Saturday, February 12, 2011


I have to be as honest as I can possibly be. I am not in favor of WIGs in New York. I am angry that more than 3/4's of the state's stores who do not promote New York wine in any meaningful way. I just spoke recently again on this subject. We need more local storesto pick up the flag of local wine. More and more stores are picking this up, but we need more and faster. It's good for tourism, it's good for taxes and revenues, it's good for he land (better to live near a winery than a mall or another development).

On the other hand, the NY retailers look like Jennifer Anniston (or Angelina Jolie if you prefer) next to their Jersey brethern. I lived in NJ for 14 years (I still own a house there and pay taxes). The local liquor stores carry virtually no quality local wines at all. None. Period. They are awful! I've even asked several local wine retailers if they would order the wine if I bought it by the case, and they said "No." Only Joe Canal's, Wegmans, and Total Wine carry any at all, and their selections are slim as it iss (but give them kudos). And I know. I visited dozens and dozens of stores in my 14 years, always looking for local wine.

So wineries must rely on sales out of their tastingroom, and wine clubs to dedicated customers.

Now the Retailer's Alliance (of New Jersey) is coming down on the state wineries who want to ship direct, within state, to wine club members and the like. They are trying to rescind the winery laws, while also trying to keep California wineries out as well. "Nope," say these thuggish retailers, "If you don't want our hand picked selection, then you can't have any other." More importantly, like the Sopranos, the wholsalers and the wine store owners want a piece of the action on everything sold in the state. It's preposterous. You don't get residuals on products you don't order, stock, or sell. Whatever happened to free trade. Aparently it happens in China, Mexico, and India. But not in New Jersey.

Quite frankly, these 39 New Jersey wineries are getting the proverbial shaft. The law makers in New Jersey are going to kill a vibrant, if small wine industry in the Garden State, if they don;t act quickly.

This is a dangerous piece of law, and it must be countered immediately. If this kind of law succeeds, other states will adopt it (are New York and Virginia next?) it will cripple the entire industry nation wide. Only California, Washington, and Oregon have industries vibrant enough to spend significant amounts of money to defeat special lobbies such as this. This will affect us all.

Here's two good articles on the subject. The essay at the botom is better constructed, but no less angry then mine.

A tidbit from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Wineries in N.J. say court may sour sales
The state lets customers buy directly only from them. An appellate panel has sent foes of the law back to a U.S. judge.
January 30, 2011By Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer

A recent federal court decision could sink two New Jersey battleships.
That would be Battleship Red and Battleship White, boutique wines made by a Salem County winery in honor of the USS New Jersey.
Small winemakers, such as Auburn Road Vineyard & Winery, which makes the Battleship label, feel endangered by a ruling that overturned a state law giving special sales privileges to New Jersey wineries.

In December, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that New Jersey unconstitutionally discriminates against out-of-state wineries by permitting only in-state wineries to sell directly to consumers and retailers.

The appeals court sent the case back to a lower court with two options: Give out-of-state wineries the same right, or prohibit all wineries from selling directly to consumers.
New Jersey's 39 wineries, many of them with roots in the sandy soil of South Jersey, fear the court will make the second choice.

"If that happens, the wine industry in New Jersey will cease to exist," said Scott Donnini, a Philadelphia lawyer-turned-vintner who is one of the owners of Auburn Road, near Woodstown. "Without the sales in our tasting rooms - 90 percent of our sales come from our tasting rooms - we'd be toast right away."

Donnini and the other members of the Garden State Wine Growers Association have hired Sills, Cummis & Gross P.C., a law firm in Newark, N.J., to intervene in the case and argue for allowing sales by all wineries.

That could put them in conflict with liquor retailers, distributors, and the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which want to maintain the state's "three-tier" system of selling wine.

The ruling also could reignite legislative efforts to legalize direct shipping of wine to New Jersey residents.

Currently, in-state and out-of-state wineries cannot ship directly to consumers. The state Senate last year passed a bill that would permit direct shipping, as 37 states do, but the measure has languished in the Assembly.

"This court decision is going to help accelerate the conversation that something has to change," said Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D., Gloucester), sponsor of the Assembly bill (A.B. 1702). "Allowing direct shipping would help answer what the court is talking about."

Burzichelli, who chairs the Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee, where the bill resides, said he hoped to move the measure to a vote soon.




New Jersey wine needs action in Trenton
Monday, 07 February 2011 12:57
Sal Turdo is an electrical contractor up in Bergen County. That's his bring home the money job.
But that's not his passion. Wine is.

Sip some wine with him on an August afternoon on the patio outside at his North Cape May vineyard and you soon find that out. He'll tell you about his boyhood days in Italy and the summers he spent helping his family nurture the grapes and then make the wine.
He packed that intense enthusiasm with him when he came to America but it wasn't' until a decade ago when he bought five acres in Cape May that he was able to once again to indulge his love of wine. Now he, his wife, Sara, and his son, Luca, run a winery that makes some dam good wine.

Sal is one of 34 winemakers in New Jersey.

By and large these are mom-and-pop operations run by people who, like Sal, are passionate about wine. I suppose they all make some money — but not much.

All they want to do is make wine and share it with others. But now that's being threatened.
A federal appeals court gavel is about to crush their dreams and rob them of their passion unless the guys in Trenton act — and soon.

Here's why: New Jersey has a law that prohibits out-of-state wineries from shipping directly to customers. The law, however, does allow local guys to sell bottles at their wineries and to pour tastings. Sort of like farmers selling their crops from roadside farm stands.

But a federal appeals court in Philadelphia says that's a no-no.

It violates the commerce clause of the Constitution, the court says, because it treats in-state and out-of-sate wineries differently.

The fix is simple but then again nothing is simple in Trenton and nothing gets done with any speed. More about that in a minute.

Now I suppose wine snobs are smirking, wondering why anybody would be fighting for New Jersey wines. After all, aren't they syrupy fruit wines that are hard to get down?

Well, no.

There are those out there but there also is some very fine winemaking going on in New Jersey and it's happening from Sussex to Cape May. The wines are wining competitions in places like San Francisco and the Finger Lakes of New York.