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

December 10, 2008

Commissioner Receives Wine Grape Task Force Report

Report Addresses 26 Recommendations to Help Grow the Wine Grape Industry

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today received the Wine Grape Task Force’s Final Report, which includes 26 recommendations. The Task Force was created in November 2007 to examine the needs of the wine grape sector and to identify any programmatic and regulatory measures necessary in order to enhance the vitality of New York State’s wine grape industry.

"The growing of grapes and the making of wine are important components of the agricultural industry in New York State," the Commissioner said. "The value-added product they produce and the ripple effect it has to our communities and economy is what we need to learn from, duplicate and continue. I greatly appreciate the time the Task Force put forth into this document and look forward to addressing their recommendations as we work together to further the growth and prosperity of New York’s evolving wine industry."

The New York State Wine Grape Task Force, charged with examining the needs of the wine grape sector and identifying any programmatic and regulatory measures necessary to enhance the vitality of New York State’s wine grape industry, is a group of 15 leaders from the State’s wine grape industry and represent all grape growing regions of the State.

Kareem Massoud of Paumonok Vineyards on Long Island and Chair of the Task Force said, "With U.S. wine consumption records setting new highs year after year, this is a propitious time to enact reforms that will level the playing field on which we compete with other states and other countries and enable our New York State wine industry to flourish. On behalf of the Task Force, we are pleased to present Commissioner Hooker this report, which contains numerous recommendations we believe will help us grow our industry."

With the goal of doubling its economic impact to New York State in five years, the 15 member task force identified four priority action areas. Each priority action area has an objective and recommendations for the Commissioner with the intent to guide the core activities of state government and further advance the business activities of New York wineries. Below are the four priority action areas and a sampling of the 26 recommendations made by the Task Force.

State Liquor Authority

The State Liquor Authority regulates the alcoholic beverage industry, but often does not adequately consider the specific needs of wine growers and producers as agricultural and agribusiness enterprises. There is a need for reform of the Authority’s regulations and statutes to better serve the needs of New York’s wine industry, while still protecting the greater public interest with a soundly regulated alcoholic beverage industry. Recommendations include removing off-premises requirements for satellite stores and enabling farm wineries to provide a "custom crush" service under existing licenses.

Environment and Sustainability

Viticulture is intimately tied to the environment. However, environmental regulations can impede viticulture’s growth and prosperity. The goal is to assure that the industry’s impact upon the environment is minimized, while recognizing its benefits upon the environment. The Task Force recommends better defining the industry’s wastewater treatment needs and develop regulatory options with consideration of volume, composition and seasonality.

Wine Promotion and Marketing

New York wines could benefit dramatically from improvements in marketing. Better awareness and availability of New York wines would raise the industry’s profile and better serve to New York wines’ visibility and demand. One recommendation is to work with Empire State Development to include wineries as part of the "I Love New York" campaign, encouraging participation in travel promotions, special events, media stories and advertisements.

Economic Development

The wine and grape industry is poised to enter a period of tremendous growth, but depends upon widespread commitment. Access to capital and government programs, trained labor and regulatory reform all are important components to a successful wine industry. Ensuring that guidelines developed for the upstate revitalization funds address the needs of the wine and grape industry, in particular the Manufacturing Assistance Program, is one of the Task Force’s recommendations.

A complete copy of the New York State Wine Grape Task Force’s Final Report, including all of its 26 recommendations, can be found on the Department’s website at

The New York wine and grape industry has a $6 billion economic impact, of which $3.4 billion originates with New York produced wines 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 twenty to nearly 250 today.

Wine production has increased more than 50 percent in the last 20 years to nearly 200 million bottles annually. New York is now the third largest wine producing state in the country, behind California, and recently Washington. The sale of New York wines account for $420 million a year.

Today, more than 4 million tourist visit New York wineries annually. The five major wine producing regions in the State are the Finger Lakes, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, Lake Erie and the Niagara Escarpment.

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