Understanding New Jersey's Laws and Regulations on Wine Labeling

Drop shipping of wines from New Jersey is only allowed by wineries that produce no more than 250,000 gallons a year and have a valid warehouse license from another state. The state laws governing alcoholic beverages in New Jersey are among the most complex in the United States, with many peculiarities not found in the laws of other states. They provide for 29 different alcoholic beverage licenses granted to manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers and for the public storage and transport of alcoholic beverages. The general authority for the legal and regulatory control of alcoholic beverages lies with the state government, in particular with the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control overseen by the state Attorney General.

According to the autonomous government, New Jersey law gives individual municipalities substantial discretion to pass ordinances that regulate the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages within their limits. The number of retail licenses available is determined by the population of the municipality and may be further limited by the city's governing body. As a result, the availability of alcohol and the regulations that govern it vary significantly from city to city. A small percentage of the state's municipalities are dry towns that don't allow the sale of alcoholic beverages and don't issue retail licenses for bars or restaurants to serve alcohol to customers. Other cities allow the sale of alcohol 24 hours a day.

Retail licenses are often difficult to obtain and, when available, are subject to exorbitant prices and fervent competition. In addition to giving local governments extensive freedom over the sale of alcoholic beverages, New Jersey law has other unusual features. Companies are limited to two retail distribution licenses, making it impractical for chain stores to sell alcoholic beverages; this restriction, along with municipal ordinances, severely limits the sale of beer by supermarket and convenience store chains, as they do in many other states. State law treats drunk driving as a traffic violation and not as a crime, and allows individual municipalities to define the scope of laws on underage drinking. New Jersey laws and regulations regarding alcohol are overseen by the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) of the Department of Law and Public Safety, which is managed by the state Attorney General.

The current director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control division is Dave Rible. State and local laws, including those regulating alcoholic beverages, apply to all territorial waters, including inland rivers, lakes and bays, and tidal waters up to three nautical miles off the New Jersey coast. Starting in 1738, cities in New Jersey began to issue alcoholic beverage licenses to taverns. Before federal prohibition in 1919, despite many state laws on alcoholic beverages, the regulation of alcoholic beverages in New Jersey was almost exclusively local, with wide variations between municipalities. In 1933, after the repeal of Prohibition, states were again allowed to regulate alcoholic beverages. Immediately after the end of Prohibition in 1933, New Jersey instituted the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, which established and granted regulatory powers to the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The law also established a three-tier alcohol distribution system by which, with minor exceptions, alcohol manufacturers can only sell to wholesalers, who can only sell to retailers, who can only sell to customers. The state did not allow producers in other states to ship to residents of New Jersey, nor did it allow warehouses in New Jersey to ship to customers in other states. A poorly grown wine, with many additives and low alcohol content, for example, might seem better (i.e., less caloric) than a well-made, sustainably grown wine with a normal amount of alcohol. Wine produced on the premises of an instructed winemaking facility will be used, consumed or discarded at the facility's facilities or distributed from the facility's facilities to a person who has been directly involved in the winemaking process for their personal or domestic use or consumption. In 1959, the New Jersey Supreme Court allowed a lawsuit to be filed against several taverns that had served alcohol to an underage person who then caused a fatal car accident. The holder of this license may sell commercial items traditionally associated with winemaking and novel garments identified by the name of the establishment licensed by virtue of the provisions of this section. In addition, this nutritional labeling opens up potential false claims about low-calorie wine or sugar content by brands that market an inferior product to consumers concerned about their health.

As a reference point, a box of wine must not exceed nine liters in size and all invoices and records related to these purchases must be kept for at least three years. In addition during its first five years of operation a winery must make its wines or fermented fruit juices with at least 51% grapes or fruits grown in New Jersey; subsequently they must be made with grapes or fruits grown in this state at least as much as required for labeling as “New Jersey wine” under applicable federal laws and regulations. A bottle of Fanta must include nutritional information including recommended serving size as well as a full list of ingredients; however a bottle of Lambrusco meets regulatory requirements simply by stating its percentage of alcohol by volume - even this requirement is not as strict as many consumers might assume. If a wine contains sulfites (a common but sometimes controversial preserving agent) at 10 parts per million or more then FD&C Yellow No 5 must be included on its label.

New Jersey's alcohol laws and regulations are codified in Title 33 of the New Jersey Statutes and Title 13 Chapter 2 of the New Jersey Administrative Code respectively. Like Plenary Wineries Farm Wineries can ship up to 12 cases per year anywhere within or outside New Jersey provided they are sent only to people over 21 years old.