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New York Wineries Branching Out Under New Law

If you didn’t partake in the toast that New York wineries made at the end of July when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed bill S4143A into law, perhaps now is the time. The bill, known as the Fine Winery Bill, made a number of revisions to the state’s alcoholic beverage code regarding wineries and farm wineries. A number of the revisions to the law were originally suggested by the industry member group the New York State Grape Task Force in a 2008 report to the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets. Below is a brief outline of the legal changes:

Branch Offices

The licensing process for up to five branch offices of a farm winery was simplified through the elimination of separate licenses for each branch. Perhaps more importantly, the privileges of the branch offices now mirror those of the farm winery, as opposed to those of an off-premise retailer as was previously the case.

Custom Crush

Farm wineries also gained the legal authority to perform custom crush services. The individual requesting a custom crush must be present during the entire production process and purchase the final wine product.

Charitable Events

Wineries can now obtain an annual permit allowing them to participate in events sponsored by charitable organizations. Previously, participation in a maximum of five events was allowed and the licensing process was more arduous.

Other Events & Tastings

Wineries may now charge for use of their premises and for wine tastings.

Reporting

Farm wineries can now maintain interstate shipping reports on their premises and present them when requested by the State Liquor Authority as opposed to filing those reports semiannually with the State Liquor Authority, thereby reducing reporting expenses.

Elimination of Redundant Licensing

Farm wineries that produce less than 1,500 gallons of wine annually are no longer required to apply for a micro-winery license in addition to their farm winery license.

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