On the Wine Trail
“Wine is not just a beverage, and not just a food, but truly an inspiration to those who make it and those who consume it.”
– Jim Trezise, President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation
In 1976 the New York State legislature passed the Farm Winery Act, a law that would transform the state’s wine industry. The Act allowed small wineries to sell their products directly to customers for the first time. In response, the number of wineries in the state of New York exploded. Before the Farm Winery Act, there were fewer than 20 licensed wineries in the state; today there are nearly 250. Mark Miller, founder of Benmarl Winery in Marlboro, NY, was instrumental in lobbying for the law’s passage. Because of his efforts, Benmarl Winery holds Farm Winery License number one. Initially the Act applied to wineries producing up to 50,000 gallons a year, but this limit has since been raised to 150,000 gallons.
New York wines continue to garner international recognition and sales around the globe. The increase in the number of wineries has fueled the growth of New York’s tourism industry, particularly upstate. Wine trails now exist across the entire state, with events that cater to the wine connoisseur, the fall foliage viewer, or the college student. Evidence of the benefits of the wine and grape industry to the New York economy can be seen in the funding of the New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua, which opened its doors in 2006. In its first year, this state-of-the-art facility gave over 100,000 tourists a chance to experience first hand some of the best food and beverage offerings of New York State.