N.J. laws regulating shipment of wine make no sense, need to be modified

AJ Sabath’s recent commentary in ROI-NJ, “How can N.J. legalize pot before fixing liquor laws?” pointed out an outmoded state law, which bans New Jersey supermarkets from acquiring more than two liquor licenses.

It is just one example of the need to modernize alcoholic beverage rules. Here’s another: The state’s discriminatory law on wine shipping puts more than 90 percent of U.S.-made wines off limits to direct shipping from wineries to New Jersey consumers.

For no logical reason, New Jersey laws say only wineries or wine companies crafting fewer than 106,000 cases a year can ship to the homes or office of New Jersey residents. Those making more wine than that can’t. Of the 44 states allowing direct-shipping from wineries, only New Jersey and Ohio impose a capacity limit.

New Jersey wine enthusiasts should enjoy the same freedom of choice as others around the country. And they aren’t the only ones who would benefit. The state stands to gain millions of dollars a year from sales and excise taxes and license fees from direct shipping to consumers in this lucrative market.

Common sense says every winery — and every consumer — should be treated the same; Trenton shouldn’t be deciding which wines you can have shipped to your door.

Jeremy Benson is executive director of Free the Grapes!, a national grass-roots coalition of wine lovers, wineries and retailers.