• From time to time, we’ll offer space for someone with a point of view. Feel free to submit commentaries for consideration. This essay was written by the co-owner of the Hudson-Chatham Winery, located in Ghent, Columbia County.
by CARLO DeVITO
We’ve got trouble, right here in River City.
Let me tell you right now, New York State wine is in trouble.
There is a glut of wine in the world.
There has never been more cheap wine available in the marketplace.
There has never been a time when there have been more wineries in New York.
There has never been so much New York wine and so few places to sell it.
There has never been so much good wine being made in New York as there is now. Long Island and the Finger Lakes get 90s repeatedly now from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, and wines are improving in the Niagara and the Hudson Valley [regions] on a daily basis.
But, there is a problem. New York liquors stores are not befriending the small-winery owners. And the small-winery owners are not doing enough to entice those same store owners to make things happen.
The governor and the Legislature have abandoned the wine industry in New York. In other states, hell, in other countries smaller than New York State, the wine industry is praised and courted and supported by government. Other state and federal governments see the value in the billions of dollars the wine industries brings to their regions via sales and tourism — $3+ billion alone. But, New York is so uniquely, so ineptly, and so badly run that political infighting and pork far outweigh common good in this most corrupt and selfish of states. The buffoons who hold the chambers of the Legislature at the state house are more like Dom DeLuise playing Nero while Albany and NYC burn. (I would say the Keystone Cops except the situation is so onerous, so potentially deadly to an entire industry.)
Poor Jim Trezise [president of the New York State Wine & Grape Foundation] is a good man. He has been a cheerleader for the state for decades. He has overseen tremendous growth. He himself is indefatigable, but his offices are underfunded and understaffed. Personally, I’d like to see a slight redirection of the Foundation and what it provides, but that’s beside the point. And the lawmakers only see him as a black hole in the budget instead of a shiny gold ribbon on their lapel.
With the defeat of the grocery store effort, the wineries now face stagnation.
The New York Legislature will zero out the wine budget soon. It’s down to around $700,000, and the looming budget deficit makes it unlikely that the wineries will get anything at all in the next budget.
Who will save us?
[Go here for the remainder of this commentary.]
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