Roadside farm stands will be able to sell wines from up to two licensed farm wineries within 20 miles of the stand according to new law.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed a new law allowing locally produced wine to be sold at roadside farm markets as part of the state’s effort to better market and promote New York wine.

“These new laws will build on our continuing efforts to promote New York’s wine industry across the state and beyond, boosting tourism, local economies and job growth,” Cuomo said. “We are increasing market opportunities for local producers and farmers and expanding our wine trails to attract tourists to communities across Upstate New York. Our state is home to hundreds of wineries that produce some of the best wine in the world, and we want both New Yorkers and visitors to come and enjoy them.”

The farm markets legislation (S.267/A.1512) states that the NYS Liquor Authority will license roadside farm markets to sell wine manufactured and produced by up to two licensed farm wineries, special wineries, or micro-wineries located within 20 miles of the roadside farm market.

Indian Pines Farm Market owner Lonnie Jones says he has already been contacted by two wineries hoping to have their products at his business on Elm Street in Penn Yan. He adds that he’s very interested, but wants to know more about the administrative hurdles he’ll have to cross before he commits to the idea.

Crystal and Alan Tomion of Tomion’s Farm Market on state Rte. 14A in Benton have a similar view. They had once investigated adding a wineshop to their market, but the regulations and restrictions would have required too much remodeling, including a separate retail space, entrance, and cash registers. If this licensing process is much less restrictive, as it is said to be, then the Tomions are also very interested. “I don’t know a lot about wines, so we’ll have to do some investigation of the wineries,” says Alan. “If it looks like we can do it without jumping through a lot of hoops, absolutely,” adds Crystal.

Phil Riehl of Oak Hill, which is also a licensed farm stand, says he doesn’t think this will be something he will pursue at the present, and believes most of his fellow Mennonite farm stand owners would not be interested. “Our culture actually discourages casual drinking,” say both Howard Hoover of Milo and Ivan Martin of Benton, spokesmen of the Mennonite community. “We do use it ceremonially for communion and at weddings,” says Hoover, “but I don’t believe we will be selling wine at our farm stands,” and Martin concurs.

New York Wine & Grape Foundation President Jim Trezise says his organization is “Very happy. This is a new opportunity for wineries and farm stands, provides more convenience for consumers, and emphasizes the local nature of the wine industry.”
The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Tom O’Mara who says, “This is a great opportunity for those in the agricultural community to enhance their business.”

While the licensing procedures remain to be seen, O’Mara says his office has provided assistance to local businesses in dealing with the State Liquor Authority in the past, and will continue to do so for farm stands. “I hope they will get involved early in the process and take advantage of it,”  he says.

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano calls it “Another positive step in the right direction, getting more of our products out to more people, and opening up business opportunities for local farms and wineries.”

New York is home to nearly 500 wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries. Producers account for more than $22 billion in annual total economic impact in the state and support tens of thousands of jobs statewide. The state ranks third in the nation in wine and grape production, has the second-most distilleries, and three of the top-producing 20 brewers in the United States are located in New York.

This August, Cuomo hosted the Governor’s Cup and wine tour along Seneca Lake’s west side in Yates and Schuyler Counties, which brought together leading wine industry professionals, restaurateurs and tourism officials to promote the state’s award-winning wines. After presenting the Governor’s Cup to Penn Yan’s Keuka Spring Winery at an event in Watkins Glen, the Governor launched a television ad campaign to help promote New York State wines and encourage the purchase of locally produced wine and products through the Taste NY initiative.