By Senator Patty Ritchie
As you make the rounds to visit friends and family members this holiday season, there’s a good chance that New York State wines will be a part of the celebration.
2012 has been a banner year for New York State Wines. We’ve seen it right here in our own backyards, new wineries opening their doors and inviting thirsty wine aficionados to “Uncork New York.”
According to an annual report recently released by the New York State Wine and Grape Foundation, the New York State Liquor Authority issued 17 licenses for new wineries in 2012, bringing the state’s total number to 328. Today, 55 of New York’s 62 counties are home to wine producers.
To find a winery near you, visit www.newyorkwines.org
Many of those wineries crafted award winning products, which took home a record number of top medals in competitions across the globe. New York State wines also scored well in rankings compiled by the three major wine magazines published in the U.S.
The wine industry’s brisk growth is thanks in part to a number of new initiatives in New York State.
In October, I had the chance to attend Governor Cuomo’s Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit in Albany. There, I joined the governor, state leaders and dozens of winemakers, craft brewers and small batch distillers in discussions on legislative and regulatory issues affecting the industry.
The Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit set our state on the right track for further expansion of these industries, with the governor outlining new promotional and marketing efforts, new resources for producers and regulatory reforms to help make doing business easier.
Our wine, beer, and spirits producers have a very significant, positive impact on New York’s economy, generating more than $22 billion annually, supporting tens of thousands of jobs and providing a boost to our agriculture industry.
This past year, I had the chance to show my support for the industry by sponsoring legislation, which was signed into law by Governor Cuomo, that recognizes “Farm Breweries” and cuts taxes and red tape to help create jobs and give New York an edge in these growing industries.
The support for our wine, beer and spirits industry doesn’t stop there. Recently, Governor Cuomo announced $1 million in federal funding to enhance the competitiveness of New York’s agricultural products.
Included in the $1 million is $200,000 in research and development funding to support the growth of New York State’s beverage industry.
While most people lamented the extreme weather of the past year, the unusually high temperatures boded well for wineries. According to experts, the warm, dry summer produced smaller, more flavorful wine grapes. For wine lovers, the best is yet to come, white wines made with grapes grown in 2012 will be released next summer and reds may not be released until 2014 or later.
This holiday season, I encourage you enjoy not only New York wines, but also the many other locally made products (New York State cheese is a favorite of mine!) that are special to the Empire State.
If you do decide to celebrate with New York State wines, I ask you to do so safely, don’t overindulge. And, always have a designated driver.
Best wishes for a safe, and happy holiday season!