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Liquor Authority Archives

New York State Craft Beverages

Governor Cuomo recently signed another law aimed at loosening the restrictions on alcohol manufacturers in New York State as promised during the second Wine, Beer, Spirits & Cider Summit held back in April. Along with the creation of two new grant programs, the legislation expands the types of activities producers can engage in including activities that were previously only available to on-premises retailers. The new law allows producers to not only conduct tastings on premises but to serve by the bottle and by the glass at their facility and at the same time lowering the food requirement that must be met by these producers. Previously the on-premises consumption privilege was limited to the Farm Winery and Farm Brewery licensees. This new legislation allows all wine and beer producers this expanded ability. The legislation allows sales by the glass of any beer or wine manufactured by the licensee and any other New York State labeled beer or wine. Bottle sales are limited to the products manufactured by the brewery or winery, although a Farm licensee can still sell any other New York Labeled product. The legislation also allows these manufacturers the ability to sell directly to retailers. While these are certainly welcome changes for manufacturers it would be nice to see the Governor give some recognition to the retailers of New York and institute some changes to the law that would benefit them. Under Governor Cuomo's New York Craft initiatives over 100 farm wineries and 62 farm breweries have opened across New York. It is estimated there will be over 200 craft breweries by mid 2015. All of these locations will now offer on-premises consumption with fewer restrictions than those placed on retailers and often in direct competition with retailers. While Governor Cuomo's craft brew initiatives have been universally applauded I think it is time to start considering easing the restrictions placed on the retailers of New York and work toward creating a more level playing field among the manufacturers and retailers.

Linnan & Fallon Attorneys Attend ESRTA Annual Meeting

On Wednesday October 22, 2014 attorneys James D. Linnan and Shawn T. May presented at the annual meeting of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association in Lake George, New York. The topic of discussion was, of course, the New York State Liquor Authority. One of the topics covered by Mr. Linnan, which garnered a lot of discussion among the attendees, was peer to peer (retailer to retailer) sales. Peer to peer sales was originally a part of the wine in grocery store legislative package that was unsuccessful in passing the state legislature. Peer to peer sales have been back in the forefront recently as a result of sting operations conducted by the State Liquor Authority targeting liquor stores that sell to on-premises licensees for resale at restaurants and taverns. While the Restaurant and Tavern Association has lobbied for the amendment of the ABC law to allow these peer to peer sales, its association with the wine in grocery stores bill as well as resistance from the two major wholesalers, have prevented this proposal from moving forward. As pointed out by Mr. Linnan and echoed by the restaurant and tavern owners in attendance, requiring on-premises licensees to purchase liquor and wine only from wholesalers creates a real hardship, particularly for those smaller operations who are unable to purchase and store multiple cases as well as those retailers located in more rural areas that only receive infrequent scheduled deliveries from the wholesalers. The benefits of allowing peer to peer sales, such as more flexibility for restaurant and tavern owners, increased sales tax to New York State and a better selection along with lower prices for consumers far outweigh the only real downside: marginally smaller profits for the giant wholesalers. Scott Wexler, President of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, vowed to continue the fight to have this portion of the ABC law amended.