Cuomo Signs Law to Help New York Craft Beverage Producers

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed a new law Thursday designed to cut “burdensome requirements” and ease restrictions for production and marketing of craft beverages in the state.

To further develop the industry and raise the profile of New York’s beverage producers, Cuomo has also launched two craft beverage grant programs—a new $2 million Craft Beverage Marketing and Promotion Grant Program and a $1 million Craft Beverage Industry Tourism Promotion Grant.

Both the legislation, proposed in June of 2014, and new grant programs are part of the Governor’s promise made in April of this year at the second Wine, Beer, Spirits & Cider Summit to continue to support and provide resources for this growing industry. The results of this news should be felt strongly by the ever increasing number of East End wineries and breweries, as well as local makers of spirits and cider, such as Sag Harbor Rum and Woodside Orchards in Aquebogue.

“New York produces some of the best wine, beer, spirits and cider in the world—an industry which not only creates jobs, but supports farmers and brings in tourism dollars across every corner of the state,” Governor Cuomo said. “This new law builds upon this administration’s ongoing efforts to promote this industry by cutting red tape, reducing burdensome regulations and removing artificial barriers that stifled growth,” he continued, adding, “New York is truly open for business, and I thank my partners in the legislature for their hard work in making this a success for all of our craft beverage businesses.”

The Craft New York Act, which will take effect in 30 days, provides New York manufacturers with greater opportunities to market their products, including:

1. Allowing producers to conduct tastings and serve “by the bottle” and “by the glass.”

2. Permitting farm distilleries to increase the retail outlets where they can sell and offer samples of their products.

3. Lowering the food requirement that must be met by manufacturers when offering tastings and consumption on premises.

4. Allowing farm distilleries to obtain a permit to operate a branch office, eliminating the need for a separate license.

5. Reducing costs for small manufacturers by increasing the production cap and permitting more production without increased fees.

The $2 million Craft Beverage Marketing and Promotion Grant Program, which was created to increase the profile, awareness and sales of New York State produced wine, beer, spirits and hard cider, will provide matching funds for the marketing and promotion of craft beverages. Up to $500,000 will be awarded to eligible not-for-profit organizations to help cover the costs associated with marketing the craft beverage industry.

This includes the purchase of recognized media advertising, production costs of print collateral and audio/visual, industry related tours, marketing materials, and website design, development, and updates.

Applicants must incorporate the Taste NY initiative, and Empire State Development is providing the funding in coordination with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. In addition, the $1 million State’s Craft Beverage Industry Tourism Promotion Grant will help grow tourism across New York State, especially in regions like the East End, by promoting destinations, attractions and special events explicitly related to the craft beverage industry.

Empire State Development will award working capital funding of up to $250,000 for marketing-based tourism projects intended to create or retain jobs, increase tourism in the craft beverage industry and attract visitors to the state. Successful projects will support the Regional Economic Development Council’s long-term strategic plans for economic growth in various regions. This will also align with current “I Love New York” marketing strategies.

“This new law signed by Governor Cuomo, coupled with new promotional funding, will help bring an already world class farm-based beverage industry to new heights,” State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said. “The growth of this industry is truly unprecedented and it’s still showing no signs of slowing down,” Ball added. “The opportunities for New York agriculture that have been created during this boom continue to expand every year, in turn providing jobs in local economies and fueling economic growth throughout the state.”

Eligible not-for-profit organizations can apply for both the Craft Beverage Grant Program and the Craft Beverage Industry Tourism Promotion Grant by submitting a Consolidated Funding Application. Additional program information and guidelines can be found at the Empire State Development website, For more information, email Sam Filler at or call 518-227-1535.

The number of farm-based businesses manufacturing wine, beer, spirits and cider using ingredients grown in New York and the total number of manufacturers producing alcoholic beverages has more than doubled since 2011. Some 220 new farm based businesses have opened across New York since Governor Cuomo took office in 2010, including 101 new farm wineries, 62 farm breweries, 49 farm distilleries, and 8 farm cideries.

According to New York State Brewers Association Executive Director Paul Leone, New York will also see more than 200 new craft breweries open by early 2015.

“The business climate for the New York wine industry has never been nearly as good as it is today… Just like we need a good climate to grow good grapes, we need a good business climate to grow this industry,” Jim Trezise, President, New York Wine & Grape Foundation said, happy to point out that the law also helps his colleagues in the craft beer, spirits and cider sectors. “This is a totally new era.”

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