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New wine laws to promote upstate producers

Kate O'Connell/Innovation Trail

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration is continuing its program for promoting upstate produce with new legislation that aims to support the marketing of New York wines. The new laws permit wine to be sold at roadside farm stands and expand wine trail designations along state roadways.

People can already buy New York wines at farmers markets, but the new laws mean you’ll be able to find them at roadside stands too. That is, as long as the wines being sold are produced within 20 miles of the stand.

Brad Rickard, an expert in horticulture economics at Cornell University, says the overall economic impact of the new legislation is likely to be minor. But he says it could still be good news for small-scale producers.

“It’s not going to lead to a 50 percent increase in sales, but it may be important, it might be very important for some of the small wineries that happen to be located within 20 miles of a very popular farm stand," Rickard said. "It would give them an opportunity to bring their wines in front of more people.”

Rickard says the sale of wine at roadside stands might generate concerns about drunk driving, but the new legislation prohibits tastings at these stalls.

And, he says producers along wine trails are traditionally very conscious of ensuring visitors have a designated driver.

Additionally, Rickard says wine isn’t often linked with incidents of DWI.

“There’s research out there that shows that wine really isn’t the alcoholic beverage that is linked to drinking and driving," Rickard said. "A lot of the drunk driving incidents are related to the consumption of beer and spirits.”

Rickard says the expansion of wine trail designations is likely to help boost tourism in the upstate wine region by linking local wineries together and helping to increase their exposure.

"Ideally you want to try to attract new consumers, you want to have new people exposed to New York wines," Rickard said. "And I think this legislation has the capacity to do that. But it certainly will also bring in people who are already familiar with New York state wines.”

WXXI/Finger Lakes Reporter for the Innovation Trail