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Cuomo signs legislation that reduces burden on Wine Indsutry

July 22, 2011

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he has signed legislation to significantly reduce the regulatory burdens placed on farm wineries by the State Liquor Authority (SLA). This bill would implement several of the recommendations made by the New York State Wine Grape Task Force in its December 2008 report to the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets.

"This bill is a huge boost for wineries across the state. Reducing the regulatory burdens on farm wineries will allow them to continue to thrive as a key tourism, agricultural, and economic engine for our state. I want to thank Commissioner Aubertine, Senator Young and Assemblyman Schimminger for their dedication to this bill," Governor Cuomo said.

The Fine Winery Bill includes:

Branch Store Capability: The bill would give farm wineries the ability to operate up to five branch stores. While farm wineries can currently operate up to five "satellite stores," under existing law those stores must obtain separate licenses and are subject to the same off-premise restrictions imposed on package/liquor stores. The new "branch store" system would allow such stores to be considered extensions of the farm winery, not as separate entities, making it much easier for such stores to be opened up around the state.

Custom Crush Capability: The bill clarifies the ability of farm wineries to provide and/or utilize custom crush services for purchasers of New York grapes, thereby encouraging smaller vineyards to enter in the industry, which in turn will foster rural economic growth.

Direct Shipper's Report Efficiencies: New York wineries have been able to ship directly to consumers in other states since 2005, but needed to produce a very costly, time consuming and underutilized report. This legislation now requires them to maintain reports on-site and provide them to SLA only upon request.

License Consolidation: Under this bill, the law no longer requires the State's wineries that manufacture less than 1,500 gallons of wine annually to apply for a separate micro-winery license; rather all farm wineries will have the same license, with micro-winery licenses continuing to cost $50 annually.

Charitable Events Filing Efficiencies: New York wineries seeking to participate in charitable events are no longer restricted to five per year. Now, wineries will have to obtain an annual permit and notify SLA of the event, greatly reducing the amount of burden on both wineries and SLA, while ensuring the same oversight.