Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

November 14, 2007

Commissioner Announces Creation of Wine Grape Task Force

Task Force to Address Regulations, Research and Promotion of State’s Wine Industry

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced the creation and members of the New York State Wine Grape Task Force. The Task Force will be charged with examining the needs of the wine grape sector and identifying any programmatic and regulatory measures necessary in order to enhance the vitality of New York State’s wine grape industry.

"Grape growers in New York State are not only adding value to a commodity, they are adding value to this State," the Commissioner said. "By providing jobs, maintaining scenic vistas, enhancing tourism and generating revenue, the wine industry is an important sector to examine, learn from and assist further if possible. The Governor has recognized the wine industry’s vital role in the greater good of New York State and I look forward to hearing the recommendations from the Task Force on how we can make it even better."

The Commisisoner appointed fifteen leaders from the State’s wine grape industry to serve on the Wine Grape Task Force. Kareem Massoud of Paumonok Vineyards on Long Island has agreed to chair the Task Force. In addition to Massoud, the following are the Commissioner’s appointments:

- Jim Bedient of the New York State Wine Grape Growers Inc.

- Margo Sue Bittner, The Winery at Marjim Manor

- David Bova of Millbrook Winery

- Jim Finkle of Constellation Wines

- Joe Gergela of Long Island Farm Bureau

- Frederick Johnson of Johnson Estate Winery

- Robert Kern of Martha Clara Vineyards

- John Martini of Anthony Road Wine Company

- Scott Osborn of Fox Run Vineyards

- Larry Perrine of Channing Daughters Winery

- Gene Pierce of Glenora Wine Cellars

- Julie Suarez of New York Farm Bureau

- Jim Trezise of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation

- Mike VonHeckler of Warm Lake Estates

Chair of the Wine Grape Task Force, Kareem Massoud of Paumonok Vineyards, said, "I am pleased to see the creation of this task force that will bring together much experience and expertise in the wine industry. This group will allow us to assess our current situation and provide the Commissioner with recommendations that will aid in the growth and prosperity of New York’s wine industry. I look forward to leading the Task Force as we collectively work to enhance New York’s wine industry as a whole."

Members of the Task Force will meet several times over the course of the next year to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing New York’s wine industry. Specifically, the Task Force will identify action items that will enhance the marketing and promotion of New York wines, address regulatory requirements of the various state agencies that oversee wineries, including the State Liquor Authority, and will discuss opportunities to enhance viticulture and enology research taking place in the State.

The first meeting of the Wine Grape Task Force is scheduled to take place Tuesday, November 20, 2007 at the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ office in Albany.

New York State’s wine, grapes and grape juice industries have a $3.3 billion economic impact each year, and support 36,000 jobs. New York is the nation’s third largest grape and wine producer. There are five major wine producing regions in the State: the Finger Lakes, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, Lake Erie and the Niagara Escarpment.

There are nearly 250 wineries in the State, over half of which were established in the last 20 years. Wine production has increased more than 50 percent in the last 20 years to nearly 200 million bottles annually. New York winery sales account for $420 million a year and more than 4 million tourist visit wineries annually.

2007 Press Releases