04/16/14 8:00am
04/16/2014 8:00 AM
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces new reforms to ease restrictions on farm wineries. (Credit: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces new reforms to ease restrictions on farm wineries. (Credit: Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office)

Local wineries and farm breweries are celebrating recent statewide reforms they say will both reduce the financial burden on the local beverage industry and give them more freedom to sell and distribute their products. (more…)

12/11/13 9:38pm
12/11/2013 9:38 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Sidor Farms in Cutchogue has received $50,000 from the state to expand its potato chip manufacturing operation.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Sidor Farms in Cutchogue has received $50,000 from the state to expand its potato chip manufacturing operation.

The latest round of the New York Regional Economic Development Council awards were announced Wednesday and more than $4 million is coming directly to the North Fork.

A total of $715.9 million in state funds and tax credits were awarded to the 10 regional councils across New York. Long Island is receiving $83 million for a total of 98 projects, the most of any region in the state.

Nine of those projects are on the North Fork.

Below is a list of each of the local projects, the name of the applicant, the state’s description of the project and the amount awarded.

Projects are listed in descending order based on the total number of dollars received.

Town of Riverhead Community Development Agency

Project: EPCAL Sewer Treatment Upgrade

Funding: $1.34 million

Description: Upgrade of Calverton sewage treatment plant from secondary to tertiary treatment, which will provide both economic development and environmental benefits to this regionally significant project site with immediate potential for job creation benefit.

EBDK Research at Calverton 

Project: CARE NY (Calverton Addiction Research and Education Research Center)

Funding: $1 million

Description: CARE NY (Calverton Addiction Research Education), a substance addiction Research Center and a separate Recovery Center, will construct an addiction research and education center at the Calverton Enterprise Park to complement an adjacent proposed treatment center.

Peconic Landing

Project: Special Needs and Acute Rehabilitation Center

Funding: $800,000

Description: This $44 million project is the expansion of dementia care and rehabilitation facility in Greenport.

Long Island Wine Council

Project: Access East End

Funding: $285,000

Description: This program is a multimodal transportation and marketing initiative to generate visitor traffic from the NY metro area, east coast, national and international source markets during off-season and midweek periods. By opening the East End of Long Island to new customers from the NY metro area and other east coast population centers, we expect that this program will draw thousands of new visitors to the region.

Skydive Long Island 

Project: Altitude Express Indoor Skydiving Facility

Funding: $250,000

Description: Altitude Express Inc. will build an indoor skydiving attraction on Long Island which will operate year round. The company anticipates this attraction will draw another 50,000-100,000 visitors to the area annually.

East End Arts Humanities Council

Project: Long Island Winterfest

Funding: $162,000

Description: East End Arts is requesting grant funds to support an expanded marketing strategy and to hire a festival coordinator to support the implementation of a five-year strategic plan toward a goal of growth and sustainability of LIWinterfest: Live on the Vine, an award winning agricultural tourism program designed to generate tourism traffic to the East End of Long Island during the slowest months.

East End Arts Humanities Council

Project: Winterfest Expansion Project

Funding: $99,408

Description: East End Arts will expand marketing strategies and hire a festival coordinator to improve growth and sustainability of its LI Winterfest — an award winning agri-cultural tourism program. The six-week program of live music performances at wineries, theaters and area hotels, along with special promotions at restaurants, hotels, transportation companies and area businesses generates tourism traffic to East End of Long Island during the off-season months.

Sidor Farms 

Project: Business Expansion

Funding: $50,000

Description:  The Cutchogue company will expand its potato chip manufacturing operation and tour facility including a museum on the History of Long Island Potato Farming.

Ultra Motion 

Project: Advanced Manufacturing Skills Program

Funding: $30,000

Description: Ultra Motion LLC of Cutchogue will train six workers in IPC (Institute for Printed Circuits) J-STD-001D Soldering Certification, computer-aided design, inventory control, and supply chain management.

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10/08/13 3:30pm
10/08/2013 3:30 PM
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | The audience listens as Joan Bischoff of the North Fork Promotional Council leads a forum Oct. 7 for Southold Town business owners on ways to extend the tourism season.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | The audience listens as Joan Bischoff of the North Fork Promotional Council leads a forum Oct. 7 for Southold Town business owners on ways to extend the tourism season.

Southold Town business owners discussed ways to extend the tourism season at a forum hosted Monday evening by the Southold Economic Development Committee and North Fork Promotion Council. 

“It’s the first time since we’ve been in the business of agritourism that I’ve seen so much effort taken to bring people to the East End,” said Joan Bischoff of the North Fork Promotion Council, who led the discussion. “It is time now, I think, that people come to the North Fork, especially in its offseason.”

The forum, which took place at the Peconic Lane Community Center, is part of a major public relations effort and significant advertising campaign for Taste North Fork, a new pilot shuttle bus service to connect wineries, hamlets and local businesses this Veteran’s Day weekend.

The pilot program has been made possible through a portion of a $335,000 “I Love NY” grant that aims to help promote agritourism on the East End, according to the East End Tourism Alliance.

Steven Bate, executive director of the Long Island Wine Council, said during the meeting that he hopes to have shuttle buses run at 45-minute intervals during Veteran’s Day weekend. Plans are still being finalized, he said, but the bus loop is scheduled to run from Riverhead to Greenport. The buses will stop in each hamlet with most of the stops being at local wineries, Mr. Bate said.

“We’re hoping to have buses come by at 45-minute intervals so that people will have time to taste some wine or do an activity, then hop back on the bus,” Mr. Bate said. “We want to promote the fact that there’s a lot going on the North Fork that weekend.”

During the roughly two-hour long discussion, local business owners were asked to weigh in on the planning process for the event and brainstorm activities to make the implementation of the “I Love NY” grant a huge success.

Mr. Bischoff urged the roomful of business owners to band together and coordinate events with one another that help promote business on the North Fork this Veteran’s Day weekend and beyond. He also encouraged them to actively promote their businesses through social media.

“It’s been difficult to get the restaurants to talk to the vineyards, to get Southold business owners to talk to Greenport business owners,” he said. “We have to put that aside a little bit for this event and start thinking as North Forkers,” he said.

Rosemary Batcheller, owner of the Village Cheese Shop on Love Lane in Mattituck, said during the meeting that she and other Love Lane merchants are planning an event called “Taste Love Lane” during Veteran’s Day weekend. They have invited some local farmers to attend, she said, and each individual merchant will run a special promotion.

“If this goes well, and if the money comes back again, I can really envision a beautiful welcoming,” Ms. Batcheller said.

Donielle Cardinale, of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s in Mattituck, addressed the crowd and told them that if the region can attract visitors to come to the North Fork during the fall and winter, every local business will benefit. Ms. Cardinale sits on the boards of three local organizations: the Economic Development Committee, the North Fork Promotion Council and the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce.

“The North Fork is on stage and we need to perform so that we keep the audience coming back,” she said.

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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.

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09/05/13 12:00pm
09/05/2013 12:00 PM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | There were plenty of wines available at the Harvest East End celebration Aug. 24 at McCall Wines in Cutchogue.

The fourth annual celebration of Long Island Wine Country, known as Harvest East End, raised close to $50,000 for its beneficiaries: East End Hospice, Group for the East End and the Peconic Land Trust, as well as the Long Island Farm Bureau Promotion & Education Foundation, according to a press release.

The event, organized by the Long Island Wine Council with support from Merliance, celebrated wine country’s 40th anniversary and brought more than 1,300 people to McCall Vineyard & Ranch in Cutchogue Aug. 24.

It was the first time the event was held on the North Fork. Governor Andrew Cuomo attended the event and presented McCall Wines owner Russ McCall with a plaque for a “Winery of the Year” award, which he won at the 2013 New York Wine & Food Classic.

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM HARVEST EAST END

Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele also made an appearance.

Officials premiered a 30-second commercial promoting wine production in New York State. The spot is expected to run this fall throughout the region.

This year’s event surpassed last years fundraising total by close to $4,000, according to the release.

“There is a reason why so many of Long Island’s wines earn premium scores by our reviewers,” said Adam Strum, Editor & Publisher of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, which helped sponsor the event. “The wines of this region are distinct and delicious, elegant and eminently food-friendly. Long Island definitely is a wine region to watch.”

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08/28/13 12:00pm
08/28/2013 12:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A pilot shuttle bus program will transport people to wineries, hamlets and local businesses.

Southold Town is throwing its support behind a new pilot shuttle bus service to connect wineries, hamlets and local businesses this Veterans Day weekend.

During Monday’s work session the board said it would assist the East End Tourism Alliance, Long Island Wine Council and North Fork Promotion Council in promoting the event.

“This would be an opportunity to advance business,” said Southold’s special projects coordinator Philip Beltz. “It needs to be successful so it can be continued.”

The pilot program is being made possible through a portion of a $335,000 “I Love NY”  grant, aiming to help promote agritourism on the East End, said Joan Bischoff of the North Fork Promotional Council during the meeting.

The buses, which will be provided by Hampton Jitney, will run in a loop between Riverhead and Greenport. There will also be feeder buses from the Cross Sound Ferry and Long Island Rail Road. Stops will be made at each location approximately every 45 minutes during business hours.

The groups behind the shuttle are currently planning a ‘Taste North Fork” festival to coincide with the pilot program on Veterans Day weekend. The three-day event will feature a full range of activities celebrating local wines and foods across the region. Wineries, as well as local breweries and distilleries, will be invited to offer special tasting menus paired with foods from local restaurants.

Mr. Bischoff said he’d like the town’s help to expand participation to include small businesses, chambers of commerce and historical societies. He hopes stops could also be made within each individual hamlet.

“The hope is [that businesses] can come up with themes to showcase their community,” he said.

“It is a fantastic idea,” said Greenport Business Improvement District president Peter Clarke said after the meeting. “It makes sense for Greenport. It’s a pedestrian spot. People could stop and see a lot of things at one time.”

Mr. Clarke said he thinks the village could be use as a hospitality center where visitors can learn about the different locations where the shuttle will stop.

Mr. Bischoff said he hopes the shuttle program can continue next year for the entire summer season.

“We have to make sure it’s not a bridge to nowhere,” he said. “We would like some sort of annual event in the slow season to bring in tourists.”

The organizations are now working with the towns and the Hampton Jitney to finalize the exact shuttle route.

The Town Board agreed to host a meeting for all interested parties at the end of September to help promote the pilot program. No date has been set.

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08/26/13 12:00pm
08/26/2013 12:00 PM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Harvest East End was hosted on the North Fork for the first time Saturday at McCall Wines in Cutchogue.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Harvest East End was hosted on the North Fork for the first time Saturday at McCall Wines in Cutchogue.

More than 1,200 people attended Harvest East End at McCall Wines in Cutchogue Saturday night. Here are some more photos from the event, which raised money for Group for the East End, Peconic Land Trust, the Long Island Farm Bureau and East End Hospice.

The event presented by Wine Enthusiast with support from the Long Island Wine Council.

08/19/13 8:00am
08/19/2013 8:00 AM

Jitney

The North Fork wine trail attracts thousands of visitors each weekend. With dozens of vineyards to choose from, getting to each one – especially after the bottles have been uncorked – takes planning.

To help take the guess work out and get people to their destination safely, the East End Tourism Alliance and North Fork Promotion Council are launching a pilot shuttle bus service to connect wineries this Veterans Day Weekend.

The pilot program is being made possible through a portion of a  “I Love NY” $300,000 grant, aiming to help promote agritourism in Suffolk County, according to Steven Bate, executive director of the Long Island Wine Council.

“The real transformative part of the project is to test out the feasibility of a free shuttle bus to facilitate tourist access for the huge New York metro population without their own cars,” he said.

The buses, which will be provided by Hampton Jitney, will run in a loop between Riverhead and Greenport. There will also be feeder buses from the Orient Point ferry and Long Island Rail Road. Stops will be made at each location approximately every 45 minutes during business hours, Mr. Bate said.

The groups behind the shuttle are currently planning a ‘Taste North Fork” festival to coincide with the pilot program on Veterans Day weekend. The three-day event will feature a full range of activities celebrating local wines and foods across the region, Mr. Bate said. Wineries, as well as local breweries and distilleries, will be invited to offer special tasting menus paired with foods from local restaurants.

Joan Bischoff of the North Fork Promotional Council said that he hopes the shuttle program can continue next year for the entire summer season.

The organizations are also now working with the towns on finalizing the exact shuttle route.

“We are very excited about this opportunity and very grateful to I Love NY for giving us the seed capital to launch what we hope will become an annual event that provides a significant seasonal boost to our local economy,” Mr. Bate said.

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07/30/13 10:26pm
07/30/2013 10:26 PM

After a half hour of contentious debate, the Southold Town Board adopted a special events law to the “tremendous disappointment” of the Long Island Wine Council.

Members of the agricultural community criticized the draft law during a public two weeks ago when speakers offered numerous suggestions to amend the policy they said unfairly burdens businesses with fees and penalties for holding large events. Opponents of the bill said they were blindsided by the board’s decision to vote without incorporating any of their suggestions.

“The Town of Southold has chosen to burden the small businessman with time consuming applications and fees and to threaten them with burdensome fines and penalties,” said Sal Diliberto of the Long Island Wine Council. “The town should be doing things to benefit the industry, not limiting the ability of that industry to function in today’s difficult economic times.”

The law gives the town more control over events held at wineries and other properties and prevents an unlimited amount of special events from taking place at any one location. It would require a permit for any gathering that exceeds a building’s occupancy or parking capacity or is otherwise prohibited by the property’s zoning. A permit would also be required for events involving the closing of a public street, the use of amplified sound, the sale of food or merchandise, the placement of portable toilets and a number of other circumstances.

Fines for violators range from $500 to $5,000.

The agricultural community was not alone its opposition. For the first time, councilman Chris Talbot spoke out and voted against the law.

“There are changes that need to be made and I’m not supporting it,” he said. “The wine industry has grown this area. So many people come out here and spend their money. We are reaping all the benefits of these wineries and farms and for government, a Republican government, to throw another hurdle in the way of these businesses that are struggling to survive… I just have to say no to this law.”

The measure passed 5-1 with Mr. Talbot voting no.

Read more in Thursday’s issue of The Suffolk Times in both our print and electronic editions.

06/21/13 7:00am
06/21/2013 7:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said this week that ‘special events’ held every weekend at area farms and vineyards should not be classified as special events.

Southold’s contentious special events permit law is ready for public comment.

During its regular session Tuesday, the Town Board set a public hearing for a revised version of the proposal for July 16 at 4:30 p.m. in the Town Hall meeting room.

The proposed law would give the town more control over special events at wineries and other agricultural properties. The measure comes in response to residents’ complaints about such events — most notably at Vineyard 48 in Cutchogue — and concern about the town’s options in addressing code violations.

“[The proposal] will limit these events, because if you have special events every Saturday and Sunday they are no longer special events, they are a business model,” said Supervisor Scott Russell.

The code change was shelved last year when representatives of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, an agency with the power to overturn local laws, found it placed undue restrictions on farming activities. But town attorney Martin Finnegan said the state agency supports the revised proposal.

The law would require a permit for any gathering that exceeds a building’s occupancy or parking capacity, or is prohibited by zoning. A permit would also be required for an event that involved the closing of a public street, the use of amplified sound, the sale of food or merchandise and the placement of portable toilets.

Town officials said permit fees would be based on the number of anticipated attendees: $150 for events with up to 500 attendees; $250 for events expecting 500 to 1,000 guests; and $350 when expected attendance exceeds 1,000 people. Permit applications would need to be submitted 60 days prior to the event or be subject to rejection or a $250 late fee.

The revised permit fees are significantly lower than those the town proposed last year. which ranged from $250 to $650.

In the past, critics have said the town has failed to clearly define what a special event is, forcing organizers of routine events to undergo burdensome permit procedures. Opponents also argue that limiting the events would decrease agritourism in the area. The Long Island Farm Bureau and Long Island Wine Council are among the groups that have expressed concern about the code changes.

“We are in talks with the town about the legislation,” said wine council president Ron Goerler Jr., owner of Jamesport Vineyards in Jamesport. “We all benefit from the amount of money generated by tourism. It’s a balancing act.”

The town’s Zoning Board of Appeals would administer the permits, as it does now. Events on town property or exceeding 1,000 attendees would also be subject to Town Board approval.

If the revised law is approved, event organizers who don’t get permits will pay fines ranging from $500 to $1,500. Repeat offenders could face fines of up to $5,000.

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