Devin Morgan I July 31, 2013
Where Can NY Farm Distilleries, Breweries, and Wineries Be Located?
Is a farm really necessary? One of the misleading things about New York State’s Farm Distillery, Brewery, and Winery laws is exactly what “farm” means. In fact, the big idea behind the laws has nothing to do with the location where the alcohol is made. A “farm distillery” can be located in Brooklyn (and I’m pretty sure there are some in the works there). They are really about the use of NY farm products to make New York labeled products. The state’s goal is to promote New York agricultural and define New York as a region of choice for fermented products, and not just for NY consumers and tourists, but as an export with world market potential. Unfortunately, the laws are not consistent so just how “farm” you need to be has different meaning in the different laws.
Farm Distilleries can be located on anywhere in New York, as long as the liquor is made primarily from farm and food products and then sold. Sure, they can be located on a farm, but they can also be located in an urban warehouse, suburban strip mall, or lighthouse as long as they meet local zoning and the physical requirements of a distillery.
Farm Breweries can be located anywhere in New York, as long as the beer qualifies as “New York state labeled beer.” You can think of this requirement as following the same general concept as a wine region. Currently and through 2018, the bar is fairly low. NYS labeled beer needs 20% NY grown hops and 20% of all other ingredients (other than water) to be grown in NY. But the standard is designed to change over time and reach 90% NYS ingredients by 2024.
At present, farm wineries actually need to be on farms. Of course, the definition of farm is fairly broad, based on commercial production of any crops, livestock, or livestock products. I don’t know whether anyone has tested whether a hydroponic farm (which can be built in a warehouse) could make a viable farm for hosting a farm winery. There is no requirement that the farm location actually produce grapes.
What about Farm Cideries?
Cider, despite its obvious synergy with New York’s proud apple heritage, continues to occupy a weird stepchild status in the New York alcoholic beverage laws. New York labeled cider is contemplated in the law and can generally be produced under both farm winery and farm brewery licenses. There is also a regular cider producer license, but it does not have all of the nifty flexibility built into the farm licenses. It is unclear to me whether you could apply for a farm winery or farm brewery license if your plans only included cider, not wine or beer.
About the Author
Devin Morgan is an author, speaker, and attorney with Knull Group (www.eatdrinklaw.com), a firm for food-obsessed business and intellectual property lawyers in Cooperstown, NY. He is focused on the growth of the craft food and beverage industry in New York State and is the primary author of the Eat. Drink. Law. blog. Click here to receive a free report from Devin on growing a distinctive food or beverage business. Knull Group is a big supporter of Farmshed CNY’s quest to map the local food scene across Central New York. This post is for general information only and is not legal advice. Attorney Advertising.
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