Bills to Help Small-scale Alcohol Makers Signed into Law

August 19, 2015 Updated: August 19, 2015

Three bills to help alcohol producers and sellers in the state were put into law this week to level the playing field between small producers and big ones.

One bill made it legal for farm distilleries to sell non-alcoholic items, such as shirts, shot glasses, and produce.

“Farm-based beverage producers, as tourism destinations and regional draws, generate revenue through gifts and destination-specific items. This bill would provide equity for farm distillers with the other farm-based beverage licenses,” the senate bill read.

The owners of the Orange County Distillery, a farm distillery in Goshen, say they didn’t even know they weren’t allowed to sell other items. They have been open since October and sell things like shirts, shot glasses, and hats. They said lots of farm distilleries have sold merchandise, just as they do, but were happy that it is now legal.

“Merchandising and any retail is good, so it’s a good thing,” said John Glebocki, one of the founders and owners of the distillery.

He said they didn’t make a significant amount of money off their merchandise, but were happy they weren’t restricted to only selling alcohol nonetheless.

Another bill that similarly affects small producers, is one that amends a tax law requiring brewers to file annual information returns with the department of taxation and finance. 

“These small businesses often do not have the capability to handle large amounts of data collection for taxes, and this bill will ensure that micro-breweries receive the same benefit of exemption as farm breweries,” said New York Senator Betty Little, one of the sponsors of the bill, in a press release.

The new bill affects breweries that produce 60,000 barrels or less.

Kenan Porter, the owner of Clemson Bros. Brewery in Middletown, which is set to start producing in three weeks, says he thought the law had already changed in regards to the double tax filing.

“That’s the whole point of the new license, it’s easier,” he said.

In any case, he welcomed any new law that would make it easier to do business in the state of New York.

“It’s not easy to open up a brewery. It’s not easy to open up a distillery,” he said “Working in New York state is not an easy thing no matter what you’re doing.”

The other law change would make it so retailers could have liquor tastings in their stores without the manufacturer being present.

“Previously, a representative from the manufacturer or wholesaler of the product had to be present at the store and conduct the tasting. For many small businesses, this was an unaffordable expense and now, they will not be required to be present in order for their product to be sampled,” the governor’s press release read.

Parimal Patel, the owner of Hudson Valley Wine and Liquors in Middletown said he thinks it will really help the small producers.

“It’s so expensive to hire for them,” he said. “They have to use an outside company that charges $30, $50 an hour for a tasting.”

He said it would help his business marginally because it gets people drinking and buying more expensive alcohol, but the most benefit would be to the small manufacturers.

All three bills go into effect immediately.

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