Schimminger, Young Bill Promoting Wine, Grape Industry Headed to Governor

June 17, 2011

The New York State Legislature has given final passage to legislation that amends the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law making the procedure for licensing and regulation of wineries and farm wineries in New York State a more seamless process.

“The New York State Wine & Grape Task Force recommended several changes to the ABC Law in 2008. This legislation reflects many of those proposals in an effort to further promote the successful development of New York’s wine and grape industry,” said Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-C-I-Kenmore, and Assembly sponsor of the legislation (A.7828-A/S.4143-A).

“This is long overdue, needed reform that looks to the future, hoping for a wine industry less encumbered by antiquated and unnecessary state regulations. This legislation will help level the playing field on which this industry competes with other states and countries and will enable New York’s wineries to better market their products. I am hopeful the Governor will sign this legislation which is so critical to the sustainability of one of New York’s fastest growing industries,” said Senator Catharine Young, R-C-I-Olean, and Senate sponsor of the bill.

Included in the changes to the ABC Law are the definitions of a “custom crush facility” and “farm,” which clarifies which properties are eligible for licensing. It also gives express statutory authority for farm wineries to operate or use the services of a custom crush facility to process grapes, fruits, and other plants in New York State from or on behalf of other licensed wineries and farm wineries.

“These amendments facilitate growth in the grape growing and wine-making sectors, while at the same time maintaining the appropriate protections related to the sale of alcoholic beverages,” said Schimminger, chair of the Assembly Committee on Economic Development. “By signing this legislation into law, the Governor will make locating the appropriate requirements for different types of wine-related licenses easier for applicants and licensees. I want to thank Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Darrel Aubertine for working closely with us to develop this important legislation.”

Once signed into law, holders of a winery license would be eligible to receive and process wine from other states, sell wine in bulk and sell wine to licensed wholesalers and/or retailers. Authorization for annual permits for participation in events sponsored by charitable or religious organizations will also be more accessible.

It is anticipated that additional sales of wine would result because of the passage of this legislation. Assemblyman Schimminger and Senator Young said New York’s Wine Industry is the fastest growing part of New York’s two largest economic sectors of agriculture and tourism. According to a recent study conducted by the Napa Valley-based Stonebridge Research Group, the industry contributed more than $3.76 billion to New York’s economy in 2008 – a 10 percent increase since 2004.

“You can go to almost any part of this state, including New York City, and find a winery today. The wine industry has become such an economic engine for this state. A big reason for this dramatic growth is a direct result of the public and private sectors working together to find ways to better promote this industry. We need to everything we can to continue supporting it,” said Young.

The amendments will take effect 90 days after enactment.