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We can sell no wine – businesses opine

If your summer vacation includes sipping your favorite glass of merlot at a local New Jersey bed and breakfast with an onsite winery, you better put a cork in your plans.

Wineries across the state of New Jersey continue to hold onto their inventory in hopes that the government will pass a new law putting an end to the current litigation between the state and a California winery along with two couples from New Jersey. A favorable ruling and the necessary legislative changes would allow them to sell their products to consumers locally and online.

Unfortunately, business owners will have to continue to wait awhile longer since the state Legislature failed to approve a bill last week that would provide a resolution.

In December, the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled that wineries in the state of New Jersey as well as those located out-of-state should be permitted to distribute and sell their product just like other restaurants and tasting rooms.

A legislative stalemate like this one means that the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) must continue to withhold issuing wine permits to wineries. The ABC is a party to a lawsuit that challenges the current regulations.

Many winemaking entrepreneurs who have invested their last dollar into their dream business are sitting idle on their inventory while they await amendments to the existing laws.

The court could opt for an all or none ruling. Winery owners are hoping that the court gives the green light to wineries across the nation to be able distribute and sell wine throughout New Jersey. If the court prohibits the distribution and sales within the state, many small wineries will be forced to work with wholesalers thus preventing them from making a profit.

Source: pressofAlanticCity.com, “N.J.’s wineries-in-waiting hope the state will rewrite its rules so they can sell,” Lee Procida, 01 July 2011

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