Johnson Bros. Expands into New Jersey

Dear Client:

Minnesota-based wholesaler Johnson Brothers has been busy expanding its territory over the last few years. Today, the wholesaler announced it has expanded into New Jersey, bringing its total footprint to 27 states.

The New Jersey operation will be managed by current Johnson Bros. New York gm Eddy Rivera. “Johnson Brothers is thrilled to open our doors in New Jersey. After our successful 2016 launch in New York, it’s clear that the New York/ New Jersey area welcomes and embraces more choices at the distributor level,” says Eddy.

“The wine, beer, and spirits industry is constantly evolving, and we are excited to grow with it,” says Johnson Bros. coo Todd Johnson. “With our national network and strong supplier partnerships, Johnson Brothers offers both customers and suppliers another great choice in the state of New Jersey.”

Since 2017, Johnson Bros. has expanded its footprint in:

  • West Virginia through a joint venture with the Rucker Family and Mountain State Beverage [see WSD 01-17-2017]
  • New York [see WSD 01-19-2017]
  • North Carolina by acquiring Mutual Distributing Co. [see WSD 03-29-2018]
  • Indiana, purchasing Monarch Beverage’s wine business including suppliers like E&J Gallo, Terlato Wine Group, Treasury Wine Estates, among others [see WSD 05-21-2018]


On Friday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order banning alcohol advertising on city-owned property such as bus shelters, newsstands, recycling bins and LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosks, effective immediately.

The mayor cited the health risk to young people and vulnerable populations as reasons for the ban. “There’s no doubt that far too many New Yorkers struggle with serious substance misuse issues, among them excessive drinking,” said Mayor de Blasio in a statement.

The city could lose about $3 million in ad revenue annually as a result of the ban. In 2018, alcohol ad revenue brought in $2.7 million, per The New York Times.

However, most of the city’s alcohol ad contracts are long-term. As such, the full ban won’t take effect until 2027, when the last deals expire.

In response, the Distilled Spirits Council called the decision “misguided and unsupported by scientific research,” per a statement.

“The nation’s distillers are committed to responsible advertising and have a proven history of successful self-regulation through our industry’s Code of Responsible Practices. The FTC, the lead federal agency charged with consumer protection, has repeatedly reaffirmed the spirits industry’s responsible advertising practices,” said DSC vp Jay Hibbard.


Florida retailer Magnum Wine and Tastings isn’t giving up the out-of-state shipping fight in Missouri. Last month, US District Judge Henry Edward Autrey sided with the state and now the retailer is appealing the ruling.  

BACKGROUND. In 2016, Magnum Wine and Tastings filed suit against Missouri because the state law that allowed Missouri retailers to sell, ship and deliver wine directly to Missouri consumers while excluding out-of-state retailers violates the Commerce Clause and the Privileges and Immunities law. Thus, discriminating against out-of-state retailers [see WSD 10-07-2016].

Fast forward to August 2017 when the retailer dropped its interstate shipping lawsuit after the state legislature repealed the aforementioned statute [see WSD 08-01-2017]. But, the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control interpreted a separate statute that allows in-state businesses to operate as a retailer to implicitly allow retailers (including wine retailers) to deliver through a common carrier, leaving out out-of-state retailers again. As a result, Magnum reignited the shipping fight, filing another, similar lawsuit [see WSD 11-30-2017].

Last year, the court sided with the state, dismissing the case. The retailer was given leave to amend the complaint to which the state filed another motion to dismiss.

But last month, the retailer struck out again. US District Court Judge Henry Edward Autrey granted the state’s motion to dismiss, ceding that the retailer adequately pleaded standing in its amended complaint, but that they still failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted [see WSD 04-05-2019].

NOTICE OF APPEAL. But Magnum isn’t ready to give up. The retailer filed a notice of appeal last week, hoping that the fourth time’s the charm.

Briefing on the appeal will start this summer, according to Alcohol Law Review.


WHISTLEPIG WHISKEY EXPANDS DISTRIBUTION. WhistlePig has expanded distribution with Republic National Distribution Company in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and New Mexico. The distiller is also re-aligning with RNDC in Kentucky and the wholesaler already handles the WhistlePig portfolio in Oklahoma and Michigan.

DELICATO TO IMPORT TORBRECK VINTNERS. Delicato Family Wines is now the exclusive US importer for Australia’s Torbreck Vintners through Transcendent Wines, Delicato’s fine wine sales and marketing division. They will be importing the following wines from the Torbreck portfolio: Woodcutter’s Shiraz, Woodcutter’s Semillon, Cuvee Juveniles, The Steading, The Steading Blanc, The Struie, The Factor, The Descendant, The Pict, Les Amis, RunRig, The Laird and Hillside Grenache.

GRAY WOLF CRAFT DISTILLING LAUNCHES AGAVE SPIRIT. Gray Wolf Craft Distilling has launched Lobo, an American Agave Spirit. It is distilled from 100% organic blue agave nectar and finished on charred French oak before being bottled at 87 proof. It will be available starting May 4 at Gray Wolf Craft Distilling / Lyon Distilling Company.

Until tomorrow,

“A mistake is simply another way of doing things.” – Katharine Graham  

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