10/03/13 8:28am
10/03/2013 8:28 AM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Farm stands like Barb’s Veggies in Peconic will soon be able to sell local wines.

Wine lovers will soon be able to pick up a bottle of local vino at their nearest farm stand.

Continuing his push to promote New York State vineyards Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed new legislation permitting the sale of wine at roadside farm markets.

“These new laws will build on our continuing efforts to promote New York’s wine industry across the state and beyond, boosting tourism, local economies and job growth,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement.

Mr. Cuomo signed bills last Friday allowing farm stands to sell local wines and creating several new wine trails in upstate New York. They go into effect March 31, 2014.

On the North Fork, which already boasts an established wine trail, the farm markets law allows for sale of wine that is manufactured and produced by up to two licensed farm wineries, special wineries or micro-wineries located within 20 miles of the roadside farm stands, according to the law.

While in 2009 the mere mention of allowing wine sales at supermarkets had liquor store owners furious and scared for their livelihoods, the new law is not drawing the same amount of criticism.

Jim Silver, general manager of Empire State Cellars in Riverhead, said he doesn’t think allowing farm stands to sell local wine would have a negative impact on his business.

“The seasonality of farm stands is so limited that I don’t think it will have an impact,” he said, adding that farm stands are restricted to carrying only two brands of wine and that climate control might cause a storage issue for farmers. “Do I think it’s a good a idea? Yes. Do I think it’s a great idea? No.”

Although the town and the Long Island Wine Council have a long history of disagreeing on wine-related issues, the law is a measure both groups are behind.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said. “It’s good not just for wineries, but farmers and the people selling produce.”

Steve Bate, the Wine Council executive director, agreed.

“I think it provides a terrific new opportunity for wineries and farm stands to work together to promote the sale of local products,” he said. “This is just the latest example that Governor Cuomo really understands and appreciates the importance of agriculture and agritourism to our state’s economy.”

Mr. Cuomo has spearheaded several initiatives to bolster the wine industry.

In July 2012, the governor signed legislation designed to support New York’s breweries and wineries, as well as increase demand for locally grown farm products and expand industry-related economic development and tourism.

The Empire state is home to nearly 500 wineries, breweries, distilleries and cider mills that account for more than $22 billion in annual total economic impact in the state and support tens of thousands of jobs statewide, the governor’s office said.

The state ranks third in the nation in wine and grape production, has the second-most distilleries and three of the top-producing 20 brewers in the nation, Mr. Cuomo said.

The 2013-14 state budget introduced several new initiatives to help improve the marketing of New York State-produced products, including a total of $7 million for Market New York and Taste NY to support a multifaceted regional marketing plan that will promote regional tourism and New York-produced goods and products.

[email protected]

03/29/13 8:00am
03/29/2013 8:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | A freshly shucked scallop on the half-shell.

Seafood lovers could buy clams on the half shell at farm stands under a proposal members of the agricultural community floated before town officials this week.

Members of the town’s agricultural advisory committee appeared before the Town Board during its Tuesday morning work session asking for the town to relax its farm stand code to permit the sale of fresh seafood in addition to fruits and vegetables.

Committee member Chris Baiz said that as farming evolves the town needs to evolve its policies as well to help farmers stay in business despite high land costs. He added that more farmers are looking to break from traditional operations and develop crops such as hops used by microbreweries in the production of craft beer.

“The most important thing is you’ve got an agricultural industry in this town that is still managing to survive on the most expensive land in the United States for farming and we need to find a way to make it work in terms of cash flow,” he said.

One suggestion is to develop criteria for “credible” shellfish growers to open their own stands as an alternative to dealing with wholesale buyers.

To open a farm stand shellfish growers would be required to have access to underwater land and obtain permits for on-site food consumption.

Supervisor Scott Russell voiced concern that the draft policy’s language might allow these types of farm stands to grow beyond what is intended.

“Are we looking to create farm stands or oyster bars?” he said. “What we need to work out with the agricultural advisory committee is how do we let the bona fide agriculture businesses get to the direct consumer without the exploitation of the town.”

The draft proposal will go to the code committee for further review.

Safety, scenic routes and flat roads have drawn many bike rides and 5K events to Southold Town in recent years, and police chief Martin Flatley says it’s becoming a problem.

Mr. Flatley said the number of event requests is becoming unmanageable. Cost analysis does not take into account all the factors that go into holding these events, he said. The review fails to include the amount of officers needed to organize participants and potential unforeseen problems such as motor vehicle accidents and aided cases.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said its time to create a policy limiting the use of town roads to groups with a “redeeming larger social purpose.”

At Tuesday’s Southold town board work session, Mr. Russell read aloud one for-profit’s organization’s advertisement of its Southold ride: “’We’ve gone to this beach for years and can’t believe they haven’t placed any resident requirements on it. It’s so out of the way they probably don’t get any outsiders.’”

“This is on the website,” Mr. Russell said. “And the problem is there is no larger social purpose here. We need to make it clear that if you’re just looking to make money there is no need to come to Southold.”

Mr. Russell said that there needs to be a cap on the number of riders and number of events held even by well-intentioned groups.

Board members agreed it is time for the town to adopt a compressive policy, but pointed out challenges to the process.

“We’re then faced with the problem of who do we cut off?” Board Member Louisa Evans said. “There are a lot nonprofits doing good work.”

In upcoming weeks, the board will develop a draft of the policy. Suggestions for the proposal included blackout dates and a viable way to control unorganized rides/ runs during which organizers don’t seek the town’s approval at all.

[email protected]