The 2005 legislative session proved to be one of the most productive for New York’s bustling wine industry. Central New York and the Finger Lakes region produce – without question – some of the best wines in the world. Legislation and initiatives from 2005 have helped provide a boost for New York’s agricultural and tourism industries, bringing more money and jobs to our wine regions.
During the final days of the 2005 legislative session, the state Legislature passed a bill which I cosponsored, authorizing the direct shipment of wine to consumers of legal drinking age within and outside the state. Each customer can buy up to 36 cases of wine annually. The bill was in the works for several years, so its passage by both houses is some of the best news we’ve had in a long time. Gov. George Pataki and Senate and Assembly leaders united to address an issue that was stalled for too long.
In addition to the legislation authorizing the direct shipment of wine, Gov. George Pataki, local dignitaries, and I met earlier this year to break ground for construction of the New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua. Working together with Congressman Randy Kuhl, Senators Volker and Nozzolio; we were able to pass legislation and secure federal and state funding to make this facility a reality.
This 15,000-square-foot attraction will feature a changing selection of quality New York wines, a wine and tapas bar, wine and food pairings, a theater-style demonstration kitchen, a training kitchen for hands-on cooking classes, industrial kitchens for accredited culinary classes, and corporate training facilities.
Agriculture is New York’s No. 1 industry and our wine industry has experienced explosive growth over the last 20 years, and more specifically over the last 5 years. The wine and culinary center will be a showcase for many of the wonderful products of our great state, while the direct wine shipment legislation will help to expand our wine market throughout the country, introducing thousands to New York’s fine quality, great tasting wines.
Earlier this year, a New York state wine won top honors at an international competition. With more than 200 wineries in New York, we’ve seen quite an increase in the amount of wine previously produced from the less than 20 wineries located in this State only thirty years ago.
There is little question that the progress made in 2005 for our wine industry will help carry New York into an even brighter future with more wineries, more jobs, increased tourism and substantial boosts to our local economies. Central New York and the Finger Lakes region will feel the positive effect of these and other initiatives well into the future.