At Gov. Andrew Cuomo Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit, industry professionals sounded off about permit regulations, legislative red tape and archaic alcohol laws that keep them from growing their businesses.
Owners of wineries suggested taking the Legislature out of the process of coordinating wine trails for tourism. Brewers advocated establishing centralized grain depots and mobile bottling plants. Distillers and cider makers requested more representation in the state’s tourism campaigns to heighten awareness of their products.
At the Yogurt Summit in August, Cuomo announced that the state would relax environmental regulations on dairy farms. It is unclear whether the governor plans to make a similar announcement regarding the craft beverage industry when the summit reconvenes Wednesday afternoon.
Ginny Clark, vice president for Constellation Brands and president of the New York Wine and Culinary Center, located near Rochester, said the nearly two-hour discussion will “certainly take the industry to a whole new level.”
She was particularly interested in an idea floated by several speakers that the industry focus efforts on promoting New York beverages in the very competitive New York City market. One speaker even suggested a “blowout” launch party to turn city residents on to the drink-local movement.
“We should all get together and go to New York City and pull the team together,” Clark said, “and have New York City recognize all that’s great in New York state.”
Others suggested that New York wines, beers and spirits should be sold and promoted at the state fair and at state-owned race tracks.
Elizabeth Stamp, partner at Lakewood Vineyards in Watkins Glen, in Schuyler County, said showcasing these products at official functions enhances citizens’ pride in their state.
“Looking at other states that have done this, their industry has such ownership from the people within the state, and they’re so proud of it,” Stamp said. “It makes a huge difference in their production levels and the success of their businesses.”
Ralph Erenzo, partner of Tuthilltown Brewery in Gardiner, Ulster County, spoke about the alcohol laws, particularly those that govern liquor distilleries, that were enacted to solve problems that don’t exist anymore.
“A lot of changes in alcohol law are statutory changes,” he said. “They take a long time to go into effect.”