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New York Wine Trail, Roadside Sales Approved By Governor

Sales of wine in Northern New York are expected to get a jolt, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law that green-lighted the purchase of wines along wine trails and roadside farmer’s markets.

Our New York liquor license attorneys know that the bill was part of a larger package of legislation that also includes the extension of wine trails snaking throughout the state. The measure allows every authorized and licensed roadside farm market to sell products from a maximum of two wineries within a 20-mile stretch.

The law formally goes into effect next spring. Roadside farm retailers hoping to participate required to file an application with the state Liquor Authority for a $100 license. In previous years, qualifying roadside vendors had to obtain a second liquor license if they wanted to sell wine.

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, was quoted as saying that was a burdensome and unnecessary step for most locations, primarily because they also had to meet stricter standards, as set forth by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. One of those involved the requirement to have several other types of agricultural business licenses if they wanted to sell wine. Russell called those requirements “illogical,” and said this new measure eliminates some of the more cumbersome hoops that vendors were made to jump through.

Already, legislators throughout the northern part of the state are exploring what obstacles now exist – if any — to broadening the sales of locally-produced wines and wine products. That includes not only in farmer’s markets and wine trails but also in restaurants.

Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said the demand for locally-produced goods at farmer’s markets has grown exponentially in recent years. Wines are no exception.

Those who own local wineries say that opening such doors is the first step in unrolling the welcome mat. There is more that can be done. For example, while the wine is available to be sold at those roadside locations, it’s still not legal for farmer’s market vendors to serve those wines. That means customers must make a leap of faith in their purchase, without the freedom to first taste the product.

One vendor noted that while most people know what an ear of corn or fresh tomatoes taste like, the contents of a wine bottle are much more nuanced. Allowing people the opportunity to “try before you buy” could elevate sales even further – and lead to happier customers.

The new package of laws include A2024A, which redesignates the Niagara Escarpment Wine Trail and the Niagara Wine Trail as Niagara Wine Trail Ridge and Niagara Wine Trail Lake. Then there is A4641A, which expands parts of the state highway system that is designated as the “Shawangunk East Wine Trail.” And then S267 allows for the farmer’s market roadside sale of wine from up to two micro-wineries.

New York recently reached No. 2 in state wine product, and the quality of these wines has been steadily improving annually, as growers and producers continue to perfect their product. For a long time, New York City wine sales were dominated by international wines. We’re seeing a marked shift with a number of local vino-friendly bills such as these.

Those interested in applying for a roadside winery license with the right to sell at  roadside should also confer with an experienced state liquor license attorney, who can help ensure the entire operation is on solid legal footing.

The Wright Law Firm is a business law firm located in Midtown Manhattan. Call (212) 619-1500 for a confidential consultation.

Additional Resources:

Local State Representatives, Wineries Optimistic About Roadside Wine Bill, Oct. 10, 2013, By Timothy W. Scee II,


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