Cuomo says NY will boost beer, wine, liquor sales

10/24/2012 2:45 PM
By Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo said state government will put the promotion of beer, wine and liquor made in New York "on steroids" to boost jobs and help the small, yet growing industries.

Cuomo met with farmers, orchard growers, beer breweries and distillers of whisky, vodka, brandy and vermouth Wednesday in Albany for a "Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit." The infomercial type of format included mostly thanks and agreement on the need to promote the industries, as well as a few specific proposals, plans and actions.

"However we can do it big, we're in," Cuomo said. "We'll take the efforts of the past ... and put them on steroids."

After the two-hour summit, Cuomo announced several measures, a number of which will require the Legislature's approval. They include promoting New York wine, beer, whisky and brandy at the State Fair. Beer and wine sellers complained that New York products were overshadowed. Cuomo agreed the State Fair's mission is to promote state products.

There is a plan to urge the New York Racing Association board, temporarily under the control of the appointees of the governor and Legislature, to promote New York alcoholic products at the Saratoga Race Course's summer meet. An international venue is also planned, along with easing laws and regulations for growers and manufacturers for "wine trail" tourist attractions. Other measures include:

—Devote $1 million in TV tourism ads promoting New York wines, with up to another $2 million in state money tied to the industry's matching funds.

—Using a public relations firms already handling state tourism ads to intensely target New York City restaurants to sell and promote New York products.

—Work with top chefs and the Food Network based in New York City to promote the products, although Cuomo said his girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee, isn't part of those plans.

Several of the 75 wineries and breweries opposed to the proposed drilling for gas deep in a potentially lucrative and job-producing shale deposit upstate said the summit missed the point. The Cuomo administration is studying whether the process called hydrofracking can be done safety.

"Not only are the vineyards above the Marcellus Shale, and therefore are vulnerable to the harmful effects of fracking, but gas storage and transport just north of Watkins Glen threatens to contaminate the water, destroy the country roads, and ravage the beautiful landscapes needed to make sure the wine and beer industry thrives in New York," said Jennifer Clark from Eminence Winery after the summit.

Cuomo said the topic wasn't fracking, but on promotion, although he said none of the participants were prohibited from raising the heated topic.

A similar summit on Greek-style yogurt this summer resulted in the easing of some environmental protection restrictions on dairy farms. New York dairy farmers hope to get a bigger piece of that growing field.

"It worked with yogurt, I think it will work extraordinarily well in this industry," Cuomo said Wednesday.


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