Whether it's breweries, cideries, distilleries or wineries, New York's farm-based beverage industry is rapidly growing.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that the number of licenses issued for farm-based breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries has increased increased 72 percent since he took office in 2011.
"The tremendous growth in the farm-based beverage industry over the past three years is a testament to how state government is creating new economic opportunities for local businesses to grow and thrive," Cuomo said in a statement.
The state has 26 licensed farm breweries and there are more than a dozen applications awaiting review, according to Cuomo. The number of microbreweries in New York has increased from 40 three years ago to 93 operating in the state today. There are now 23 restaurant brewers operating in the state, up from 10 in 2011.
Cuomo attributes the growth to a law adopted in 2012 that requires producers to use locally grown farm products when manufacturing beer in order to receive a farm brewery license. If the brewers abide by the terms of the license, the beers are designated "New York state labeled beer."
New York State Brewers Association Executive Director Paul Leone said through the state's support and efforts like Taste NY, which promotes New York-made beverages and food products, the craft brewing industry has been able to grow over the past three years.
"This is a unique state government both in terms of vision and policy, and we are proud to have them as partners in our success," Leone said.
Farm-based breweries aren't alone. There are now 273 farm wineries in New York, up from 195 in 2011. The state is also home to 51 farm winery branch offices and 73 wineries, up from 29 and 55 in 2011, respectively.
"The acceleration of wine industry growth did not happen by chance, but by design," New York Wine and Grape Foundation President Jim Trezise said. "Just as the ripening of grapes is accelerated by warm, sunny weather, the growth of our industry has been accelerated by a sunny business climate created by Governor Andrew Cuomo and his administration.
"Changes in laws and regulations, coupled with business-friendly approaches at key agencies, have created new confidence and excitement in the wine industry and the state Liquor Authority's expedited licensing has given us a great boost."
Cuomo also touted growth in the number of cideries and farm distilleries. There were five hard cider producers operating in New York three years ago. Today, there are 22. And while there were only 10 farm distilleries and 14 class A and B distilleries back in 2011, there are now 42 farm distilleries and 33 class A and B distilleries operating in the Empire State.
While the state has adopted laws to help boost breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries in New York, one key development was Cuomo's Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit.
The summit, which was held in Oct. 2012 in Albany, brought leaders from around the state to discuss issues important to the beverage industry. The summit led to the creation of Taste NY, which is a state initiative promoting New York beverages and food.
The beer and wine summit also led to some regulatory changes, including allowing craft manufacturers to sell bottles of beer when they host tastings, eliminating a $400 permit for farm brewers and distillers, allowing one-day special event permits for craft brewers and cider producers, among other changes.
The New York State Liquor Authority has also assisted in the effort by processing licenses faster. Before Cuomo started his term as governor, the review process for an average license application would take 102 days and there was a backlog of 750 applications.
Now, the backlog has been reduced to 14 applications and the review process, on average, takes 61 days.
UPDATE: In this video clip provided by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, Deputy Secretary for Food and Agriculture Patrick Hooker comments on the increased number of farm-based beverage licenses issued since 2011.