UNCORKNJ.COM SAYS NOW IS TIME TO FIGHT NJ LIQUOR LOBBY

For the past two years I’ve been involved in assisting my partners at our sister agency, Capital Public Affairs in building a grassroots campaign to permit the direct shipping of wine in New Jersey. The campaign we’ve created is called http://www.UnCorkNJ.com.

As a result of the legislative action center on UnCorkNJ.com, thousands of letters from New Jersey wine consumers have been sent to state legislators all over New Jersey in support of changing the law to lift the ban on direct shipping. The legislative action center empowers New Jersey residents to quickly and easily contact their elected officials in Trenton and let them know they support consumer choice for wine in the state.

Now, our grassroots wine coalition is fast running out of time if action is not taken to pass legislation to permit direct shipping before July 1 when state legislators recess for the summer.

New Jersey is the seventh-largest wine-producing state and winemaking is the fastest growing segment of state agriculture. However, all of that is in jeopardy because of actions by the liquor lobby and their allies in the Legislature to prevent legislation to be passed that will allow New Jersey’s wine industry to grow by permitting direct shipping. The ongoing battle to permit direct shipping and save winery retail outlets and tasting rooms in New Jersey from closure now rests in the hands of New Jersey wine consumers, tired of retail outlets deciding what wines they can purchase.

UnCorkNJ.com has been a driving force behind the campaign to permit direct shipping. S-2782, sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) and Senator Jim Beach (D-6), and A-3897, sponsored by Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-3) and 16 other members of the Assembly, was introduced in response to a December U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit decision regarding New Jersey’s wine retail outlets, which were declared unconstitutional. S-2782/A-3897 not only restores the retail wine outlets to status quo prior to the court’s decision, but goes further and lifts the ban on direct shipping from small wineries – defined as those whose annual production does not exceed 250,000 gallons. This legislation guarantees the future growth of the New Jersey wine industry.

The state’s liquor lobby continues its opposition to any effort to lift New Jersey’s ban on direct shipping with false claims that a change in state law will lead to revenue and job losses in NJ, and harm the three-tier system of distribution. These allegations could not be further from the truth. No evidence exists in any of the 38 other states that permit direct shipping to support their anti-consumer positions.
On behalf of everyone associated with UnCorkNJ.com, we urge New Jersey residents to take action today and send an email to your state elected representatives. Let them know S-2782/A-3897 is the bill of choice for the NJ wine industry and the state’s wine consumers and that it is vital that this bill be acted upon.

It’s time to say NO to the liquor lobby and urge the New Jersey Legislature to stand up with NJ wine consumers and the wine industry and pass S-2782/A-3897 before July 1 when state legislators recess for the summer.

New Jersey residents deserve consumer choice when it comes to wine. It’s time to say NO to the liquor lobby and urge the New Jersey Legislature to join 38 other states and lift the ban on direct shipping of wine.

This legislation will preserve New Jersey’s retail wine outlets, and allow for direct shipping of wine from small wineries to New Jersey residents. S-2782 will guarantee the future of New Jersey’s wine industry.

Tom Cosentino

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