A bill (A.4537/S.2190), sponsored by Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee (D-Nelson), that seeks to continue to encourage the wine and tourism industries by allowing wineries to conduct tastings beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays has passed the Assembly.
"This is a good bill not only for our wineries, but also for the tourism industries from Niagara County through the Finger Lakes, along the Hudson Valley and on Long Island," Magee said. "By allowing wineries to conduct wine tastings earlier on a Sunday these tourists and wine enthusiasts traveling through these regions are more apt to stay in the region longer and spend more money in the region."
Under current law, a winery is able to sell bottles of wine beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays but cannot allow that same customer to sample that wine until noon. This bill simply seeks to provide uniformity by allowing the winery to provide wine tastings and then sell the bottle of wine both beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays.
"In addition to its inherent economic and tourist related benefits this bill also provides greater uniformity in the law," Magee commented. "It just did not make any sense that wineries could sell wine at ten in the morning, but could not allow you to taste it until noon – it would be similar to going into a shoe store and being allowed to purchase shoes at ten in the morning, but not being allowed to try them on until noon."
There are currently over 200 wineries – from Long Island to the Hudson Valley to the Finger Lakes to Lake Erie – producing over 200 million bottles of wine annually, well over $500 million in aggregate gross sales and $85 million in state and local revenue on top of the 18,000 people they employ statewide. It is a major economic force that also provides a market to the almost 1,000 family-owned vineyards across the state.
"The more we can do to grow the grape, fruit and wine industry the better off our entire agriculture industry will be – what’s good for the farmer, is good for New York," Magee concluded.
The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Senator Michael Nozzolio (R-Seneca Falls).