Summer Tourism: Tis the Season

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay

The state has gone retro. New York has reignited its “I LOVE NY” tourism slogan. This most successful campaign gave New York a positive image for residents here and outside our boundaries in the 1980s. I’m glad it’s back. No slogan before or since proved to be as catchy or winning as this one with the red heart at its center.

If you haven’t gone to the site in a while, I encourage you to visit. This site features all the graphics and photography iPads and computers can handle, with colorful maps, directions to destinations, travel guides, itineraries, deal finders, and accommodations outlined for the major regions of our state.

I love seeing our attributes outlined on this site. It is not only good for businesses and those who are considering locating here, it’s good for our self-image. Most importantly, it’s good for the tourism industry. Antiques, parks, Niagara Falls, snowmobiling, ATV trails, hiking, beaches, camping, fresh water lakes and performing arts are only a few of the 100 clickable links listed under the “reasons to Love NY” section.

When you click on reasons to love New York, a picture of two glasses of wine with a vineyard behind them greets the visitor. It’s no secret: wine is a big draw for our state. Today, more than 5 million tourists visit New York wineries annually. We’re ranked number 3 in the nation, according to the New York Wine and Grape Foundation. The New York wine and grape industry has a $3.76 billion economic impact from the production of wine and grapes grown on nearly 1,400 vineyards statewide. Since the passage of the Farm Winery Law in 1976, the number of New York’s farm wineries has grown from under 20 to nearly 306 today.

The five major wine producing regions in the state are the Finger Lakes, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, Lake Erie and the Niagara Escarpment, however there are wineries in 51 of New York’s 62 counties. Lake Ontario, as well as the Thousand Island boasts wine trails as well. Wine production has increased more than 50 percent in the last 20 years to nearly 200 million bottles annually. The sale of New York wines account for $420 million a year. It is expected these numbers will only improve.

Legislation to increase wineries, wine sales
Legislation passed unanimously this year that will help boost wine sales. The Alcohol and Beverage Control Law was streamlined, making it easier for new licensees and farm wineries to apply. It also enables wineries to operate up to five branch stores without obtaining separate licenses. These stores would be considered extensions of the farm winery, not separate entities. Also, the new law removes the stipulation that wineries that produce less than 1,500 gallons obtain a micro-winery license. New York wineries celebrated being able to ship directly to consumers in other states in 2005, however, layers of bureaucracy made this difficult for wineries because they needed to produce an extensive report. The report has been simplified. This was signed into law by the Governor on July 22.

This is the kind of legislation our businesses are asking for. This law was a result of a task force managed through the New York State Ag Department in 2008 which sought ways to bolster wine sales for wineries. I’m pleased to see this come to fruition.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185. You may also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.