ITHACA, N.Y. (NCC News) — The next time you drink a glass of wine, you may want to check where it was made. If it comes from a New York vineyard, you are contributing to a surging industry with that is paying massive dividends.
The New York Wine and Grape Foundation (NYWGF) conducted a study that said in New York alone, the wine and grape industry created:
- 71,950 jobs
- $2.79 billion in wages
- $6.65 billion in direct impact
The state is third in the country in wine production, trailing only Oregon and California.
New York is producing at such a high rate on the backs of small, mom and pop type shops. Tourists flocking to wine trails in the empire state are a massively important economic player.
“Tourist tax dollars. We get a lot of them,” said Mark Renodin, owner of Six Mile Creek Vineyard in Ithaca. “You can just walk out into our parking lot at any time in the summer. You’ll see license plates from Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont. So it brings a lot of people in the area.”
This is no accident. In 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York State Craft Act.
The law rolled back marketing restrictions of craft products like beer and wine while cutting burdensome requirements.
“Part of the increase does reflect that it’s become a priority of the state to help grow more local economy by encouraging the formation of local craft breweries and wineries,” said Ted Shepard, the economics chair at Le Moyne College.
Shepard emphasized what economists refer to as the “multiplier effect” which is when an increase in income leads to more spending, which in turn leads to more income.
In simpler terms, local companies like Six Mile Creek can spend more to ensure the quality of their product. When customers increase, so do profits. And with more tourists coming in, the hotel and restaurant industries enjoy a symbiotic type of escalation.
“I have friends from Florida, North Carolina,” said Donna, a regular Six Mile Creek customer. “They make a plan of coming here spring through fall and we do the wine tours.”
Renodin did note that the better business does tend to fluctuate with the national economy.
“Wine is not exactly a necessity. You need food. You need clothes,” Renodin admitted. “You don’t necessarily need wine. So when times are tough, we may slow down slightly.”
Communities have rallied around the concerted efforts to build and sustain local tourist economies.
And while winter months may not be kind to New York vineyards, the spring and summer are the sweet spots for Six Mile Creek.
“We like to thin that there’s a personal aspect to a lot of the wineries here in the Finger Lakes,” Renodin said. “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. In this case, it’s wine.”