The most important wine region to New Yorkers isn’t Bordeaux, Tuscany or the Mosel. It’s New Jersey, where almost all the fine wine they drink is warehoused before being delivered to local stores and restaurants.
An amendment before the New York Senate would end this practice, and require wines to be stored in-state for 48 hours. Small wholesalers are up in arms, claiming this is an attempt to drive them out of business by the state’s two biggest liquor distributors — Southern Wine & Spirits and Empire Merchants –who already have their storage facilities within state lines.
“It’s two very large companies trying to monopolize the fine wine market by squeezing us out,” says Tina Fischer of Polaner Selections. “It’s bad for our retail and restaurant customers, and bad for consumers. Prices will go up, selections will go down. The only people this is good for are Southern and Empire.”
David Bowler, of David Bolwer Wine, agrees and says Southern has been trying to get this legislation passed for years. “They just want to squash the competition, like any unfettered company with that kind of money. New York is the most unique wine market in the country, because we have smaller wholesalers who provide choices.”
The majority of New York wholesalers store wine in New Jersey for economic reasons, space is cheaper, as well as practical; the warehouses receive imported wines directly from shipping piers and also provide quick deliveries into New York City. “There are no places in New York who do what they do,” says Bowler.
Moving operations would force some companies to close.
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