NY BEVERAGE LICENSE INCREASE

News

The number of New York’s farm-based beverage licenses for distilleries, wineries, breweries and cideries has risen a whopping 72% after 2011. Since Governor Andrew Cuomo took office, legislation has been enacted to help these businesses open new markets across the state, and additional agricultural businesses have been created as a result of new licenses signed into law by the Governor. Existing farm-based beverage businesses have also grown exponentially as a result of policies and initiatives put in place by the Administration at the request of industry leaders.

In October 2012, the Governor hosted the State’s first ever Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit to identify ways that New York State could encourage growth in the industry. Summit participants asked for assistance from the State with their marketing efforts. As a result of these requests, Governor Cuomo launched Taste NY to further open markets for New York’s food and beverage industries. Part of the governor's efforts to promote agribusiness across the state, Taste NY is being marketed through a range of promotional efforts, including Taste NY tents at important events, Taste NY stores in transportation hubs and a dedicated website, www.taste.ny.gov.

Taste NY Distilleries:

Since 2011, the number of farm distilleries in New York State has increased 320%, from 10 in the first quarter of 2011 to 42 today. In addition, the number of Class A and B distilleries has risen 136%, from 14 in 2011 to 33 today.

In October 2012, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to allow licensed farm distilleries to sell their liquor at the New York State Fair, recognized county fairs, and not-for-profit farmers' markets. This new law is helping local farms to grow by providing distilleries with the same access to marketing opportunities currently allowed to licensed wineries, farm wineries, and farm breweries. Thanks to this legislation, the New York State Brew Pub and Distillery premiered at the Great New York State Fair this past summer.

In May 2013, 24 New York State distilleries participated in the Manhattan Cocktail Classic’s Opening Night Gala, the first time the State’s distilleries have participated together under the banner of New York State at the event.

Taste NY Wineries:

Since 2011, the number of farm wineries has risen by 40%, from 195 in 2011 to 273 today. In addition, farm winery branch offices have increased by 76%, from 29 in 2011 to 51 today. The number of wineries has risen from 55 in 2011 to 73 today, an increase of 33%.

In August 2013, the Governor launched a new television ad campaign to promote New York State’s award-winning wines and further grow the Taste NY experience. In September 2013, Governor Cuomo signed legislation allowing roadside farmers’ markets to sell New York State labeled wine manufactured and produced by up to two licensed farm wineries, special wineries or micro-wineries located within 20 miles of the roadside farmers’ markets.

Also in September 2013, the Governor signed laws establishing the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail in the North Country and expanding the Shawangunk East Wine Trail in the Hudson Valley. In addition, the “Niagara Escarpment Wine Trail” will be renamed the “Niagara Wine Trail Ridge” and expand while the “Niagara Wine Trail” will be renamed the “Niagara Wine Trail Lake” and will also expand. Under additional legislation, the “Chautauqua Wine Trail” will be renamed the “Lake Erie Wine Country Trail.” There are currently 16 wine trails designated by state law.

Taste NY Breweries:

There are currently 26 licensed farm breweries in New York, with more than a dozen applications currently in the pipeline. The number of microbreweries has risen 133% since 2011, from 40 in 2011 to 93 today. In addition, the number of restaurant brewers has increased from 10 in 2011 to 23 today, a 130% increase.

In July 2012, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to support and strengthen New York’s craft breweries. Under the new law, beer must be made primarily from locally grown farm products in order to receive a New York State Farm Brewery license. The beer manufactured under these guidelines would be designated as “New York State labeled beer.” The legislation was modeled after the 1976 “Farm Winery Act,” which spurred the growth of wine production in this state, including the creation of hundreds of farm wineries and tripling the number of wineries.

Under the farm brewery license, brewers do not need an additional permit to serve beer by the glass, which has the highest return for brewers in terms of sales. Farm brewers can also make cider and serve that cider by the glass. They are allowed to have five branch offices, where they can sell their products and other New York State labeled beer, wine and liquor, in addition to having tasting rooms, retail shops and restaurants.

Taste NY Cideries:

The number of hard cider producers has risen 340% in New York since 2011, from five in 2011 to 22 today.

In October 2013, Governor Cuomo signed the Farm Cideries bill that established a new license for farm cideries. The bill authorizes the establishment and licensure of farm cideries for the manufacture and sale of cider made from crops grown in New York State and would exclude licensed farm cideries from the sales tax information return filing requirements. In order to obtain a farm cidery license, the hard cider must be made exclusively from apples grown in New York State and no more than 150,000 gallons may be produced annually. Farm cideries will be allowed to offer tastings of and sell not only cider, but also beer, wine, and spirits made from New York products.

In addition, because farm cideries may also sell products such as mustards, sauces, jams, jellies, souvenirs, artwork, crafts and other gift items, these businesses, much like farm wineries, will become destination locations that will promote tourism within their communities. Also, the need for apples in the manufacture of New York State labeled cider will create a sustained demand for products from New York’s farmers.

Also in October 2013, Taste NY was a presenting sponsor of CiderWeek NY, which featured nine days of events throughout New York City and the Hudson Valley aimed at promoting New York’s ciders.

A host of regulatory reforms were also implemented immediately following first Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit, including:

eliminating the prohibition on holding more than one manufacturer’s license on the same premises;

expanding opportunities for New York’s craft manufacturers to sell and provide samples of their products at special events;

allowing craft manufacturers to sell by the bottle when they conduct tastings;

reducing the supplier/marketing permit fees from $750 for three years to $125 per year;

elimination of a duplicate $400 permit for Farm Distillers and Farm Brewers; and

allowing the issuance of one day special event permits to craft brewers and cider producers.

Cuomo also created a “one stop shop” to provide New York’s wine, beer, cider and spirits producers with a single point of government contact for assistance regarding regulations, licensing, state incentives and other questions. These, and other legislative and policy improvements have helped stimulate tremendous growth of New York’s small, farm-based manufacturers.

In addition to legislative and regulatory improvements, the State Liquor Authority (SLA) has made tremendous progress over the past three years in processing licenses faster. At the end of 2010, the SLA had a backlog of 750 pending applications, with the average license application taking 102 days to review. Today, the backlog is down to 14, with licenses being reviewed in 61 days, a 40% and 41 day improvement from three years ago. This improvement has aided New York’s rapidly growing alcohol manufacturing businesses, with the review of manufacturing licenses, including wineries, breweries and distilleries, taking an average of 52 days today, down from 83 days in 2010, a 37% improvement.

For more information about New York’s growing beer, wine, spirits and cider industries: www.taste.ny.gov.