If you're looking to throw a wedding, bar mitzvah or retirement party this summer, you might be able to consider a local winery as your destination of choice.
A bill which Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law Wednesday will extend a two-year program allowing wineries on preserved farmland to host those kinds of special events. Under the law, Assembly Bill 2787, those types of wineries can host special events, provided they use their product to promote agricultural tourism.
Wineries not located on preserved land are not affected by the law, as they are generally restricted by town ordinances, not state law.
“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 Assemblyman Kevin Rooney, R-40th District, one of A2787’s sponsors.
A winery located on a preserved piece of farmland, under the law, can only hold the special events on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, or on a government-stipulated holiday. The owners also have the option to apply for a waiver from the State Agricultural Department Committee to host events during the week.
The events have to be held in an existing building, pavilion or temporary structure such as a tent, and account for no more than 50 percent of winery’s income.
The types of wineries affected were allowed to host special events under a pilot program which began in 2014, but it expired on March 1. A2787 is retroactive to the start of March and lasts two years.
Advocates for A2787 have said that the program will boost the state economy. Another sponsor, Assemblyman Dancer, R-12th District, said the state’s wine industry is worth over $300 million annually.