LETTER – Assembly passes Space and Dancer bill bolstering state’s vineyards

A network of attention-grabbing roadside signs enticing tourists with alluring New Jersey wine trails is established by legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Parker Space and Ron Dancer and approved today by the General Assembly. The measure (A3047) promotes the rapidly expanding industry as a tourist destination, creating a Viticulture Trail Sign Program.

“The state’s grape growers and wine makers have put New Jersey on the map as a haven for wine lovers,” said Space (R-Sussex). “Vintners are earning recognition and awards for producing quality wines from grapes grown in the Garden State’s sandy loam soil. The industry has annual revenue of almost $50 million, and highly visible signage will help bring more tourism dollars into the state.”

American Viticultural Areas are federally designated wine grape growing regions. There are 238 AVA’s in the U.S., including three in New Jersey: The Outer Coastal Plain, Warren Hills, and Central Delaware Valley. An application for a Cape May County AVA is pending.

“Our wine regions don’t take a back seat to anybody,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “There are more than 50 licensed wineries concentrated in areas across the state. They produce more than 1.6 million gallons per year of more than 40 wine varieties. The sign program will further strengthen this vital sector of our agricultural economy.”

The bill establishes an art competition for the wine trail signs. The signage program will be created with the cooperation of the transportation and agriculture departments.

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