“It’s no secret that New York’s wine industry is booming and this unprecedented growth is proof that our efforts to strengthen this sector are paying off,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this growth, the craft beverage industry in the Finger Lakes and beyond will continue to flourish – driving tourism, creating jobs and spurring local economies in every corner of the state.”
The number of farm wineries statewide, a license created in 1976, has grown by over 70 percent, from 195 in 2011 to 333 today. This growth is remarkable, considering in the first 35 years, New York had 195 farm wineries, while over the last six years 138 more have opened their doors.
The policy changes put into place by this administration led the international Wine Enthusiast magazine to name New York State the “Wine Region of the Year” in 2014 and the Finger Lakes one of the “Best Wine Travel Destinations” in 2015. As a further sign of the rising demand for Finger Lakes wines, the Wine Spectator now lists the Finger Lakes region in its annual wine ratings. In addition to noting the world class quality of New York wines and wine producers, Wine Enthusiast praised the Governor for updating outdated regulations, modernizing the law, and launching effective marketing programs to support the farm-based craft beverage sector.
Statutory and regulatory reforms implemented under Governor Cuomo to support New York’s wine industry include:
The Fine Winery Bill: On July 22, 2011, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to reduce the regulatory burdens placed on wineries. The legislation allows farm wineries to operate up to five branch stores, cuts paperwork burdens, reduces capital costs by allowing wineries to engage in custom crush, allows wineries to participate in more charitable events and consolidates winery license categories.
2012 Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit: On October 24, 2012, Governor Cuomo hosted the state’s first Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit and immediately implemented changes to support New York’s wine industry, including:
- Allowing the same manufacturer to have multiple licenses at the same location;
- Allowing craft manufacturers to sell “by the bottle” when they are conducting tastings;
- Reducing fees for manufacturers’ marketing permits for off-site sales, from $250 to $125 per year;
- Reducing license application requirements for manufacturers; and
- Increasing the duration of winery licenses from one to three years to reduce paperwork burdens.
Roadside farmers’ markets: On September 30, 2013, the Governor signed legislation allowing the sale of wine at roadside markets to increase sales and promotion of NYS wines.
2014 Wine, Beer, Spirits and Cider Summit: On April 8, 2014, Governor Cuomo hosted the second craft beverage summit and immediately implemented the following changes to assist wineries:
- Eliminating the requirement for farm winery licensees to obtain a $1,000 surety bond to obtain a license; and
- Reducing costs to farm wineries by allowing them to transport neighboring wineries’ products to tasting and sales events.
New York Craft Act: On November 13, 2014, Governor Cuomo signed the NY Craft Act, effective December 13, 2014. The new law continues the State’s support of the growing craft beverage industry by cutting requirements placed on producers and rolling back restrictions regarding the marketing of craft products, including:
- Increasing the production cap on small producers, the annual production cap for Farm Wineries increased from 150,000 gallons to 250,000;
- Allowing all manufacturers to conduct tastings and sell, by the bottle or glass, the alcoholic beverages they manufacture without a separate license; and
- Lowering the food requirement that must be met by manufacturers to obtain a license to sell other alcoholic beverages by the glass.
2015 Wine, Beer, Spirits and Cider Summit: On October 7, 2015, Governor Cuomo held the State’s third Beer, Wine, Spirits and Cider Summit and immediately implemented the following changes to assist wineries:
- Investing of $5 million to renew the marketing and promotional commitment first launched in 2014, with the State committing $2 million in direct spending to support the industry’s growth via $1 million in tourism promotion and a $1 million targeted advertising campaign;
- Launching an additional $3 million grant program that matches 20 percent of the industry’s contributions for the marketing and promotion of wine, beer, spirits and cider produced in New York State; and
- Permitting salespeople to represent multiple craft beverage manufacturers to increase distribution for small craft producers and provide more opportunities for salespeople to join the growing beverage industry.
Modernization of New York’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law: On September 7, 2016 Governor Cuomo signed legislation to modernize New York’s archaic 80-year-old Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, including provisions to:
- Expand Sunday sales hours from noon to 10 a.m. statewide;
- Combine manufacturing licenses for those holding multiple licenses into one application to reduce paperwork for small businesses; and
- Authorize the sale of wine in growlers from wineries and farm wineries.
Sales by the glass: On September 16, 2016, Governor Cuomo signed legislation allowing farm wineries, breweries and cideries to sell any New York-made farm alcoholic beverage by the glass at their production facility or off-site branch store. Under previous law, farm manufacturers were limited to selling only products by the glass they produce on site.
As a result of New York’s leadership in supporting the craft beverage industry, the growth of wineries and farm wineries is leading to increased tax revenue, job opportunities, increased demand for farm products and a bolstered tourism impact for the state. Of the 100 wineries located in the Finger Lakes, 89 are farm wineries, meaning all of the grapes or other fruits utilized to produce the wine were grown in New York. Additionally, 13 farm wineries in the Finger Lakes have opened off-site branch stores, a practice which was authorized under the Governor’s Fine Wine legislation.
A full list of the new wineries and farm wineries established in the Finger Lakes in the last year is available here.
This substantial industry growth and attention to the region is putting Finger Lakes wineries on the international map for wine connoisseurs. Finger Lakes wines are popping up in European and Asian countries and more small family owned businesses are exporting products to overseas markets. This, combined with visitors and travel writers promoting the region, is bringing tourists and buyers from all over the country and the world to visit New York wine regions.
Today, more than 5 million tourists visit New York wineries annually. In 2015, travelers to the Finger Lakes spent more than $2.9 billion in the area. Wine production in New York has increased more than 50 percent in the last 20 years to nearly 200 million bottles annually, making New York the third largest wine producing state in the country, behind California and Washington. The sales of New York wines account for $420 million a year, and the industry has a $4.8 billion economic impact.
State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley said, “Governor Cuomo’s support of New York’s wineries, through cutting red tape, easing regulations and providing marketing incentives, has led to a boom in manufacturers throughout the state. The hundreds of new wineries that have opened in the last six years are creating jobs, generating economic development and driving tourism in communities across New York.”
Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward
Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $3.4 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.
Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.