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By ARep | November 25th, 2013 - 3:19pm
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Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Dave Russo that promotes and advances the state’s wine industry with the creation of the New Jersey Wine Board cleared the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee today.

Assembly bill 4218 replaces the New Jersey Wine Industry Advisory Council with the New Jersey Wine Board for the purpose of fostering the development of the state’s wine industry.

“New Jersey is the perfect place to grow grapes and produce wine, and vintners in our state are winning awards for their production. This legislation helps us spread the word about our top-notch wines and increase New Jersey’s share in the marketplace,” said Russo, R-Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Morris.

New Jersey, ranked 7th among the states in wine production, is home to almost 50 wineries, more than double the total of just 10 years ago. In 2010, Garden State wineries sold more than 1.7 million gallons of wine, and they are expected to generate more than $40 million revenue this year.

“With the tools created by this legislation, our wineries will be ready to compete with producers across the country and around the world,” said Russo. “Strengthening this important industry produces economic growth for new Jersey. Thriving vineyards and wineries mean more jobs for residents, and bring more tourism dollars into the state.”

The bill tasks the New Jersey Wine Board with developing marketing, advertising and other programs designed to promote the orderly growth of the wine industry, and advocating for the production of grapes and wine in the state.

The board would consist of the secretary of agriculture and the director of the Division of Travel and Tourism in the Department of State, or their respective designees, both of whom would serve ex officio and as nonvoting members, and six members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, as follows: one member recommended by the New Jersey Farm Bureau; one member recommended by the Garden State Wine Growers Association; one member who is an agricultural expert with Rutgers; and three members of the public – one each from the three regions in the state – northern, central, and southern. They must hold a plenary winery license or a farm winery license or grow grapes or are a viticulturist.

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Quote of the day

"This is the only Tea Party group that endorsed Mitt Romney. These guys are the Vichy French of the Tea Party movement. They're the guys who say 'Viva la France,' and then you can't find them when the fighting starts. Come on." - GOP strategist Rick Shaftan, on the Independence Hall Tea Party group.

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