Online survey questions elimination of state funding for Wine & Grape Foundation

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

With just two weeks to go until the April 1 deadline to have a new state budget in place, State Sen. George Winner continues to encourage local reaction to a proposal by Gov. David Paterson to eliminate state funding for the New York Wine & Grape Foundation.

As part of that effort, Winner is giving residents of his 53rd Senate District the opportunity to share their opinion on Paterson’s plan through a new “Quick Poll” currently available on his Web site,

www.senatorwinner.com.

In his 2009-2010 proposed state budget, the governor calls for eliminating $2.8 million in state funding the Foundation received last year.  Winner, one of the Legislature’s most vocal and long-standing wine industry advocates, is strongly opposed to Paterson’s plan and has been

urging state leaders to reject it.

“I haven’t heard Governor Paterson or the leaders of the Assembly or Senate take this plan off the negotiating table,” said Winner.  “So it’s still alive and that’s troubling.  Our region recognizes the importance of the wine industry to the Finger Lakes economy, as well as the key role the Foundation has played in the industry’s success, but we still need to raise our voices against this ill-timed and ill-advised proposal.  To save a few million dollars, Governor Paterson’s plan hurts a wine-and-grape industry that generates billions of dollars in economic activity and supports

thousands of meaningful livelihoods.”

To participate in Winner’s online poll, visit www.senatorwinner.com and answer the following question at the bottom of the home page, “Do you agree with Governor Paterson’s proposal to eliminate state funding for the New York State Wine and Grape Foundation?”

State legislators, including Winner, created the Foundation in 1985 at a time when New York’s wine-and-grape industry was on the brink of collapse. Since then the Foundation has been the driving force behind the marketing, promotion, and research that has led to the industry’s

resurgence.

New York is now America’s third-largest wine producing state, with more than 250 wineries statewide. Nearly 200 of these wineries were established after the Foundation’s creation. The industry employs 18,000 workers and annually generates $3.4 billion for the state economy. Over

three million people visit the state’s wineries every year. One-third of these visitors come from out of state