Legislation aiming to help New Jersey’s burgeoning winery industry create jobs and economic development received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor’s desk.  

The bill (A-1046), sponsored by Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, directs the EDA, in consultation with Department of Agriculture, to establish a loan program for certain vineyard and winery capital expenses.

“New Jersey boasts many wonderful wineries that contribute to the economy, and help promote the state’s agricultural industry,” said Assemblyman Houghtaling. “Ensuring their success benefits the state and our agricultural communities.”

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The bill directs the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to establish, in consultation with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA), a loan program and application process for the purpose of providing loans to eligible vineyards or wineries to pay for qualified capital expenses. The term “qualified capital expenses” is defined in the bill to mean expenditures made by an eligible vineyard or winery to improve or purchase land, and to acquire or modernize infrastructure, machinery, and equipment.

The bill also requires the loans provided under this program are to: (1) be no less than $10,000 and no greater than $100,000, for each eligible vineyard or winery; (2) bear an interest rate between three and five percent; and (3) be repayable over a term of up to 10 years, as determined by the EDA and NJDA. However, a vineyard or winery that plans to use funds from the loan to acquire more real property in order to expand its business is eligible for higher loan amounts with lower interest rates, as determined by the EDA and NJDA.

The bill was approved 70-3-0 by the Assembly, and 38-0 by the Senate on Feb. 26.