-state winery license governing New Jersey sales by wineries licensed elsewhere.
“This bill is good news for consumers and businesses alike,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), a sponsor of the bill. “It’s a carefully crafted plan that ensures our wine industry can become a key economic engine for our state while protecting the local liquor stores and the many jobs they provide our state. It’s a long overdue plan to modernize our laws to meet the reality of how consumers now shop.”
Under the bill, plenary wineries that produce a maximum of 250,000 gallons per year and farm wineries would be permitted to directly sell their products to licensed retailers once they pay a permit fee. The maximum production of 250,000 gallons per year is based on the Internal Revenue Code’s definition of a small producer of wine.
Plenary wineries would pay a graduated fee ranging from $100 to $1,000 based on the winery’s annual production. Farm wineries would pay a fee of $100.
All plenary and farm wineries would continue to be able to sell their products to licensed wholesalers.
The bill permits plenary wineries that produce a maximum of 250,000 gallons per year and farm wineries to sell products at retail at 18 sales rooms but eliminates the provision in current law that permits them to open joint sales rooms with other plenary wineries or farm wineries.
Additionally, the bill permits plenary wineries that produce a maximum of 250,000 gallons per year and farm wineries to directly ship up to 12 cases of wine to any person over age 21 in New Jersey or any other state for personal consumption and not for resale. A case of wine may not exceed nine liters. The winery is required to retain the original invoices for any wine shipped for at least three years on the winery premises for inspection by the state.
The bill also creates an out-of-state winery license which may be issued to wineries licensed in other states that produce a maximum of 250,000 gallons of wine per year. The licensee would be permitted to sell his or her products to wholesalers and retailers and at retail in 19 salesrooms apart from the winery premises, for consumption on or off the premises, at a fee of $250 for each salesroom.
The license holder also is permitted to ship up to 12 cases of wine per year to any person in this state over age 21 for personal consumption and not for resale. A case of wine may not exceed nine liters.
The bill sets the annual fee for the out-of-state winery license at $938, which is the same fee paid by plenary and farm wineries. The bill provides for the collection of all applicable taxes for sales made by the holders of out-of-state winery licenses.