It’s good to have the governor on your side.
Brewers across New York have been praising a new tourism campaign Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week designed to promote the state’s wines, beers and spirits.
Cuomo made his announcement at New York’s first Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit, where producers of alcoholic beverages met with state officials to discuss legislative and regulatory issues facing their industry.
New York will provide $1 million for a new advertising campaign promoting the industry, and it will increase funding, leveraged on an industry match, by up to $2 million, providing a possible $5 million marketing campaign.
The state also plans to hold events similar to Restaurant Week and promote the industry at the state fair. There are also plans to ensure that only alcoholic beverages produced in New York are sold at New York Racing Association tracks.
With more than 450 wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries, New York ranks third in wine and grape production in the U.S., second in distilleries, and is home to three of the top 20 brewers in the country.
“My administration has focused on opening New York’s doors to business and improving our state’s business climate,” Cuomo said in a press release. “New York’s vibrant beer, wine, cider and spirits industry supports thousands of jobs across the state and is a major driver of tourism in many communities.”
Westchester is home to many prominent breweries, including Elmsford-based Captain Lawrence Brewing L.L.C. and the Peekskill Brewery L.L.C. Beer aficionados have been anticipating the opening of the Yonkers Brewing Co. sometime next year.
“We are very excited that Gov. Cuomo is taking this initiative,” said John Rubbo, co-owner of the Yonkers Brewing Co. “It’s a growing industry and it’s great to see that the governor recognizes that and is taking an active step in the promoting industry. We’re just ecstatic.”
Rubbo called the summit a great first step, and hopes New York will host annual beer competitions and tastings like other states do.
“It will promote New York and encourage more people to do business in New York,” Rubbo said.
Small business breweries have become popular in recent years, and Rubbo said that people want to try beer that is made in their backyard.
“Yonkers Brewing Co. is your hometown beer,” Rubbo said. “People are proud of something from home. The industry is growing, and if New York wants to be a part of that growth, it makes sense to come on board and support the industry.”
In starting a small business, Rubbo said it is important to have the support of state and local government. Government across the board has been supportive, he said.
“It’s extremely important. We are investing a lot in this business and New York is a great place to invest in. … It’s very important to have Cuomo say that he supports our industry and wants to see it thrive. We’re very thankful.”
Scott Vaccaro, who owns Captain Lawrence, said he thinks the governor’s campaign is going to be a huge boost to New York breweries.
“It’s something I’ve never seen before,” Vaccaro said. “The alcohol industry doesn’t always get help. It’s great to hear.”
Vaccaro said that small brewers get shut out of events like the New York State Fair and others that could really raise his company’s profile. He also is looking forward to the state modifying regulations. Currently brewers must pay $1,000 for a tasting permit.
“The governor said that a lot of these laws are archaic and were written at a time when there wasn’t a small brewing industry,” Vaccaro said. “It makes a huge difference for small businesses. We appreciate it. We feel fortunate to have a governor that believes in us.”
Vaccaro said that his brewery helps support New York farmers by using area hops, wheat and barley.
“It has wide ranging implications,” Vaccaro said. “We are growing in tough times. It’s great to have a friend in the governor’s office.”
Vaccaro and Rubbo both said that while Cuomo has not tried their beer yet, he is always welcome to come and visit.