NJ Assembly Majority Leader Disses His Own Wine-Buying Constituents

Vinted on August 15, 2011 binned in commentary, wine shipping

I know that a lot of people like to jokingly poke fun at New Jersey from time to time (c’mon… admit it… they even had a NJ joke in Madagascar 2 and that was a kids flik), but do some people really think that NJ’s citizens are actually that dumb?

Apparently, some of them do – including Joseph Cryan, Assembly majority leader and representative of NJ’s 20th Legislative District. Whoops!

Tom Wark alerted me to this little ditty, an Opinion piece published in the Times of Trenton (that’s in NJ, for all you West Coast people) and written by Cryan, in which he attempts to justify a bill that he sponsored – one that basically doesn’t allow direct wine shipping in NJ. Cryan also goes on to lambast a separate bill that I’m assuming he opposed – one that does allow for direct shipment of wine to NJ consumers.  Here’s an excerpt of Cryan’s OpEd:

“…in New Jersey, we have a three-tier distribution system in place to protect our great state’s citizens, children, safety and revenue. The system has worked since 1933, and we should not be bullied by out-of-state wineries that seek to destroy it. The three-tier system has led to 60,000 retail jobs in our state; if we were to allow direct shipping, those New Jersey jobs could all but disappear.”

Wow.  So, let’s get this straight: according to Cryan, if they allow direct shipping in NJ, then they not only succumb to the “bullying” of out-of-state wineries, but will lose upwards of 60K jobs, will put the state’s children into rehab (supposedly they’re getting smashed on La Tache at, like, $3K/bottle?) and will miss out on an ungodly amount of revenue?

Save the children! Board the windows!! Annie, GET YER GUN!!!…

The trouble I have with all this nonsense is not so much that it’s nonsense, or that Cryan got it all wrong – which he did: direct shipping experience in other states has shown that none of those things are likely to happen (for more on why Cryan’s take is off the mark, see my friend David White’s rebuttal).

No, what irks me is that Cryan apparently thinks that his own constituents are dumber than bag of hammers.  Part of the fun of jokes about NJ is that we now the people who live there are actually smart, and nice, and that the state isn’t a toxic waste dump, etc. (nothing personal, NJ people… it’s just that making fun of NJ is kind of what we do sometimes in NY and PA when we’ve had too many beers… I know, it’s terrible…).


Why do that?  Why even go there? Why treat your own constituents like dim watt bulbs? I mean, if they’re savvy enough to want to order wine from their favorite producers, wines they couldn’t otherwise get in NJ, then aren’t the smart enough to search on the Internet and find information and study results that refute Cryan’s scare-tactic defense?

There is certainly something stupid going on in NJ, but it’s not on the part of their wine consumers – it’s on the part of some of their legislators.  You deserve better, Jersey, and you know what to do if you’re a wine lover: vote ’em out!






  • nick

    not to mention there's wine library and gary's right in-state… both having huge selections, competitive pricing, and large out of state footprints. i'm sure they're really shaking in their boots that you can order your SVC Santa Rita Hills Pinot off the mailing list.

    • 1WineDude

      nick – god forbid we allow real competition to drive fair prices and good service, right? ;-)

  • @terroiristblog

    Joe: Awesome, awesome post. Thanks for the shout-out!

    I've got a longer (and angrier) take-down of Asm. Cryan going up later today. Turns out every single point in his oped is a lie. As one might guess, his largest campaign contributor is NJ's largest liquor distributor. Since 2006, Cryan has collected more than $50k from a single company — which just happens to be leading the charge against direct shipping. Pretty gross.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, David. Gee, let me feign my utter surprise at learning that Cryan has gotten $$ from an anti-direct-shipping company…

  • Albert

    As a NJ resident (not sure how I effect the state IQ level), I find the argument against direct shipping a complete and utter joke. I think Tom Wark has done a brilliant job revealing the flaws of the three tier system and am very pleased that you and others have also used your position to reveal the truths behind this issue. Thanks, Dude!

    • 1WineDude

      Hey Albert – good hearing from you! As a PA state resident, I feel a need to stick together on this sort of issue! :-)

  • Jan

    AMEN JOE! Thanks for this article!! Here you are seeing how ridiculous it is not to ship to NJ consumers but don't forget the other side of it that NJ wineries can't ship out of state or in the state either! So not only are they treating their constituents like dim wits, but they are threatening the GARDEN states biggest potential for agrotourism, wineries! The bill that doesn't allow direct shipping also threatens to close down the tasting rooms. Because of this legislation several wineries that were promised licenses to open are now sitting on thousands of cases of wine that they've poured their life savings into. You tell me what's fair Cryan, the big liquor stores losing a sale or two to people that are collectors and buy their wines online or the wineries that were promised licenses going bankrupt?

    • 1WineDude

      Jan – if that's true then it's a terrible state of affairs. Control states, and/or those with legislators who are in the back pocket of those who support the current unfair systems of alcohol distribution, seem to be quick to apply a one-size-fits-all solution (i.e., if we can't allow in-state wineries to ship if out-of-state don't, then screw the in-state ones too) that cripples the budding wine businesses in their own backyard. Hardly seems a balanced or noble cause, does it?

  • Tina

    It's infuriating and makes me so proud to live in NYC (which, by the way, has it's own silly liquor laws). I wish there was a straight forward way to fight this law. I think we're dealing with a product that is still taboo any many parts of the country, and that's why some of these laws still exist. This country has a long way to go in this regard. *sigh*

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Tina – It is sad that it is a taboo subject in some places. But then, so is evolution, and that is a far sadder state of affairs. *Sigh* is right!

  • doug wilder

    I'm surprised this post wasn't called "A Cryan Sham(e)"…

    • 1WineDude

      Doug – now, see, I wasn't gonna go there… but now…

      "Quit Your Cryin', Cryan!"

      "Cryan Over Shipped Wine"

      "Someone is Cryan Sour Grapes!"



      • @terroiristblog

        A Cryan Sham(e) is fantastic – wish I had thought of that one!

        • 1WineDude

          No use Cryan over that one, David…

  • carinne

    ugh. At the NJ wine festival this year there were petitions to allow shipments, which got tabled for discussion. So frustrating.

    • 1WineDude

      Carinne – you mean the petitions got tabled? Or the petitions got signed but the topic wasn't taken up by the legislature?


    Why the silence on what's going on in your home state?

    • 1WineDude

      PA – I've hardly been silent about that, as I think you know, having commented yourself on several of those posts! :) If you mean that I've been silent about the latest happenings in PA, it's only been here that I've been relatively quiet – on fb and twitter I've been linking / commenting on that stuff as recently as this week.


        With an actual bill being introduced, hearings taking place, etc… we need all the publicity possible to turn privatization into a populist movement. With your vague announcement on someone else's blog that you were taking up some type of advisory role, I feared (fear) that you'd gone over to the dark side.

        Frankly, it's not just you. The blogs have been much too quiet about this issue, which is shocking considering how such a high percentage of blog posts seem to involve the issue of government control of shipping, three tier systems, etc…

        • 1WineDude

          Point taken, PA. Will see what I can do for next week. It's worth noting here that Lew Bryson is doing a great job covering the PLCB stuff, and so I don't want to just be the guy who re-reports what Lew is doing well already at http://noplcb.blogspot.com/

          BUT… maybe it's worth highlighting Lew's blog again here in a proper post.


  • Aussie wine chick

    Sherbet Joe, it's a serious topic but the post is KAK funny (as we say in sunny South Africa). Well done on entertaining me to such an extent that I felt compelled to follow the sentiment all the way through – and in so doing, you have accrued another supporter for the Cryan' Out Loud campaign (is there no way to shut him up??)

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks for that, Aussie! :)

  • @mariepayton

    The 3 tier system makes me CRAZY!!!! As a resident of post-Puritanical Massachusetts, I've had to engage friend's parents to sneak my wine from Connecticut over the border. Is buying wine direct such a crime? Guess I'll be sitting on the steps of the State House with my "Hell no we won't go" bottle of wine soon…

    • 1WineDude

      @mariepayton – HA! As a PA resident, I feel your pain. Deeply.

      We need to keep fighting, vote out the people who are in the back pockets of distributors, unions, whatever, and vote in the people who will commit to changing in favor of an open market.


  • John

    Hey Joe – just catching up and saw your post on this subject. The way I look at this situation is very simple: if direct shipping is allowed, the three-tier system in NJ will survive just fine; if direct shipping is not allowed, and Jersey follows the court ruling, many wineries may not survive. I can't see how the state legislature would essentially kill a growing industry…but stranger things have happened.

    And as far as the Jersey bashing…1) we're used to it, and 2) we know better. ;)

    • 1WineDude

      Hey John – Agreed! Well, except for the NJ-bashing! :)

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