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Farm Brewery Bill Would Permit 'New York' Beer Sales at Wineries

Off-premises consumption of New York State-labeled beer would be allowed under new farm brewery bill proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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."

Erin Schultz (Editor) March 21, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Patrice Mackesy said on Facebook: "Conklin Beer !!!!!"
Erin Schultz (Editor) March 21, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Daniel Edward McGurn said on Facebook: "I leave New York and all hell breaks loose! Do NYers love the Guv or what?"
Erin Schultz (Editor) March 21, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Bobbie Theiss Peters said on Facebook: "You mean the wineries are even more like a bar? What's next, mixed drinks? They have the entertainment already."
William Swiskey sr March 22, 2012 at 03:26 AM
I think it's time to treat and tax the WINERIES for what the are not farms, Retail businesses (Bars) and how about some SLA regulation same as bars
forward thinking March 22, 2012 at 11:36 AM
we all make up the east end and live here because we are fighting to keep it non - hamptons and a safe "harbour" for those who want to escape the rigors of nyc. we the "non- farm business" are having our taxes "upped" to subsidize farm business'. i truly believe farm land and farming is a very precious area that needs to be kept profitable and kept here on the east end. the town should look into "carving out the "retail" area of the farm and create a special tax. i am sure there are smarter minds than mine that can curcumvent the "rights" that will be clammored for to prevent this. the claim will be we are "singled out" so i clamor bach "its ok for me to be "singled out" ". i know mto drink / eat our local products costs more to begin with its quality more than justifies the cost . adding a tax on the retail operation (property) would not change the amount being sold.
forward thinking March 22, 2012 at 11:46 AM
do not tax the product as it is a cash business and taxes are avoided. there were many farms started in the era from 1850 to 1950 that prospered without subsidity and had farm stands. they are mostly gone with the subsidity because land is more precious than produce per acre. like oil / gas import these items and make others rich or use our own and make us rich.
Ron Goerler March 23, 2012 at 10:53 AM
It is hard to believe that people actualy think that farms dont pay tax's.We pay are fair share of tax's,wine is the only agricultural product taxed twice at both the state and federal level.Are retail sections are already carved out and we pay the same rate as everybody else if you dont believe this you can pay my tax's for me in January and June.
Erin Schultz (Editor) March 23, 2012 at 05:10 PM
James Silver said on Facebook: "Oh no! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together!"

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