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Adopts Rules for Jersey Fresh Wine, Premium Peach and Vine-Ripened Tomato
For Immediate Release: December 5, 2005 Contact:

Lynne Richmond

(TRENTON) – When New Jersey residents hear the phrase “Jersey Fresh,” they might think of the state’s locally grown fruits and vegetables. Now, the Department of Agriculture has expanded the Jersey Fresh program to also include wines made with fruit produced in the Garden State.

A rule adopted by the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture this fall set new standards for peaches, tomatoes, and wine products made from New Jersey grown grapes and fruit.

“Everyone knows that if they buy Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables, they have met our quality standards,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus. “Garden State wine growers now have the same opportunity to put the Jersey Fresh quality guarantee on bottles of wine, assuring the public that the ingredients were grown right here in New Jersey using the highest standards.”

The voluntary Jersey Fresh standards would apply to wine products which score at least a 13 out of 20 in the Quality Wine Alliance program (QWA). The New Jersey QWA program was started in 1999 and is based on a 20-point wine evaluation scale that was developed at the University of California-Davis. This evaluation scale gives points for appearance, color, aroma and bouquet, acesence, total acid, sugar, body, flavor, astringency and general quality. Wines that meet or exceed the rigorous review process are awarded the QWA designation.

The rule expanding Jersey Fresh also includes a new premium grade peach and vine-ripened tomato requirements.

“Jersey Fresh is much more than a branding program,” said Secretary Kuperus. “Expansion of the nationally respected quality assurance and grading program assures vine-ripened labeling is true and puts a freshness guarantee on peaches.”

Under the rule, each pallet of peaches shipped under the “Premium Jersey Fresh Grade” label must be packed and shipped within seven days of picking, meet the “US Fancy” grade standards, and undergo a third-party audit that ensures product traceability, good handling and good agricultural practices.

“No other state has a freshness guarantee for its peaches,” said Secretary Kuperus. “The new grading system is designed to give New Jersey growers a competitive advantage. They will be able to command a premium price for a premium product and ensure consumers will have a quality taste experience.”

The vine-ripened rule ensures that any New Jersey tomato being advertised as vine-ripened will, indeed, be the freshest, best tasting experience for the consumer. New Jersey and California are the only states to require that tomatoes advertised as “vine-ripened” must indeed have ripened on the vine.

“Like many of New Jersey’s agricultural products, the allure for customers is a true taste experience that comes from the freshness of our produce,” said Kuperus. “When tomatoes in New Jersey are labeled ‘vine-ripened,’ they can rest assured they are getting what they pay for.”