As we begin to slowly recover from the greatest recession of our time, I write to applaud New York State for embracing the opportunity to support microbreweries with recent legislation to foster their growth and development.
New amendments to state law now allow “craft breweries” (defined as those producing no more than 60,000 barrels annually) to sell their beer at farmers markets, festivals, and the like. This opens up new worlds to them, and to all who love their products. In addition, the law encourages the use of locally grown ingredients, awarding brewers by giving them license as a “farm brewery” if 20 percent or more of their ingredients come from New York State. This makes it much easier for them to sell their New York-labeled beer at a festival like ours, the Hudson Valley Wine and Food Festival.
For the first time in our 12-year history of providing wine and food enthusiasts the opportunity to essentially enjoy a full-blown “tour” of hundreds of vineyards and restaurants right at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, we will be able to welcome our talented New York State brewers to the mix. This adds more value for those who attend, and extends our reach to new tourists (and locals) who will spend money here in New York State.
The news is just great for economic development; it allows us to add a completely new component to the event, just as we have seen farmers’ markets increase in scope and appeal due to the fact that craft breweries are now involved. The very fact that people come from all over the country to enjoy our festival speaks volumes about the disposable income being spent on the experience of food and wine (and now this year, craft beer).
Our event alone creates jobs and stimulates growth for the vendors, who get tremendous exposure as a result of participation and sell cases upon cases of product. And, for the first time ever, this recent legislation allows breweries to be able to reap financial rewards. This will inevitably be a big boon for tourism and for our economy, and we are thrilled to have been part of this movement.
President, WineRacks.com, producer of Hudson Valley Wine and Food Festival