Governor signs Dancer, Rooney bill allowing special events at wineries

TRENTON, N.J. – Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday signed bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Ron Dancer and Kevin J. Rooney that allows wineries to hold special events such as weddings, retirement and birthday parties on certain days.

“We haven’t gathered enough information during the current pilot program on how important this program is to the New Jersey farm vineyard and wine industry,” said Dancer (R-Ocean), who noted the industry contributes $323 million to the state’s economy.

“Extending this pilot program for two years will give us more time to understand how well it’s working, what improvements may be needed and, hopefully, make the program permanent,” concluded Dancer.

The 2014 pilot program expired on March 1, 2018. The bill (A2787) extends it for two years retroactive to its expiration date.

“In our nation’s competitive environment, New Jersey ranks the sixth highest state in wine production because we do a good job in promoting agricultural tourism, such as this pilot program,” said Rooney (R-Bergen).  “Wineries hosting jazz festivals, food truck gatherings and seasonal events will give the industry a chance to establish a path for continued growth and a more prominent position among the nation’s wine producers.”

Under the program, special events are permitted at wineries that use their products to promote agricultural tourism. They must be held in an existing building, pavilion or temporary structure, such as an enclosed or open canopy or tent, and account for less than 50 percent of a winery’s gross income. Events must be held on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or federal or state holiday. Weekday events are only permissible with State Agricultural Development Committee approval.