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

March 16, 2010

Commissioner: “Convenience Is Choice. Bring Home The Wine.”

Encourages Consumers to Ask Legislators to Support the Sale of Wine in Grocery Stores

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced a new consumer choice campaign, called “Convenience is Choice.  Bring Home the Wine.”  This campaign supports Governor Paterson’s proposal to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores.  The Governor’s proposal would provide significant benefits to New York wineries, and give consumers the choice and convenience of purchasing a bottle of wine when shopping for their dinner. 

“Today’s consumers want to pair food with wine both on the table and where they shop,” the Commissioner said.  “New York is a power house when it comes to producing high quality food and wine. In fact, we are a national leader in many categories, including dairy, fruits, vegetables and wine.  It is about time that New York joins the millions of other Americans who can shop for both food and wine under one roof.  Convenience is a choice that our consumers and wine drinkers deserve.  It’s time to throw out the Prohibition Era rules and give New Yorkers the same convenience consumers in 35 other states already enjoy – the ability to purchase wine in grocery stores.”  

New York has burgeoning wine industry.  New York is a significant grape producing region in the United States.  We have the ideal climate, rich soils and adequate water sources to support our 277 wineries, 1,400 grape growers and 37,000 acres of grapes.  In fact, New York could grow more with the passage of this proposal.  By allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores, New York has the potential to grow its wine and grape industry 20 percent with the potential for $150 million in new wine sales. 

President of New York Farm Bureau, Dean Norton, said, “Grocers are increasingly turning to local products during the season, and have always purchased New York grown milk and dairy products.  New York Farm Bureau, the largest farm organization in the state, is looking forward to the ability to sell New York produced wine in the same stores that showcase locally grown foods from our farm families.  It’s a critical opportunity for our grape farmers to sell more locally grown wine grapes to locally owned farm wineries, ensuring that family farms stay in business in New York.” 

Wine completes the menu.  The “buy local” food movement has positively and significantly influenced the buying habits of consumers, bringing to light the real health and economic benefits of buying and consuming local food.  As this trend progresses and more and more consumers take time to seek out and use local products in their meals, New York State wine is a natural compliment.  Co-locating local food and local wine in grocery stores throughout the state would not only be convenient for consumers, but has the potential to be a serious economic boon for New York agriculture.

James Rogers, President and CEO of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, said, “Local grocery stores have had great success partnering with local farms to sell local produce.  By modernizing New York’s laws we can duplicate that success with wine.”

Other states allow it.  Offering wine in grocery stores is a no-brainer to many.  In fact, 35 states already allow it, and four out of five Americans currently have the luxury of picking up a bottle of wine for dinner when shopping for their meal.  In New York, the situation is dramatically different.  There are 570 municipalities in New York that have a grocery store, but no liquor store at which to purchase wine.  And of the 2,500 licensed liquor stores, only 300 carry locally produced, New York State wine. If this proposal is approved in New York, the number of outlets allowed to sell wine could increase ten-fold from 2,500 to over 20,000 stores.

Consumers agree.  According to two recent polls, New Yorkers from every part of the state and every ideological group, support the Governor’s proposal to allow wine to be sold in grocery stores.  The Siena Poll found support for the proposal by a 19 point gap (58-39).   Similarly, a poll commissioned by Kiley and company found the majority of voters (6 in 10) favor the proposal, and specifically favor changing the state’s outdated liquor laws to allow wine sales in grocery stores.

Revenue would be critical during fiscal crisis.  Allowing the sale of wine in grocery stores will provide the state with more than $300 million in revenue over the next two years. These funds will be dedicated to preventing deeper cuts to health care programs, at a time when New York must close an over $9 billion budget deficit.

New York makes 180 million bottles of wine annually and only has 2,500 outlets to sell their product.  Likewise, New York has 19 million consumers and only 2,500 outlets from which to purchase wine.  This proposal is the right thing to do at the right time.  Support allowing the sale of wine in grocery stores.  


2010 Press Releases