Craft Beer Gtrowlers at Good Nature Brewing

Governor Cuomo Toasts the Beer, Wine and Spirts Industries

Oct 25, 2012
Beverage Reviews

Yesterday Governor Andrew Cuomo hosted the first ever Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit, which brought together business leaders from the industry and government officials to talk about what state government needs to do to help grow the industry.

So what does this “summit” really mean and did anything really come out of it?  Early indications from the responses we saw from local craft beverage makers, was that the summit was a huge success.  Last night, I received a press release from the governor’s office indicating changes have already been made as a result of the summit.

Here are the highlights of those changes:

Promotion and  Tourism

· The state will  provide $1 million dollars for a new advertising campaign to promote the  industry. The state will increase funding – leveraged on an industry match –  by up to $2 million, bringing the total marketing campaign to $5 million.
· To help New  York’s wine, beer and spirits producers penetrate major markets, like New York  City’s restaurants, the Governor announced a working group that will coordinate specialized,  annual marketing events – similar to Restaurant Week and
trade shows – that  partner restaurants and hotels across the state with producers of New  York-produced wine, beer, spirits, and food.
· The state will  aggressively work to find new ways to promote New York State-produced beer,  wine, spirits and cider at the annual State Fair.
· The state will  also look into ways to ensure that alcoholic beverages sold at New York Racing  Association tracks are produced in New York.

Single Point of  Government Contact

Beer, wine, and spirits manufacturers  and wholesalers raised concerns at the Summit about the number of different state  agencies that they must deal with, not only to go into business, but to stay  in compliance… To address this issue, the Governor announced that a  one-stop shop will be established within Empire State Development, so the  industry has a single point of contact and place to call for all assistance.

Regulatory Reform
· Ending prohibition against multiple manufacturing  licenses at the same location: Under existing regulations,  producers of multiple types of alcoholic beverages must have separate licenses  and separate premises for each type of beverage, and with the exception for  wineries and farm wineries, multiple-beverage manufacturers cannot share  facilities.  The Governor directed SLA  to eliminate this prohibition…
· Allowing craft manufacturers to sell bottles when  they are conducting tastings: Under existing law…there are a number of  events,  such as street fairs and charity events producers can provide samples, but not  sell their beverage by the bottle. To remedy this burden and provide  manufacturers with new venues to sell their products to consumers, the  Governor announced that SLA will allow producers to sell  “by the bottle” at events where they are currently allowed to conduct  tastings.
· The Governor today announced that SLA will expand eligibility guidelines so craft brewers  and cider producers will be able to join craft wineries in selling their goods  at street fairs, charitable events and other popular events.
· Reducing fee for manufacturers’ marketing permits:  At the Governor’s direction, SLA  will reduce the fee for its three-year manufacturers’ marketing license from  $750 to $125/year.
· Reducing license application requirements for  manufacturers: Currently, the amount of documentation that  producers must submit during the application process can be a heavy burden on  businesses. At the Governor’s direction, SLA  will waive the submission of certain documents not pertinent to a manufacturer’s application, such as detailed diagrams; multiple bank  statements, and information already on file.
· Eliminate Duplicative License for Distilleries and  Breweries: Currently, farm distilleries and farm breweries must get  a permit from the Department of Agriculture & Markets in addition to an  SLA license, costing an extra $400. The state  already exempts farm wineries from this license requirement,
and the Governor  today announced that all farm breweries and farm distilleries will also be  exempted.

Trade Issues
Industry representatives described during the  Summit how Canadian wine tariffs have had a  negative effect on New  York produced wines. The Governor announced that the  state will form a working group to help find solutions.

Beverage  Trails
There are federal and statutory limitations to  updating beer and wine trails as wells as strict federal rules on some road  signage. The Governor announced that the state will establish a working group  to create new trails, similar to the Cooperstown Beverage Trail.

International Trade  Shows
The Governor announced a working group,  which will work to introduce  New York  State beer, wine, cider,  and spirits to international trade shows.

Will these changes make a difference? Only time will really tell, but I think so.  If nothing else the state’s craft beverage industry now has more opportunities to introduce and produce their product than before, and regulations that the industry has been complaining about for years and getting nowhere with have been removed.  Governor Cuomo’s efforts should be applauded, and should go a long way to helping the rocket launch of the craft beverage industry in Central New York.

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