Saturday, June 24, 2017

Warren-Washington beverage trail awaits Cuomo's signature

If Governor Andrew Cuomo approves, as expected, a bill that passed both house of the State Leguislature before recess, a regional craft beverage and winemaking trail for Warren and Washington counties would be designarrated under a state Department of Transportation (DOT) program.

The Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce worked with State Sen. Elizabeth Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) on the  bill that each introduced in their respective chambers. What it would entail is placing signs along state roadways directing motorists to craft breweries, wineries and distilleries, as well as including such a trail in the state's advertising and marketing of the craft beverage industry.

The effort was buoyed by Travelocity and The American Distilling Institute recently putting the Glens Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area in its new index of top 10 small U.S. metro areas for craft spirits tourism.
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bill would make NYS beverage tastings fully sales-tax-exempt

A bill passed by both houses of the State Legislature has been sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo to give licensed breweries, distilleries, and cideries the same sales tax exemption for tastings that wineries now have.

The bill would allow the exemption even if vendors he state Senate and Assembly have passed a bill charge for the tasting. Under current law, any wine, beer, cider, or liquor tasting that is provided free of charge is exempt from having to impose the state sales and use tax. However, wineries are granted a sales tax exemption even if they charge for the tasting.

“As the number of breweries and distilleries increases across New York, including many farm-based operations, we must ensure that we provide a level playing field for those in the industry,” said Erie County Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I). “Right now, these businesses don’t enjoy the same sales tax benefits provided to wineries. That’s not fair to them or their customers.”
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Monday, June 19, 2017

At Cornell, big, fat new Concord grape seeking a name

A new breed in search of a name. (Cornell photo)
• From the Cornell Chronicle


Big on flavor, aroma and size, Cornell University’s newest grape lacks one defining feature: a name.

Grape breeder Bruce Reisch spent years developing the grape, and now he’s offering the public the chance to name it. Currently dubbed NY98.0228.02, the grape is a seedless, flavorful berry with the attractive blue coloring of a Concord at nearly double the size. Reisch, professor of grapevine breeding and genetics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said the new variety is well adapted to the Northeast, with good cold-tolerance for most of the Eastern states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey.

“This grape is the first truly seedless Concord-type and has naturally large, attractive berries,” said Reisch. The Concord has long been an American favorite, known best for its use in grape juice, jellies and jams. “Our new grapes weigh 5 or 6 grams per berry, almost twice the weight of a traditional Concord,” said Reisch. “It’s pretty rare to find a grape that size, especially with such full flavor.”

Reisch hopes the contest will inspire a name as inviting as the grape. Submissions can be made online until July 31. Reisch and his collaborators at Double A Vineyards will decide on their favorites, then present the choices to the public for a final vote in September.

Go here for the full story.
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Friday, June 16, 2017

Recipe for secrecy at Niagara County Community College

Niagara Falls Culinary Center (photo provided)
An editorial from the Lockport Journal
When Niagara Falls Culinary Center opened in 2012, officials at Niagara County Community College were quick to note that not only would it be a place where students could learn about creating and serving culinary delights, it would also offer them the opportunity to receive on-the-job-training at various small businesses inside.

Those operations included Savor, a fine dining restaurant, La Patisserie, a shop offering baked goods and coffee drinks, Old Falls Street Deli, which served deli sandwiches in a casual atmosphere, and The Wine Boutique, which would offer wines from the Niagara Wine Trail and from across New York state. In addition, the center features a bookstore carrying the Barnes and Noble name.

While the establishments made perfect sense given the goal of offering a robust training atmosphere for culinary students, little, it seems, was known about how they would be operated, who would run them and, more importantly, how the income and expenses would be monitored. Well, that’s not exactly true. Some individuals in NCCC administration most certainly knew about the restaurants’ financial operations, but many others, apparently including members of the college Board of Trustees, did not.

After questions about development and oversight of the culinary center were raised over the past few months, it still is not clear just how much NCCC’s higher-ups really know and understand about those businesses.

This newspaper has attempted in recent weeks to obtain financial information pertaining to the operations of Savor and other entities within the culinary center, to no avail. A formal request made on March 8 under the state’s Freedom of Information Law was not acknowledged by the college’s public information officer for nearly two months. When the college staffer finally did acknowledge the request, she issued a denial. ... Robert Freeman, the director of New York’s Committee on Open Government whose office oversees compliance with the state open meetings and freedom of information laws, disagrees. He said there’s “no doubt” the records in question should be made available to the press and the public ... .
Go here for the full editorial.

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Imbibeable Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions. 



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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Riesling and beer event morphs into NY State Wine Festival

If you attended the last Finger Lakes Riesling & Craft Beer Festival, yes you did. The "last," that is.

The event, scheduled for the weekend of August 12-13 in Canandaigua, has been rebranded. It  now is known as the New York State Wine Festival. Among the changes:
• The emphasis will be on a variety of wines from across the state, not just Rieslings from the region.

• The craft beer element has been dropped.

• The Canandaigua City Pier no longer will be used as part of the festival venue, hosted by the adjacent New York Wine & Culinary Center.

• Wine-centric cooking demonstrations by Wine & Culinary Center chefs have been added to the schedule.
“Wine is so tightly woven into the fabric of the state and the people who live here, so this event will do more to recognize that incredible depth of passion,” said Lauren Dixon, CEO of Dixon Schwabl, which produces the event.

Tickets can be purchased in advance online. While they also will be available at the gate on the days of the festival, they will be on a cash-only basis.

The Wine & Culinary Center is located at 800 South Main Street on the lakeshore.
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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Info absent on burning question about wine ice cream

Dragonfyre slushy machine (Facebook photo)
Some time ago, I attempted to get an update on pending legislation involving the serving size of wine ice cream in New York, apparently a matter of the usual governmental nanny state restrictions. I was unable to get any information from the members of both houses of the New York State Legislature supposedly trying to amend the rules. More on that in a bit.

Apparently there are no rigid restrictions on using whiskey in another type of food, if one considers slushies actual food. The Dragonfyre Distillery in Marathon, Cortland County, today announced it will be making and selling whiskey slushies this summer.

"BREAKING NEWS! The slushy machine is here!!! ," trumpeted Dragonfyre's Facebook message. "We will be serving whiskey slushys from now on! What's your preference?
Strawberry Daiquiri
Arnold Palmers
Pina Cola da
Blueberry pomegranate
Prohibition Moon
Apple Moon
Let us know what you want, this is just the "short" list!"

Now, back to the topic of wine ice cream.

Back on March 22, I reported that "The State Senate today approved S4265, a bill introduced by Sen. Joseph Griffo (R-47), to allow a change in the portion size of wine ice cream. The current minimum container size is one pint. Griffo, the deputy senate majority whip, seeks to meet what he says is consumer demand for smaller containers of wine ice cream for weddings, fundraisers, recreational tours, etc. A companion bill that needs to be passed next is being introduced in the Assembly by William Magee (D-121), chairman of the Agriculture Committee. New York is the only state with minimum size requirements."

Since then, I have tried to find out the status of the proposal. A call to Griffo's office was unproductive because the staffer who answered my call had no idea what I was talking about, even though it is his boss's legislation. Even worse at Magee's office, where a promised return phone call has not materialized and an emailed inquiry has been ignored.

Which leads me to suspect that, even though this is a small matter in the larger universe of governance and therefore beneath the legislators' purportedly pushing it, we will see during the next election cycle some reference to this "consumer friendly" effort that both legislators suddenly will remember they have attached their names to.
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Long Island work force brain drain? Put a cork in it!

Russell Hearn chats with visitors at
Mattituck's Premium Wine Group
From Innovatelli 
Don’t whine when you can wine. That was one of the big ideas ... when a select group of educators, hospitality professionals and economic-development experts - each with a particular interest in addressing Long Island’s infamous “brain drain” –- [recently] toured several East End winemaking facilities.

Arranged by the Long Island regional office of the Workforce Development Institute, the field trip was designed to help insiders understand the workforce needs and career opportunities inherent to the Island’s burgeoning wine industry –- information they can share with students and others who might not know that hundreds of good-paying jobs are available in eastern Suffolk County right now, with hundreds more ripening on the vine.

To be sure, the tour was not focused only on low-hanging fruit. While eastern vineyards do need farmhands to harvest grapes and otherwise maintain crops -- “especially with the political climate right now,” noted one winemaker -- there are career paths aplenty in the rapidly expanding wine business, with needs ranging from HVAC mechanics to accountants to chemists, and salaries flowing well into the six-figure range.

“There are jobs here that require no degree, and jobs that require advanced degrees,” noted Workforce Development Institute Regional Director Rosalie Drago. “This industry is literally for everyone.” 
Go here for the full story.
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Study: Wine consumption may raise breast cancer risk

The only sure thing about a study is that another study will come along to refute it ... until another comes along to refute the refutation.

The latest pronouncement concerns wine and health. For years now, we've been told that some consumption  of red wines will impart good health via the chemical resveratrol they contain. Now, a study just released by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund says a daily glass or more of wine, or any other alcoholic beverage increases the chances of contracting breast cancer.

It's a fairly thorough study that reviewed  and analyzed 119 studies that used data from 12 million women worldwide. It  found that 10 grams of alcohol per day, the equivalent of one small glass of wine, beer or other alcohol, is linked to a heightened breast cancer risk of 5% for pre-menopausal and 9% for post-menopausal women.

Anne McTiernan, a cancer-prevention researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and one of the report’s lead authors, said, "This suggests there is no level of alcohol use that is completely safe in terms of breast cancer. If a woman is drinking, it would be better if she kept it to a lower amount.”

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Hudson Berkshire Wine & Food Festival this weekend

Thirty makers of wine, spirits, ciders, meads and beers from New York and Massachusetts will be featured at the 5th annual Hudson Berkshire Wine & Food Festival this weekend.

The event, sponsored by the Hudson-Berkshire Beverage Trail, will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Columbia County Fairgrounds. In addition to the beverage samplings, vendors will offer tastings and sale of cheeses, baked goods, jams, jellies and other regionally produced foods. Exhibitors and artisans will have booths, and seminars will be presented by experts from all parts of the craft beverage industry.

A one-day tasting ticket, available at the gate or online for $25, includes admission, souvenir tasting glass and unlimited wines, ciders and spirits. Non-tasting tickets are $10, and children 12 and younger are admitted free.

The fairgrounds are located at 182 Hudson Avenue, Chatham, with the festival entrance on Route 66.

The beverage vendors:
  • Adirondack Winery
  • Awestruck-Gravity Ciders
  • Brookview Station Winery
  • Cascade Mountain Winery
  • Furnace Brook Winery
  • Helderberg Meadworks
  • Hudson-Chatham Winery
  • ​Hummingbird Hills Winery
  • ​Idol Ridge Winery
  • ​Ledge Rock Hill Winery
  • ​Les Trois Emme
  • Milea Estate Vineyard
  • Montezuma Winery
  • Pazdar Winery
  • Sun Dog Cider
  • ​Tousey Winery
  • Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery
  • Whitecliff Winery
  • ​Yankee Folly Cidery
  • ​Warwick Valley - Docs Draft Cider
  • Berkshire Mt. Distillers
  • ​Blackdirt Distilling
  • Dutch's Spirits
  • Harvest Spirits
  • ​High Rock Distillery
  • Hillrock Estate Distillery
  • Hudson Valley Distillers
  • Lake George Distilling Company
  • ​Olde York Farm Distillery
  • Old Klaverack Brewery

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New alcohol study: Other studies full of flaws

From the New York Daily News
There’s no shortage of studies claiming that moderate wine drinkers have healthier hearts. Same goes for light consumption of other sorts of alcohol. But a new deep research dive into the topic basically says to put a cork in it. Investigators found little evidence to support the earlier booze-is-good-for-you findings.

That’s the takeaway of a new study in the Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs. Researchers sifted through 45 previous studies and found flaws in the methodology.
Go here for the full story.

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Imbibeable Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions. 



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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

'Bounty of the Hudson' festival coming up in June

Fans of Hudson Valley wines, or anyone looking for a first exposure to them, will find more than 20 wineries represented at the annual "Bounty of the Hudson" next month.

The rain-or-shine, festival style event is set for Saturday and Sunday, June 10-11, at the Ulster County Fairgrounds.

In addition to wine tastings, it offer samplings of fresh local produce, cheeses, honey, baked goods and foods from local restaurants.

Tickets, available online, cover a souvenir Shawangunk Wine Trail glass, sampling at each of the attending wineries' booths, and an afternoon of live music. The event, open only to persons 21 or older, will run from noon to 5 p.m. both days. A one-day tasting ticket, good for either Saturday OR Sunday, is $30 purchased in advance, plus fees. A limited number of tickets will be available at the gate for $40, including tax. A general admission ticket for designated drivers is available in advance for $10, plus fees and at the gate for $15, including fees. Each ticket is valid for one day of the event.

The Ulster County Fairgrounds is located at 249 Libertyville Road in New Paltz.
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

'Harvest East End' late-summer event already in the works

A typical sight on Long Island's East End. (photo provided)
While most of the state's wine regions are just getting out the word about their summer events, Long Island Wine Country just sent out a save-the-date reminder for its "Harvest East End" event in August.

Proceeds from the Saturday, August 5, bash hosted by Martha Clara Vineyards, say the organizers, will "support cooperative initiatives dedicated to progressing viticulture, sustainable agriculture and community relations. It will feature wine tastings, passed hors d'oeuvres, a silent auction offering "curated experience" packages, local artisanal food items available for purchase. and live music. Only those 21 or older will be admitted to .

Tickets are on sale now on two levels:

Winemaker Experience ($125) -- 2 p.m. admission. Includes exclusive meet-and-greet opportunities with Long Island winemakers, and tastings of library and reserve wines.

General Admission ($75) -- 3 p.m.

Martha Clara Vineyards is located at 660 Herricks Lane, Riverhead on Long Island's North Fork.
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Upper HV Wine Trail plans 'Wine & Cheese Weekend'

The Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail's summer season will get into high gear with a "Wine & Cheese Weekend" on Saturday and Sunday, June 10-11.

The event is an exclusive one for UHVWT Passport holders. Details on how to instantly get a passport are available online.

Each participating winery will offer three wine tastes paired with three cheese samples, the combinations varying from venue to venue. The participants:
  • Adirondack Winery 285 Canada Street, Lake George
  • Amorici Vineyard, 637 Colonel Burch Road, Valley Falls
  • Ledge Rock Hill Winery, 41 Stewart Dam Road, Corinth
  • Oliva Vineyards, Saratoga Farmers’ Market, 105 High Rock Avenue, Saratoga Springs
  • Swedish Hill Winery, 441 Broadway, Saratoga Springs
  • The Saratoga Winery 462 Route 29, Saratoga Springs
  • Thirsty Owl Outlet & Wine Garden, 184 S. Broadway, Saratoga Springs
  • Victory View Vineyard, 11975 State Route 40, Schaghticoke
The self-guided tour can begin at any of the venues, and include as many stops as desired.
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Friday, May 12, 2017

State's drinks producers being spotlighted in NYC bash

Mixologist Melissa Markert will host a VIP cocktail session. (photo provided)
The state's always-expanding push to market its wines, spirits, ciders and brews will ramp up anther notch at a New York City event on Wednesday, May 24.

The multi-level event, with separate programs for the public and the trade, is titled "TasteNewYork - A New York Craft Beverage Experience." The venue is Pier A Harbor House at 22 Battery Place in lower Manhattan. It is part of the state's TasteNY program.

Two ticket options are available for the public event: the VIP Experience beginning at 6 p.m. and general admission tickets for 6:30 p.m. admission. The VIP option will include an exclusive cocktail demonstration and tasting in the 
Commissioner's Bar with Melissa Markert of Dead Rabbit, one of New York City's currently trendiest bars. She will use local ingredients and New York craft beverages to build cocktails.

Among the beverage providers will be Saratoga Brewing, Saratoga Spring Water, and Shmaltz Brewing Company from the Capital Region.

Details of the event, the participating vendors, categories for the trade and the public, and ticket purchasing are available on the event website.
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Finger Lakes tops list of best U.S. wine regions to visit

Thrillist, the online media brand covering food, drink, travel and entertainment, convened a panel of sommeliers to pick "Best Wine Regions to Visit In the U.S." They came up with 11 of them, and tops on the list is the Finger Lakes.

Here's what Thrillist had to say:
"No. 1. Finger Lakes, NY.

Must-hit wineries: Get a history lesson at Dr. Frank's before hitting Ravines or Hermann J. Wiemer. Perhaps we spoke too soon when we named the Finger Lakes the most underrated place in New York. This southern region of the Empire State is an like an SEC football team to sommeliers (that is, a powerhouse), except it actually deserves to be in everyone's top five.

"There are a lot of up-and-coming wineries there," says [panelist Daniel] Toral, "and better restaurants keep opening, as well." In fact, since the region started blowing up a few years ago, there are now over 100 wineries in the area. And the best part? It hasn't been overtaken by tourists and developers yet so there won't be horrendous crowds to fight when you visit the famous gorges at Watkins Glen State Park in the morning, and then head to the venerable birthplace of East Coast winemaking -- Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars -- later in the day." 
You can read the evaluations of the other 10 regions by clicking here.

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Local wine to flow at Finger Lakes art fest and competition

A reception by Hazlitt's Red Cat Cellars will be among the attractions at the 6th annual Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition & Festival.

The art-centric festival will run from Tuesday, June 6, through Sunday, June 11. The wine tasting is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7. Wines will be poured from various Canandaigua Wine Trail wineries.

The festival itself, held under the auspices of the Ontario County Arts Council, will feature as many as 45 artists from across the country who have been invited to the area to paint scenes of Canandaigua and the Finger Lakes. An exhibition and sale will be held on the final day of the event at the historic site Sonnenberg Gardens.

Details of the festival are available on the event website.
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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Adirondack Wine & Food Festival vendors list unveiled

The full list of vendors for this year’s Adirondack Wine & Food Festival has just been released.

The event, to be held on the weekend of June 24-25 at the Charles R. Wood Festival Commons in Lake George Village, has sold more than 1,000 advance tickets, and a crowd of more than 6,000 is anticipated.

"This festival celebrates the bounty of amazing craft beverages and locally made foods that New York has to offer, and we’re excited to report that we will have more vendors and variety than ever before,” said Sasha Pardy, co-owner and president of the festival’s presenting sponsor, Adirondack Winery.

At this point, the vendor list has more than 80 vendors, including 23 wineries, eight distilleries, four breweries, three cideries, 23 artisan food vendors, six  specialty vendors, eight food trucks, a local restaurant and a weekend full of culinary demonstrations provided by the SUNY Adirondack culinary students.

Vendors, ticket information, and other details of the festival are available on the event website.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

North Country food and drink festival coming up

• From NorthCountryNow.com
OGDENSBURG -- The return of the much lauded Cheesecake on a Stick is one of the culinary highlights attendees at the 2017 North Country Wine, Beer and Food Festival can expect when they walk through the doors at the Lockwood Civic Center.

The festival is scheduled for 4 to 9 p.m. this Friday and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.
After more than 10 years of staging the event, drawing attendees requires evolution and change, said organizer Laura Pearson, executive director of Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce, the organization hosting the event. “We’ve tweeked it … and added new things,” said Pearson. “We keep trying to improve it. We have new vendors this year.”
Go here for the full story.
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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

New York entries rack up 9 'bests' in Pacific Rim

New York wines earned a tremendous nine "Best of Class" awards and other topm honors in the recent Pacific Rim International Wine Competition in San Bernardino, CA.

The honors went to entries from:
  • 21 Brix Winery
  • Americana Vineyards
  • Black Willow Winery
  • Coyote Moon Vineyards
  • Fulkerson Winery
  • Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars
  • Merritt Estate Winery
  • Pellegrini Vineyards
  • Penguin Bay Winery
  • Swedish Hill Winery
  • Thirsty Owl Wine Company
  • Wagner Vineyards
Go here to visit a searchable database detailing their entries and full results in all categories.

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Wagner earns 'best of' in San Diego Wine Challenge

Ann Raffetto
Ann Raffetto, the longtime winemaker at Wagner Vineyards Estate Winery and one of the few female head winemakers in the state, has racked up a few more plaudits.

Wagner's 2014 Caywood East Vineyard Riesling took "Best Dry Riesling" honors en route to being named "Best of Show White Wine" at the San Diego Wine Challenge.

The Caywood East was rated at a platinum-level 95 points by the judges. And, although not achieving "best of" status, Wagner's 2015 Dry Riesling was awarded a gold medal with a score of 91.

Raffetto has been making wine at Wagner since 1983, working with co-winemaker, John Herbert until he retired in 2013.

Wagner Vineyards Estate Winery and Wagner Valley Brewing Company are located at 9322 State Route 414 in Lodi, Seneca County. Phone: (607) 582-6450 and (866) 924-6378.


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Anthony Road entry goes gold in French competition

Anthony Road Wine Company's 2013 Art Series Riesling took a gold medal at the 20th annual Riesling Du Monde, a high-end competition held at the Palais des Congrès in Strasbourg, the capital of France's Alsace province.

The entry from the Seneca Lake winery was the only American wine to win a gold in the competition. It is a product of spontaneous fermentation, with 0.47% residual sugar. Art Series carries a suggested retail price of $28.99 for the 750ml bottle.

Anthony Road Wine Company is the outgrowth of a farm founded in 1973 by John and Ann Martini when they planted their first five acres of grapes. It is located at 1020 Anthony Road, Penn Yan, on the west side of Seneca Lake. Phone: (800) 559-2182 or (315) 536-2182.
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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Here's a new look at the 1000 Islands Craft Beverage Trail

Taste 1000 Islands: Craft Beverage Trail from Le JIT Productions on Vimeo.


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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Imbibeable Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions. 


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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A proposal for a true 'Upper Hudson Valley Beverage Trail'

A rough outline of a proposed beverage trail
When do efforts to capitalize on local pride and promotion fall short of what could be achieved by broadening one's scope? We may find out if two state lawmakers from the Greater Capital Region are successful in getting state help to promote craft beverage production in a small slice of the area.

The Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce is working with State Sen. Elizabeth Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) on just such an initiative. They would like to designate a regional craft beverage and winemaking trail for Warren and Washington counties under a state Department of Transportation (DOT) program. What it would entail is placing signs along state roadways directing motorists to craft breweries, wineries and distilleries, as well as including such a trail in the state's advertising and marketing of the craft beverage industry.

The effort is being buoyed by Travelocity and The American Distilling Institute recently putting the Glens Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area in its new index of top 10 small U.S. metro areas for craft spirits tourism.

All of which looks fine at first glance. But, at second glance the plan could be considered myopic.

The area already is covered by the Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail, a collection of  more than a dozen wineries and tasting rooms plus affiliate businesses in Warren, Washington, Saratoga and Rensselaer counties. That existing cooperative venture could become so much more with the right vision and support.

New York State has long labored under the financially redundant and often conflicting burden of having too many school districts, stand-alone fire and police departments, hamlets-within-villages-within-towns, and on and on. Perpetuating such a failed organizational model by championing such cumbersome constructs in an alcoholic beverage industry that is undergoing a boom in all categories seems quite unwise.

Consider, around the state we already have beverage trails that bump up against each other, sometimes creating some confusion when promoting cooperative events. Do we need more of that? I suggest the lawmakers might expand the scope of their current intent. Rather than simply adding another entity to the mix, they could seek DOT and state marketing assistance to go beyond the small area now being targeted and helping the Upper Hudson Wine Trail become the Upper Hudson Beverage Trail and attracting as many wineries, breweries, distillers and cideries as  possible in the true "Upper Hudson" area.

The idea is not far-fetched. Whereas New York once had just a handful of wine trails, today it has 21 -- 15 that are wineries-only, 6 that include brewers and distillers under the "beverage trail" rubrick.

Most beverage trails have partnerships with a variety of hotels, motels, resorts, restaurants, tour vehicle companies, and craft food artisans that offer enticements to tourists. Imagine the promotional clout available to a well-formed beverage trail that stretches a manageable 60-plus miles from Albany and Rensselaer counties to the south to Lake George to the north.

So, Senator Little and Assemblywoman Woerner, care to discuss?

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Monday, April 24, 2017

25th Cayuga 'Wine & Herb Festival' covers 2 weekend

Except for opening day, all 16 members of the Cayuga Wine Trail will be participating in the next two weekends' 25th annual "Wine & Herb Festival."

Each weekend, the event will open on Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. at four member wineries -- Treleaven, Long Point Winery, Montezuma Winery, and Six Mile Creek Vineyard. Then on both Saturday and Sunday they will be joined by Americana Vineyards, Bellwether Hard Cider & Wine Cellars, Buttonwood Grove Winery, Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery, Goose Watch Winery, Hosmer Winery, Knapp Winery, Lucas Vineyards, Swedish Hill Winery, Thirsty Owl Wine Company, Toro Run Winery, and Varick Winery & Vineyard.

The tour will allow home gardeners to get started on their own plots by purchasing potted herbs and vegetables that will be featured in all 16 food samples, along with the matching recipe collection. Visitors will be offered wine samples that complement that dish, and will be offered three additional wine tastings. Herbs and vegetables will include jalapeno peppers, marjoram, iceberg lettuce, cilantro, parsley, Sweet 100s tomatoes, oregano, celery, dill, sage, Roma tomatoes, lavender, sweet banana peppers, meatball eggplants, basil and chives.

Potential visitors can reserve tickets and their preferred starting point online. Prices vary depending on the package selected. For those unfamiliar with the Cayuga Lake-centric trail, the organization recently release a downloadable app.
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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Long Island Wine Press spring edition now available

Randee Daddona photo,Moka Graphics layout
The spring edition of the Long Island Wine Press is hitting the newsstands this week.

The publication, produced by the northforker, features a photo history of the early days of Long Island Wine Country. Some of the region’s oldest vineyards, including Pindar Vineyards, Paumanok Vineyards, Palmer Vineyards and Bedell Cellars, submitted old pictures for the photo essay.

Other features include an interview with 1943 Pizza Bar owner Matt Michel; a profile on Kontokosta Winery, an East End facility; the story behind Channing Daughters Winery’s VerVino vermouth; an interview with Jacqueline Malenda of Madiran the Wine Bar in East Setauket; and a letter from Long Island Wine Council president Roman Roth.

Copies are available at wineries, restaurants, newsstands and other businesses around the region. Some of the material will be posted on the northforker website.
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Brooklyn Crush's spring edition is in the works

The Brooklyn Crush Wine & Artisanal Food Festival is becoming a major player in the state's pantheon of such events. The "spring edition" of the biannual event is set for Saturday, May 13, at Industry City in the borough's Sunset Park.

The tasting will feature more than 175 wines, ciders and other adult drinks, as well as light fare and hors d’oeuvres, plus numerous artisan food tables offering samples of charcuterie, baked goods, olive oils, vegan selections, cheeses, non-alcoholic beverages, salsas and spreads, chocolates, and other specialty foods. Providers will offer full-sized items for patrons to purchase.

Old, new and emerging wine regions will be showcased, including varietals from the U.S. -- with several New York State wineries to be featured, Brazil, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. Vendor and winery lineups will be regularly updated on the festival website.

Tickets now are on sale, priced from $59 to $120, depending upon ticket level and time of purchase. Additional details of the event and ticket purchasing are available online.
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Winery shares step-by-step guide to care of a vineyard

Photo courtesy of Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail
As you might imagine, the care and nurturing of wine grapes is a tedious task that requires  year-round care even though one might think growers can take the winter off.

The Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail has just shared a great guide provided by The Fossil Stone Vineyards on just what steps are a "must" for anyone hoping for a great harvest, favorable weather permitting. Click here to view it.

Fossil Stone is located in Greenfield Center about five miles north of Saratoga Springs on a farm dating to 1802.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hobby winemakers conference set for Cornell University

Reservations now are being accepted for the annual WineMaker Magazine Conference, set for  June 1-4 at Cornell University in Ithaca.

The four-day event targeting hobby winemakers will include dozens of seminars and other events. Organizers are cautioning anyone contemplating attending that the last time the conference was held in the Finger Lakes it sold out several months early.

Among scheduled speakers are Kathy Arnink, who teaches enology courses in Cornell's enology and viticulture program in the Food Science Department; Peter Brehm, owner of Brehm Vineyards in California where he has been helping amateur winemakers for more than 45 years, and Meaghan Frank, fourth generation of the Frank family to manage Dr. Konstantin Frank's Winery in the Finger Lakes.

A downloadable conference brochure and registration information are available online.
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Friday, April 14, 2017

Pennsylvania a step closer to broadening wine sales

• From the Meadville, PA, Tribune
HARRISBURG, PA -- A plan proposed by House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County, would allow shoppers to buy their wine where they get their pasta and sauce -- in the normal grocery aisles instead of a segregated café area of the store.

The measure is part of a series of new privatization bills House Republicans have rolled out to further dismantle Pennsylvania’s government-run liquor system. Other measures would allow grocers to sell spirits as well as beer and wine, and a separate bill to allow privately-run liquor stores.

There are about 220 grocery and convenience stores in Pennsylvania selling wine and beer in cafe settings. Pennsylvania has about 600 state-run liquor stores. Turzai’s bill would allow any grocery store to sell wine in the main store area by paying the state a $250,000 application fee per store. The House Liquor Control Committee has scheduled a vote on the measure for next Tuesday April 18).

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bill would allow out-of-state wine shipments to New Yorkers

From The Business Wire

ALBANY -- With the introduction of Assembly Bill 5991, New York State is poised to open the door for the state's wine consumers to enter the 21st Century.

The bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Amy Paulin of Westchester County -- a graduate of UAlbany -- would give New York wine consumers the right to receive wine shipments from out-of-state wine stores, internet retailers, wine-of-the-month clubs and wine auction houses.

The National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR) today announced its support for her bill. In addition, a number of the state's major wine retailers endorsed the legislation along with its commitment to free and fair trade.

NAWR also has established a new website that provides New Yorkers with access to a variety of tools for supporting the change to the laws governing how the state’s consumers access the wines they want.

“Consumers of fine wine in New York State are slowly learning that it is currently illegal for them to receive shipments from out-of-state wine stores. They cannot fathom why these shipments would be illegal, while out of state wineries, New York state wineries, and New York state retailers are legally able to ship them wine.” said Tom Wark, NAWR executive director. “A5991 would give New Yorkers access to nearly every wine available in the American marketplace and that is a privilege that they should have had years ago.”

The bill also would increase tax revenue by requiring that out-of-state retailers remit sales tax to New York. Protections against minors obtaining the wine are also in the bill and mimic the same requirements for adult signatures at the time of deliver that are required of wineries that ship wine into the state.
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Update 2: Cuomo moviehouse drinks plan bites the dust

Beer and wine are sold in this California theater where clip-on trays also holds food items.
UPDATE 2 (4/12/17): Governor Andrew Cuomo's push to allow all movie houses in the state to sell alcoholic drinks failed to get enough support in the Legislature to become reality. Neither the Republican-led Senate nor the Democrat-led Assembly included it in their budget proposals, and the final budget passed over the weekend did not include any provisions for the measure. Current state law prevents movie theaters from selling such beverages unless the venue also serves restaurant-style food and has tables to go with every seat.

UPDATE (1/20/17): In one of his budget speeches this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would propose granting approval for movie theaters to serve wine and beer, as well as incentives to encourage them to be sure those are New York State products. The catch -- and isn't there always a catch with government? -- is that Cuomo's actual paperwork reveals that such service would NOT be restricted to wine and beer, and there is no provision for incentives for using state products.

(Originally published 1/18/17)

In New York State you can sip a beer or a glass of wine while watching a standup comic perform live, listen to a lounge singer-pianist or a jazz quintet, or even stroll through a gallery to see an art collection or hear a speaker. If alcohol-friendly Governor Andrew Cuomo has his way, you'll be able to enjoy the same beverages while taking in a movie.

There is a small handful of movie houses in the state allowed to sell such beverages now, a result of a succesful 2011 lawsuit filed by Nitehawk Cinemas seeking such a privilege, but they must have table seating and offer a full restaurant menu. Hardly the same as sitting in your neighborhood moviehouse and sloching back into a comfy overstuffed seat while you take in the latest version of the "Hunger Games" franchise, and hardly a sufficient-sized venue to handle crowds for first-run films.

During his budget address delivered publicly on Tuesday, Cuomo said that in addition to dozens of revenue and regulation recommendations, "We also had a proposal that would allow alcohol and beer to be sold in movie theaters. And, it would be joined with an incentive program, to incentivize the movie theaters to sell New York wine and beer."

If successful, the proposal would be just another step in a long series of moves by the governor to aid the state's wine/spirits/brewing industry by simplifying regulations, expanding tax credits, creating promotional programs, and speeding up licensing.

“It is a very big industry for us," Cuomo said. "We have developed it, it’s going gangbusters, anything we can do to encourage it. It’s especially successful in Upstate New York."

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Beak & Skiff emerging as an Upstate multi-spirits producer


Kombucha is ever-so-slowly staking a claim to a small slice of the adult beverage market in New York State. The latest company hoping to make the fermented tea product a substantial part of its business is the Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards and its spirits line called 1911 Establishment.

The Lafayette, Onondaga County, operation is in the midst of a push that potentially will make it a major player in the overall spirits industry. It is constructing a $3.5 million, 20,000-square-foot juice facility adjacent to its apple-pressing building on the south side of Route 20, just east of Route 80.

Across Route 20, a 2,000-square-foot rickhouse will be built next to the 1911 Distillery, which opened in 2009. Eventually, the  barrel-aging facility will hold as many as 600 barrels. As part of the local emphasis, the barrels are made by Adirondack Cooperage of Remsen, just north of Utica.

While the various spirits will need to spend some time being barrel aged before going to market, Beak & Skiff will gain revenue from products of the new juice facility. It expects fresh apple cider this fall, and natural drinks such as kombucha ready for market in 2018. In an interview with Syracuse.com, Beak & Skiff general manager Ed Brennan said the kombucha likely will be produced at Beak & Skiff for another company, using that company's brand name.

"We don't want to rush things," Brennan said. "We want to differentiate ourselves, have something that stands out." Joe Bergan, 1911 distiller, concurs. "We're not going to hustle something out just to get it out," he said.

Beak & Skiff is anything but a newcomer to Upstate New York. It began, according to the company's official history, in 1911 "when George Skiff, an onion farmer on the North Side of Syracuse, and Andrew Beak, a dairy farmer, met at the farmers market and decided it would be fruitful to join forces and enter the emerging apple business. They found that the hillside area along Route 20 provided the perfect conditions for growing apples and began planting that very year."

The company is located at 2708 Lords Hill Road, Lafayette. Phone: (315) - 696-6085.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Clinton Vineyards tasting room reopening with tax-free days



Clinton Vineyards' intimate, attractive tasting room is always a warm-weather treat, so it's good news that owner Phyllis Feder today announced it will open for the season on Saturday.

To mark the occasion, as well as the winery's 40th vintage anniversary which will introduce the latest version of its signature seyval blanc, Feder notes: "The celebration begins with our tasting room opening  on April 15. That's the day people usually pay their taxes. However, not for friends of Clinton Vineyards. We are offering tax free shopping this Saturday and Sunday between 1 and 5 p.m. So, no worries about the tax on your wine purchase. We'll pick up that part of the bill."

Clinton Vineyards is located at 450 Schultzville Road in Clinton Corners, Dutchess County. Phone: (845) 266-5372.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Mio Posto to remerge in new city, in place of Lark + Lily

Danny Urschel
Sylvia Lilly
This a tale of two restaurants with a definite twist. Or two.

Mio Posto, which Danny Urschel had owned for about two years before it was destroyed by a fire last Thanksgiving that also wreaked havoc on several adjoining restaurants in Saratoga Springs, will be reopening, although not in Saratoga.

The Lark + Lily Wine Bar & Kitchen on Albany's Lark Street, which Silvia Lilly created after purchasing what had been The Wine Bar and Bistro On Lark, will disappear before it even reaches its second anniversary.

Here's the deal, as reported by the Times Union's Table Hopping blog:

Danny Urschel, who has said he would reopen Mio Posto but wasn't sure where, says he has reached an agreement with Lily to take over her restaurant and rename it Mio Posto. With 44

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Villa Bellangelo unveils a new 'bench' series of wines

"I'm obsessed with texture," winemaker Chris Missick said as he poured the latest wine in the series of wines by Villa Bellangelo called "Bench" at a tasting in the winery's new library tasting room. The title, short for "bench trial," refers to a limited run series that allows the Bellangelo winemaking team to seek out experimental, textural expressions of the wines it crafts each vintage. The newest wine in the lineup is a 2015 Riesling.


Bench emerged from a collection of barrel projects that started at the winery some years ago. The lineup of current releases includes the 2013 Fifty 50, a hal- white Pinot Noir and half-Chardonnay blend aged in neutral oak for two years, and three separate 2014 skin fermented white wines from Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Seyval Blanc grapes. 


The new release, to be made this month, will be a very different take on Riesling. The 2015 Bench Riesling was uninoculated for its primary fermentation, aged in neutral barrels, and permitted to go through malolactic fermentation. The results, says winemaker Chris Missick, "are a striking change for the person familiar with Finger Lakes Rieslings. Combining citrus with a softer acidity than is typical for the region, and perhaps closer in line with a cold climate Chardonnay than a typical cold climate Riesling, the 2015 Bench Riesling offers an exciting curiosity to the 2015 line-up of Rieslings produced from Bellangelo."

The 2016 Bench wine, still in the barrel and that will not be availablr until 2018, is composed of Gewurztraminer that underwent a carbonic maceration and a late harvest cluster select Gewurztraminer fermented to dryness.

Friday, March 31, 2017

New Long Island cider tasting room goes beyond the norm

A look at the main tasting and dining area. (photos provided)
Cideries may briefly have been a poor cousin to wineries and breweries that were more in the mainstream mind and adept at marketing through well-appointed tasting rooms, but that is changing.

Now that cider, which in colonial times and beyond was the go-to adult beverage here and in the UK, has made a tremendous comeback, more and more cideries -- sometimes offshoots of wine- and beer-making operations -- are paying attention to their public face via tasting rooms.

An example of go-big-or-go-home is the Riverhead Ciderhouse, an 8,000-square-foot tasting room that just opened in the Long Island community regarded as the gateway to the East End wine region.

Greg Gove, whose resume includes stints as a winemaker with Hargrave and Pindar vineyards, is the cider master for the operation that offers a wide variety of apple ciders and other apple products along with locally-made beers and wines. He is using New York-grown apples to

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Researchers seek genetic clues to help grapes survive cold

Al Kovaleski visiting the Anthony Road Winery in Penn Yan. (Chris Kitchen/University Photography)
From the Cornell Chronicle
Months before northern vineyards burst into their lush summer peak, the delicate grape buds holding the nascent fruit in its tiny core must first withstand the freezing onslaught of winter.

Understanding how grape buds respond to subzero temperatures is of paramount concern to vineyard managers in New York and other northerly grape-producing states. Some of the more popular varieties used in the wine and juice industries can survive temperatures far below the freezing point of water. By a process known as supercooling, cellular mechanisms within the bud maintain water in liquid state down to around minus 4 to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the species. Beyond a certain low-temperature threshold, ice forms inside the cells, cellular functions cease and the bud dies.

Horticulturists have long relied on traditional methods to study freezing in plants. Now a researcher in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is using powerful technologies on campus to explore in new ways the cellular mechanics that allow grape buds to survive brutal cold. The research has implications for vineyard economics, especially as climate change opens more northerly land for cultivation and current growing regions experience more extreme weather.
Go here for the full story.
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Wine legislation roundup: 50 states, 50 sets of rules

From Wine Spectator
With all the recent drama in Washington, DC it can be easy to forget that hundreds of lawmakers in state capitols are busy drafting and debating bills that could impact their constituents -- that's you.

The 2017 legislative season is currently under way in most states. And ,because the 21st Amendment to the Constitution delegates much of the power to regulate alcohol to the states, there are plenty of proposals that could change the way you buy and consume wine and other alcoholic beverages.

From the endless direct shipping wars to changes in blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for driving to excise tax increases and exemptions to diapers and wine ice cream, here's a guide to the proposed laws now under debate.

Go here for the state-by-state update.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Minnesota wineries sue over grape-import restrictions

Depending upon its outcome, a lawsuit just filed in Minnesota could be good news for New York State grape growers.

A pair of farm wineries, aided by the Institute for Justice, have filed a federal lawsuit in Minneapolis that challenges the state's limitation on using out-of-state grapes to make wine. The owners of the Alexis Bailly Vineyard and Next Chapter Winery argue that the regulation circumvents their constitutional rights to engage in interstate and foreign commerce.

Minnesota requires wineries to use mostly Minnesota-grown grapes in making wine, but wineries point out that the state's climate makes it difficult to grow many varieties of grapes and, therefore, grapes grown in such heavy-producing states as New York, Missouri and elsewhere are needed to provide variety and volume.

They also call the ban discriminatory because Minnesota allows breweries to use out-of-state hops, mostly those grown in the Pacific Northwest, to make their beers. They argue that if Minnesota breweries were forced to mostly use hops grown in Minnesota, many of their popular products would become difficult, if not impossible, for them to offer.

“We’re fighting for our right to run a successful business,” said Nan Bailly, owner of Alexis Bailly Vineyard, which was founded by her father. “We have always carried the flag for Minnesota-grown and Minnesota-made wines, and always will. We have the oldest winery in

'NY State of Rosé' an international tasting event

Fans of rosé wines, and there seem to be more of them all the time judging by various competitions and news items, will have an opportunity to compare those from New York State with those from several other countries during the "NY State of Rosé" tasting event in Manhattan on Thursday, April 27.

The tasting, organized by New York Wine Events, will be held at the Union Square Ballroom from 7 to 10 p.m., with a premium 6 p.m. access reservation available. They promise a line of rosés from New York, France, Italy, Brazil and Slovenia, with several others to be announcd on the website closer to the date of the event.

Winemakers, wineries, and various importers and distributors will be on hand to pour samples and to discuss the wines with attendees.

For those unfamiliar with rosés (pronounced row/zays), that type of wine is created as the skins of red grapes touch the wine for just a brief time. While some red wines ferment for several weeks on their red grape skins, rosé wines are stained red in just hours. The winemaker has total control over the wine's color, removing the red grape skins when the wine reaches the desired shade.

New York's Bridge Lane Wine, Brotherhood Winery, Jamesport Vineyards, The Lenz Winery, Palmer Vineyards, Sannino Vineyard, and Wolffer Estate Vineyard with its rosé cider will participate; 13th & Third Wines will pour its California selection with New York roots; Maiden + Liberty will present a French-American rosé; Uncork Brazil will feature the country's Miolo Wine Group and Cave Geisse Winery, plus a bonus rosé from South Africa's DeBos Handpicked Vineyards; Laureate Imports will pour a Slovenian selection and XV Exclusives will sample rosés from France and Italy.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Amorici Vineyard's Messina creates an 'off-premises' label

The newcomer
Amorici Vineyard sits near the border between Washington and Rensselaer counties, but its newest wine says "North Fork of Long Island" on the label. Wassup?

Owner-winemaker-chef Joe Messina is having his new line, called Bacchus Trust Select, made by other wineries to his specifications. The first wine in the series is a 2014 gewürztraminer made from Long Island grapes.

The wine is available, like the dozen or so he produces under the Amorici name, for $25 a bottle at the vineyard, located at 637 Colonel Burch Road, Valley Falls. And, it also is available at shops that normally carry Amorici wines.
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Saturday, March 25, 2017

State-supplied alcohol at park sparks Long Island opposition

Under-development visitors center. (Drawing provided by NYS Parks Dept.)

Ever-expanding efforts by the Cuomo administration's Taste NY program that promotes foods and beverages produced in the state are running into some local opposition on Long Island.

The under-construction Hallock State Park visitors center on the North Fork's Sound Avenue will sell alcoholic beverages and visitors will be able to drink them on-site, according to a document just released by the  New York State Department of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. The patio and picnic area adjacent to the center will designated by the department to allow alcohol consumption, the document says.

The department's document said that while it prefers the Taste NY concession to be operated by the holder of a farm winery, brewery or cidery license, “there may be multiple liquor licensing options available to an interested party and all proposals are encouraged.” That nicety is because the Cuomo people have been encouraging "branch office" licenses, and touting the growing number that have been approved.

The concession will occupy a 600-square-foot room in the 3,800-square-foot visitors center structure now under construction in the winery-rich area. Hallock State Park Preserve, formerly