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07/20/18 6:04am
07/20/2018 6:04 AM

A new law passed by state lawmakers could bring radical change to how alcohol tastings are served on the North Fork.

In a bill passed by both the State Assembly and Senate on their last day of session June 20, changes would be made to the tax law as it relates to wine, beer, cider and liquor products.  READ

10/03/13 9:16am
10/03/2013 9:16 AM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Farm Stands like Hallocks Cider Mill in Laurel will soon be able to sell local wine.

Wine lovers will soon be able to pick up a bottle of local vino at their nearest farm stand.

Continuing his push to promote New York State vineyards Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed new legislation permitting the sale of wine at roadside farm markets.

“These new laws will build on our continuing efforts to promote New York’s wine industry across the state and beyond, boosting tourism, local economies and job growth,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement.

Mr. Cuomo signed bills last Friday allowing farm stands to sell local wines and creating several new wine trails in upstate New York. They go into effect March 31, 2014.

On the North Fork, which already boasts an established wine trail, the farm markets law allows for sale of wine that is manufactured and produced by up to two licensed farm wineries, special wineries or micro-wineries located within 20 miles of the roadside farm stands, according to the law.

While in 2009 the mere mention of allowing wine sales at supermarkets had liquor store owners furious and scared for their livelihoods, the new law is not drawing the same amount of criticism.

Jim Silver, general manager of Empire State Cellars in Riverhead, said he doesn’t think allowing farm stands to sell local wine would have a negative impact on his business.

“The seasonality of farm stands is so limited that I don’t think it will have an impact,” he said, adding that farm stands are restricted to carrying only two brands of wine and that climate control might cause a storage issue for farmers. “Do I think it’s a good a idea? Yes. Do I think it’s a great idea? No.”

Steve Bate, the Wine Council executive director, believes the law will have a positive impact on the local economy.

“I think it provides a terrific new opportunity for wineries and farm stands to work together to promote the sale of local products,” he said. “This is just the latest example that Governor Cuomo really understands and appreciates the importance of agriculture and agritourism to our state’s economy.”

Mr. Cuomo has spearheaded several initiatives to bolster the wine industry.

In July 2012, the governor signed legislation designed to support New York’s breweries and wineries, as well as increase demand for locally grown farm products and expand industry-related economic development and tourism.

The Empire state is home to nearly 500 wineries, breweries, distilleries and cider mills that account for more than $22 billion in annual total economic impact in the state and support tens of thousands of jobs statewide, the governor’s office said.

The state ranks third in the nation in wine and grape production, has the second-most distilleries and three of the top-producing 20 brewers in the nation, Mr. Cuomo said.

The 2013-14 state budget introduced several new initiatives to help improve the marketing of New York State-produced products, including a total of $7 million for Market New York and Taste NY to support a multifaceted regional marketing plan that will promote regional tourism and New York-produced goods and products.

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08/19/13 8:00am
08/19/2013 8:00 AM


The North Fork wine trail attracts thousands of visitors each weekend. With dozens of vineyards to choose from, getting to each one – especially after the bottles have been uncorked – takes planning.

To help take the guess work out and get people to their destination safely, the East End Tourism Alliance and North Fork Promotion Council are launching a pilot shuttle bus service to connect wineries this Veterans Day Weekend.

The pilot program is being made possible through a portion of a  “I Love NY” $300,000 grant, aiming to help promote agritourism in Suffolk County, according to Steven Bate, executive director of the Long Island Wine Council.

“The real transformative part of the project is to test out the feasibility of a free shuttle bus to facilitate tourist access for the huge New York metro population without their own cars,” he said.

The buses, which will be provided by Hampton Jitney, will run in a loop between Riverhead and Greenport. There will also be feeder buses from the Orient Point ferry and Long Island Rail Road. Stops will be made at each location approximately every 45 minutes during business hours, Mr. Bate said.

The groups behind the shuttle are currently planning a ‘Taste North Fork” festival to coincide with the pilot program on Veterans Day weekend. The three-day event will feature a full range of activities celebrating local wines and foods across the region, Mr. Bate said. Wineries, as well as local breweries and distilleries, will be invited to offer special tasting menus paired with foods from local restaurants.

Joan Bischoff of the North Fork Promotional Council said that he hopes the shuttle program can continue next year for the entire summer season.

The organizations are also now working with the towns on finalizing the exact shuttle route.

“We are very excited about this opportunity and very grateful to I Love NY for giving us the seed capital to launch what we hope will become an annual event that provides a significant seasonal boost to our local economy,” Mr. Bate said.

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