New York State has been named "Wine Region of the Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, with the actual award to be presented at the Wine Star Awards gala dinner on Monday, January 26 in the New York Public Library's Celeste Ballroom.
"We are delighted and honored that the New York wine industry is receiving this prestigious recognition, especially given the competition for such a coveted award," said Jim Trezise, President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation which represents grape growers and wineries statewide. "This award literally belongs to hundreds of people who have worked together on many fronts to improve the quality of our grapes and wines, grow our industry, and market the products. We're the 30-year overnight success."
The other nominees for the Wine Region of the Year were Champagne, France; Chianti Classico, Italy; Sonoma Coast, California; and Red Mountain, Washington. In the Winery of the Year category, Long Island's Channing Daughters Winery was nominated, as was Hudson Whiskey of the Hudson Valley in the spirits category. The winners in those categories will be announced later.
New York now has more than 375 wineries spread throughout 56 of the state's 62 counties including Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. The industry generates annual economic benefits to New York State exceeding $4.8 billion, and the various wine regions have become major tourist destinations, attracting more than 5.3 million tourist visits to predominantly rural regions and more than $400 million in wine-related tourism expenditures. In addition, the quality of New York wines has improved dramatically in recent years, thanks to a combination of world-class research at Cornell University and collaboration among winemakers.
A major factor in the industry's dramatic success has been the business climate in the form of a public-private partnership stimulating growth and success. In the early 1980's during a time of economic crisis in the industry, former Governor Mario M. Cuomo initiated a comprehensive package of legislation which transformed it into the fastest growing industry in the important agriculture and tourism sectors of the State economy.
That business climate has been enhanced even more by the current Governor, Andrew M. Cuomo. Since he took office in January 2011, Governor Cuomo's "entrepreneurial government" approach has helped propel the industry to an entirely new level. As a result of two "Wine, Beer, Spirits & Cider Summits" that he convened, several important laws and regulations have been changed, and major promotions have increased the awareness and sales of New York wines.
In the past four years, 28 new wineries, 100 new farm wineries, and 29 new farm winery branch offices have opened in regions throughout the State. A major reason for that explosive growth is a newly business-friendly State Liquor Authority, which under the leadership of Chairman Dennis Rosen has significantly reduced the amount of time required to obtain a license. Other State government agencies have also provided great support, from the Department of Agriculture & Markets to Empire State Development and the Department of Transportation. In addition, the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority has provided grants supporting a highly successful "NY Drinks NY" promotion of New York wines in New York City orchestrated by First Press Public Relations. And the New York Wine & Culinary Center serves as a focal point for education about New York wines and other craft beverages as well as foods, agri-tourism and culinary tourism.
"Governor Andrew Cuomo has provided the vision and leadership to bring our industry to a whole new level," said Trezise. "But no Governor can act alone, so we are also very grateful to New York State legislators in both chambers from both sides of the aisle who have been enthusiastic partners in this process, in particular Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman Bill Magee who chair the respective Agriculture Committees. On the federal level, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles Schumer, and former Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton have been terrific champions of our industry and New York agriculture in general, as have several members of Congress from both parties.
The industry's success is also the result of many different groups working together with the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, which over the years has had scores of industry professionals serving on its Board of Directors who deserve a lot of credit. Allied groups include the New York State Wine Grape Growers, New York Wine Industry Association, National Grape Cooperative Association, Lake Erie Regional Group, New York Farm Bureau, Long Island Farm Bureau, New York State Restaurant Association, and the many wine trails throughout the state.
"'Diversity is our strength, Unity is our power.' That has been our mantra for 30 years, and this award reflects that combination," said Trezise. "This has been a group effort, and this recognition belongs to all the individuals and organizations which have contributed to the advancement of our industry."
"This award is also a major step toward fulfillment of our goal--'To have the New York grape and wine industry recognized as a world leader in quality, productivity, and social responsibility."
"The New York wine industry has made a remarkable comeback in the past 30 years in terms of quality of wines, number of wineries, and economic impact...making New York one of the most vibrant and promising wine regions of the world."
--Adam Strum, Publisher and Editor, Wine Enthusiast Magazine