Ban on Retail Sales Hurting State Wine Industry

New York’s continued ban on the sale of wine in grocery stores is having a dramatic impact on the sale of locally produced wine, knocking the state’s ranking of off-premise wine sales below Missouri, Indiana and North Carolina.“These restrictive, prohibition era rules have succeeded in knocking our state’s wine and grape farmers to a laughable ranking in state-of-origin wine sales,” said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau.“Without passage of the wine in grocery store provision, and expansion of outlets to sell our products, our family grape farmers will continue to fall in the rankings, hurting farms and causing a loss of jobs in the wine industry,” Norton said. While New York still ranks high in grape production, the state is now 11th in sales of wine, according to scan data from tens of thousands of food and drug stores across the country published this month in Wine & Vines, a leading industry trade publication.The publication’s recent ranking of wine-producing U.S. states in order of most off-premise sales put California, Washington and Oregon in the top three. All three of those states allow the sale of wine in grocery stores.While New York State usually ranks in the top four by vineyard acreage and total wine production, New York was beat out in sales by North Carolina, Michigan, Indiana and Missouri, Ohio and Virginia. “None of those states produces as much wine, or grows as many grapes, as our New York farmers, who in the past few years have had to truck grapes as far away as North and South Dakota, for other state’s winemakers to turn into wine,” said Julie Suarez, NYFB Director of Public Policy. “New York comes in at No. 11, probably because of the state’s unusually restrictive regulations, which prohibit wine sales in supermarkets,” the magazine said.New York Farm Bureau continues to press the legislature to support Governor Paterson’s proposal to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores, saying it would create jobs, boost the lagging rural economy and foster growth of the state’s family owned grape and wine farms. If passed, New York Farm Bureau estimates that the measure would create approximately 19,202 new retail outlets for wine sales in the state. Major grocery chains have pledged to make special promotional efforts of New York wines if the measure passes.Authorizing New York’s farm wineries to be able to sell wine in grocery stores would also add an estimated $300 million to the state coffers through excise taxes.

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