Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Legislative Gazette: New Laws to Help New York Vintners (NY)

In August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo toured vineyards along the western shore of Seneca Lake to promote the Taste of New York program. Continuing the state's efforts to better market and promote locally produced wine, the governor recently signed a series of bills permitting the sale of bottled wine at roadside farm markets, as well as the rebranding and designation of wine trails throughout upstate New York to stimulate local economies and boost tourism. Photo by courtesy of the Governor’s Office.
New laws to help NY vintners '
October 7, 2013

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed into law a series of bills allowing New York state wine to be offered locally at roadside farm markets as well as the rebranding and designation of state wine trails. The bills come on the heels of recent efforts to boost tourism and job growth within local communities throughout upstate New York by marketing and promoting the state's thriving wine industry.

"These new laws will build on our continuing efforts to promote New York's wine industry across the state and beyond, boosting tourism, local economies and job growth," Cuomo said.

The farm markets bill (S.267/A.1512), sponsored by Sen. William Larkin, R-New Windsor, and Assemblyman William Magee, D-Nelson, permits the sale of wine produced by up to two licensed wineries at roadside farm markets located within 20 miles of the wineries.

The governor signed four wine trail bills; one expands an existing wine trail, another expands and renames two existing wine trails, and one establishes a new wine trail. The goal is to increase tourism in New York's wine-making regions. Photo by AP.

The bill amends the alcoholic beverage law and creates a new license obtainable through the State Liquor Authority for farm wineries, special wineries or micro wineries to be able to sell bottles of wine for "off-premise" purchase at roadside farm markets.

"By allowing New York's wide variety of quality wines to be sold at roadside farm markets, we are opening another door for this important industry. This is a measure that will support the growth of local businesses in our communities, and provide an important boost to wine producers across the state," Magee said.

The annual fee for roadside stands to obtain a retailers license to sell the bottled wine is $100 according to Section 7 of the bill, which gives regulatory authority to the Liquor Authority as to what precisely constitutes a farm stand and mandates that such farms stands are not to conduct wine tastings.

A spokesperson from Larkin's office said the provision in the bill against wine tastings by roadside markets was included to simplify the licensing process. He said in order to streamline the licensing process, that restriction had to be included because if people were to drink at the stands, more oversight would be required by the Liquor Authority — potentially further complicated by concerns of drunk driving.

The primary focus of the farm markets bill is off-premise consumption of the wine, simply providing a venue for farmers to sell locally produced wine, and "thereby increase excise tax collections and increase employment by New York wineries," according to the bill language.

Sen. Terry Gipson, D-Rhinebeck, co-sponsor of the farm markets bill said, "Showcasing and selling locally produced wines will help grow the economy and provide additional income for our local farmers and vintners."

He continued, "As the ranking member on the Agriculture Committee and a member of the Tourism Committee, this law will not only boost our local agriculture economy, but will also enable anyone who stops at a roadside stand to bring home the best flavors of our region."

The governor also signed four wine trail bills into law; one expands an existing wine trail, another expands and renames two existing wines trails, and one establishes a new wine trail.

"We are increasing market opportunities for local producers and farmers and expanding our wine trails to attract tourists to communities across upstate New York. Our state is home to hundreds of wineries that produce some of the best wine in the world, and we want both New Yorkers and visitors to come and enjoy them," Cuomo said.

Bill A.4614-a/A.2790, sponsored by Larkin and Assemblyman James Skoufis, D-Chester, expands the Shawangunk East Wine trail. The trail will include State Route 32 from Route 17 in Orange County, to Route 94 in New Windsor to Route 9W, continuing westward on to Route 44/55 in the Town of Lloyd to its intersection with Route 208 in the Town of Gardiner in Ulster County, according to the Governor's Office

"I am very pleased that two of my bills helping the wine industry were signed into law. By authorizing licensed farm stands to sell local wines and expanding the Shawangunk East Wine trail, we are creating more opportunities for New York state to promote its wine industry," Larkin said. "I thank Governor Cuomo for his approval of these two laws."

Bill A.2024-a/S.1095-a) sponsored by Senator George Maziarz, R-Newfane, both extends and renames two Niagara wine trails. The Niagara Escarpment Wine Trail will be renamed the "Niagara Wine Trail Ridge" and will include all of Route 104 through Route 390, according to the Governor's Office.

The Niagara Wine Trail will be renamed the "Niagara Wine Trail Lake" and will include portions of Route 269, Routes 104 and 18, Route 425, and Route 62 in Niagara and Erie counties.

"As the wine industry grows in the Niagara Region, we need to keep supporting it and helping it realize its potential," Maziarz said. "The Niagara Wine Trail is a homegrown success story that leads to jobs and tourists in our area. I thank the governor for recognizing how important this measure is to our communities.

Bill S.1013-b/A.3758-c, sponsored by Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, and Assemblywomen Janet Duprey, R-Plattsburgh, establishes the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail. The route will extend from exit 35 off of I-87 in the Town of Peru and continue to Plattsburgh, according to the Governor's Office.

A spokesperson from Little's office said being from the region and serving as chair of the Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee, it was fitting that Little sponsor the bill after hearing from wine producers in the North Country looking to promote their products.

He said the hope is that people who visit the established and successful wine trails in Quebec and Vermont make the short trip to the New York trails and sample what the state has to offer.

"Communities in the North Country have found great success in growing grapes and producing wine and the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail will help promote and direct people to this local treasure," Little said. "The number of wineries is increasing in the region, and we look forward to adding more as the industry grows."

Duprey said the bill was strongly supported by local wineries, the North Country Chamber of Commerce and the Farm Bureau and will bring attention to the growing "agribusiness."

"I am pleased the governor signed into law the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail legislation," she said. "Our local wineries offer great views of the Adirondack Mountains and Lake Champlain while providing a wide variety of award winning vines. As the first international wine trail, the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail will connect trails to Vermont and Quebec, supporting tourism throughout the region."

Bill S.3923-b/A.5721-b, sponsored by Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, renames the Chautauqua Wine trail the "Lake Erie Wine Country Trail."

"New York's wine industry is a robust and thriving part of our agricultural sector and one of our state's greatest economic assets," Young said.

"Our wine and wineries often go unheralded, which is why this legislation is so important to making consumers aware of all that New York state wine has to offer," Young said. "Through strengthened marketing and promotional efforts we will improve wine tourism and economic development and our state will benefit significantly."

Goodell said since its creation in 2000, the Chautauqua wine trail now includes more than 30,000 acres of vineyards and with the rebranding will be able to implement a joint marketing program with Pennsylvania, bringing national attention to farms, vineyards, and other businesses across Western New York and the Southern Tier.

"The Lake Erie Wine Country Trail highlights the largest concord grape growing area in the nation and our historic villages, lakes, unspoiled woods and farmland that are unique from Silver Creek Harborcreek, Pennsylvania," Goodell said.

"In addition to our own marketing efforts, we will now also benefit from the marketing efforts of the Pennsylvania wineries, thereby making the entire region even more attractive as a destination," Goodell said.

According to the bills, there is no cost to New York taxpayers. There will be a fee for those who obtain the farmers markets license. Businesses looking to expand the opportunities to sell their products will help pay for the new trails' implementation.

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