As I reported earlier, Cuomo’s budget has zeroed out the industry group that handles lobbying, education, marketing and research efforts on behalf of the state’s ever-growing wine and grape industry. The NYW&GF, with headquarters in Canandaigua, has been limping along with continually reduced state funding over the past several years, but president Jim Trezise said if Cuomo’s 2011-12 budget is passed without aid to the foundation, the organization will quickly close.
Three U.S. Representatives who are members of the governor’s own Democratic Party — Paul D. Tonko (21st District), Maurice Hinchey (22nd) and Louise Slaughter (28th) — wrote a letter to Cuomo, asking for reconsideration of support for the organization.
In 1985, the same three politicians sponsored legislation that created the foundation. In their letter, they said, “The grape and wine industry was a small, struggling, regional industry when we created the foundation. Today it is the fastest growing industry in the agricultural and tourism sectors with more than 300 wineries located in 50 of our state’s 62 counties. The foundation is an invaluable public-partnership that has paid, and continues to pay huge dividends to the state in terms of new businesses, new jobs, increased tourism, and more than $230 million annually in state and local taxes.”
According to an independent study by Stonebridge Research, a Napa Valley, CA, wine economics firm, the $2.8 million in funding from the 2008 budget helped the foundation assist the wine and grape industry to contribute $3.76 billion in economic benefits to New York State.
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