Drivers passing through New Jersey could have an easier time identifying nearby wineries under a new law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy.
The Viticulture Trail Sign Program will be an effort to boost the profile of the state’s growing wine industry by constructing more road signs that point motorists to nearby vineyards, many of which are in rural areas.
“Most of our wineries, they’re hidden gems. You have to go and look to find them,” said Tom Cosentino, executive director of the Garden State Wine Growers Association. “But if you can help guide the people into those tasting rooms, they’re going to keep coming back.”
According to Cosentino, there are around 50 wineries in New Jersey, but many of them do not meet the criteria for having a sign constructed on state roads, which includes being open five days per week.
Winery owners said a state-sponsored boost to the Garden State’s wine industry would be a boon for business.
“If there was a sign up that said Working Dog Winery, 2.3 miles with a little arrow, it would just open up a whole new avenue of customers for us,” said Mark Carduner, one of the owners of the Robbinsville-based winery.
Working Dog, in Mercer County, sits just steps from the New Jersey Turnpike but more than three miles away from the nearest Turnpike exit.
State officials said the details of the new program were still being worked out, but that the overarching goal was to increase the marketing of all New Jersey wineries, regardless of their location.
“Some of them are tucked away in some beautiful and scenic places in New Jersey,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher. “There are others that are on much more traveled roads.”