From the groovy modernist venue The Egg in Albany, Governor Andrew Cuomo convened the first Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit to discuss the state's flourishing wineries, breweries and distilleries. While no booze was actually served (outside of a sampling opportunity, attendees just had coffee, apple cider, ice water or orange juice), Cuomo said, "New York's vibrant beer, wine, cider and spirits industry supports thousands of jobs across the state and is a major driver of tourism in many communities. The important discussion held at this summit and key reforms that resulted continue our work as an entrepreneurial government to partner with the private sector to help key industries thrive and prosper." Speaking of governmental partners:
The Times Union's Jimmy Vielkind noted that one speaker, Jim Trezise of the Wine & Grape Foundation, said many people abroad have no idea that NY State produces some very wonderful wines—apparently foreigners say, "Where do you grow the grapes, in Central Park?" Of course, some of NY's own laws have prohibited growth:
The governor, a Democrat, disclosed several regulatory tweaks that will help an industry governed by a strict legal framework that in many of its particulars dates to the end of Prohibition. Under current rules, different types of alcohol manufacturers can't operate in the same building, and wineries that give out samples at street fairs can't sell their bottled wares at the same location. Cuomo proposed ending both those restrictions.
The governor also announced numerous measures to help businesses, from making navigating regulations easier to a marketing push. Here are some initiatives planned:
- 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 and, the Governor announced a working group led by Secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz 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.
Cuomo also said, "Is there a connection between my governorship and people drinking more? I don’t know. But, if they’re drinking more New York product, great — I’m happy." Speaking of happy: