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.
· 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.
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.
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.