A would not only create a distinct, "New York State-labeled" beer for certain brews, but would allow wineries to sell NYS-labeled beer for off-premises consumption in an effort to promote the locally-grown products.
A similar bill, which called for creating farm breweries but made no mention of selling beer at wineries, didn't make it through the state legislature last year. But as Cuomo continues to promote an "Open for Business" platform he announced soon after taking office, the provision was added with the intention of promoting both homegrown industries.
"These bills provide a boost for breweries, farmers, wineries, and communities across New York State," the governor said in a statement.
In determining a "New York State" beer, a certain percentage of products in the beer would have to be grown within the state, rising in increments until ultimately to 90 percent of the beer's ingredients are grown in New York by 2023. Wineries would be able to sell the beer for off-premises consumption - whether in bottle form or in growlers, half-gallon jugs which have been growing in popularity over the past couple of years. On the flipside, farm breweries would also be allowed to sell New York State-labeled wine.
Wineries are already permitted to provide beer tastings on site with proper permits.
"This is all about promoting New York State-grown agriculture products," said Steve Bate, executive director of the Long Island Wine Council. "In an area like the North Fork, this is going to be even more of an economic driver."
Kareem Massoud, of , said that while he doesn't foresee Paumanok ever offering beer at its Aquebogue winery, he agreed with Bate that in the agricultural community, the notion that one hand washes the other would ring true.
"The way the law is proposed, it's not like wineries would be putting Coors and Bud and Busch on tap all of a sudden," he said. "Basically we would be supporting one another. And if a brewery was interested in selling our wine, I would be happy to talk with them."
The proposal comes at a time when some locals on the North Fork are struggling to come to terms with an evolving North Fork wine industry that is more frequently expanding beyond growing and selling wine. Not to mention a growing craft beer industry that has recently seen an , a in Riverhead, and on West Main Street.
Most recently citing a slippery slope in town code that a, Southold Town has been at vineyards - events that some say are as a winery.
Southold Supervisor Scott Russell concurred with Bate, saying it's all about job creation at the moment.
"The promotion of local breweries is a good thing for communities looking to promote small private businesses and the jobs that come with them," Russell said via email.
Riverhead Beverage owner Kevin McKillop didn't sound too concerned at the proposal taking sales away from him, pointing to a few different reasons why. First, a cyclical past in craft beer explosions in the 1980s and 1990s, with much of his clientele eventually going back to popular beers such as Bud Light. Second, as Massoud pointed out, the number of wineries that would even sell NYS-labeled beer is questionable. And lastly, as the legislation must ultimately make its way through Albany, he would hope to get something in return for losing any potential clientele.
"Everybody wants to get on the train before it leaves the station, and I can't blame them," he said. "I assume our lobby would say 'what are you going to do for us?' Maybe we'll get wine."