NY to spend $6M to promote wine, beer
ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the state will spend $6 million to market New York's wine and beer industry and seek to reform laws to expand distilleries in the state.
Cuomo held the second Beer, Wine, Spirits and Cider summit near the Capitol to tout the booming industry and hear recommendations on how to add new businesses.
He said he will introduce the Craft New York Act to simplify distilling manufacturing licenses and lower fees, expand marketing opportunities and modernize shipping laws. It would have to be approved by the Legislature.
Distillers have been on the rise in New York after laws were loosened in 2012 — when the first summit was held.
"We are fully cognizant we have further to go, because we want this to work better." Cuomo said. "We're taking liquor producers and we're making them marketers, restaurateurs, tourism destinations — these are not normal connections and it's not normally what [the State Liquor Authority] does."
He said the State Liquor Authority would be issuing advisories to clarify some laws and regulations that date back to the Prohibition era and have caused confusion in the beverage industry.
The $6 million will go to a promotional campaign to boost the state's beverage producers, he said. It's the latest investment in the state's marketing of the industry.
Cuomo in 2011 launched a $60 million tourism campaign to publicize food and beverage products made-in-state called "Taste NY." Cuomo contended that the initial $60 million investment has yielded $4 billion in economic activity.
"Your industry, we believed in from the get-go. It had tremendous potential for growth. It is a magnificent industry, not only in terms of potential, but also it complements the rest of the state economy overall," Cuomo said at the summit.
After reforming New York's laws, the number of farm-based beverage licenses for distilleries, wineries, breweries and cideries has risen 72 percent since 2011, Cuomo announced late last year.
New York is home to nearly 500 wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries, and the state ranks third in the nation in wine production. New York has the second-most distilleries in the country, and three of the top-producing 20 brewers are in New York.
The state has issued 32 farm-brewery licenses since January 2013.
Bill Barton, owner of Bellwether Hard Cider in Tompkins County, which opened in 1999, lauded the Taste NY program and the positive impact it has had on his business.
"Cider had a huge growth area from a very tiny start, but there's still tremendous potential and the beverage summit, the regulatory changes and everything that's gone on recently really has been crucial for this industry to get off the ground," Barton said at the event.
State Liquor Association president Tom Edwards said the group will host its trade show at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center for the first time this August. The association is donating half of the 50,000 square feet convention center space to small Taste NY upstarts who help promote their products.
The president of the state Brewers Association, Dave Katleski, who owns Empire Brewing in Syracuse, said the industry would like to see a change in state law to make it easier for breweries to direct ship to their customers and allow them to sell pints to customers on taste tours. Other wine and spirit owners brought up similar concerns.
"Right now, unless you are a 'farm' brewery, you cannot sell a pint of beer to someone who comes to your tasting room. Well you can, but have to have a restaurant," Katleski said at the summit. "If there were a change to adjust the law to allow them to sell pints of beer, that would have a huge economic impact to breweries."