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Summit spotlights reforms to invigorate breweries, wineries, distilleries

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo washed down his successful yogurt summit hosted in August by spotlighting beer, wine and spirits at a similar event Wednesday in Albany.

At the Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit, owners of breweries, wineries and distilleries shared ideas with legislators and industry experts about how the state can lend a helping hand by easing regulations and strengthening its marketing campaign.

In response to their concerns, Mr. Cuomo outlined a plan of action that will include launching a $1 million advertising campaign to promote the industry and increase tourism. If industry stakeholders contribute a matching amount of $1 million, he said, the state will contribute an additional $2 million to increase the campaign total to $4 million.

“This funding will be critical to educate consumers to realize what they have in their own backyard,” said Steve Ammerman, manager of public affairs for the New York Farm Bureau, who attended the summit. “This will help small wineries and the biggest distilleries and breweries” across the state.

Wineries, craft breweries and distilleries will have less red tape to untangle thanks to reforms outlined by the governor. Burdensome regulations that have hampered manufacturers who produce multiple beverages will be axed under the plan. Under the current law, multiple manufacturing licenses aren’t authorized at the same location, making it illegal for producers to make multiple alcoholic beverages under the same roof. Manufacturers who produce multiple beverages also aren’t allowed to use a shared facility.

Those regulations will be scrapped immediately, the governor said, allowing brewery, winery and distillery operations to take place at one location.

Industry experts also highlighted the detrimental impact of Canadian wine tariffs, Mr. Ammerman said, which discourage Canadians who visit New York wineries from making purchases because of high costs at the border. The governor said the state will form a committee to find potential solutions to that problem.

He also highlighted the untapped potential for wine, beer and spirits to be sold to markets in New York City, Mr. Ammerman said.

“Getting more products into that market would be huge, because it’s really the center of the universe in the culinary world,” he said. “When you have all of these people coming from all over the world sampling the wines, they’ll spread the message that New York is a wine-growing state.”

New York now has a combined 450 wineries, distilleries, breweries and cideries, according to the governor’s office. The industry as a whole generates an annual economic impact of more than $22 billion. Nationwide, the state ranks second for its number of distilleries and third in grape and wine production.

The following reforms also were announced by the governor:

n Producers of beer and cider will be allowed to acquire temporary permits to sell their products directly to consumers at special events and street fairs. The governor signed legislation this year to enable wineries to obtain permits for special events, but the eligibility guidelines will be expanded by the state Liquor Authority to include craft brewers and cider producers.

n Fees to acquire marketing permits for producers will be reduced by the state Liquor Authority. The fee for a three-year marketing license will decrease from $750 to $125 a year.

n Duplicate licenses for farm distilleries and farm breweries will be discontinued. Currently, distilleries and breweries need to acquire a permit from the state Department of Agriculture & Markets along with a state Liquor Authority license, adding an extra cost of $400. The state, which already exempts wineries from the requirement, will also exempt breweries and distilleries.

n Application requirements for producers will be reduced by the state Liquor Authority, which will not require forms to be completed for data it already has on file.

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