ALBANY AREA RESTAURANTS OPPOSE NYS CORK TAX LEGISLATION

Area restaurant owners who specialize in boutique wines are voicing opposition to proposed legislation they say will drive up their costs and prices for their customers.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Contact: Vic Christopher, 917-693-7430
vicchristopher@aol.com

Albany Area Restaurants Oppose NYS Cork Tax Legislation

Restaurants serving boutique wines would be hurt by “At Rest” law

ALBANY, N.Y. (02/06/14) — A proposed New York law (A5125-2013 / S3849-2013) would require that wine and spirits sold in within the state must be warehoused “At Rest” in New York state for at least 24 hours prior to delivery. Currently, these products stop first in New Jersey warehouses.

“The reason the wines are warehoused in New Jersey is because all of the ports are located there,” said Dominick Purnomo, wine director / owner, Yono’s & dp An American Brasserie located at 25 Chapel St in Albany. “If they were to then truck the wines into New York for storage, that would raise prices at every level.”

Although the two largest wholesalers in the state are located in New York, many small-scale distributors currently use New Jersey warehouses. While large wholesalers generally represent mass-produced wine and spirits, the smaller distributors are known for showcasing boutique wine and spirits produced by small, independent labels.

“This is not about creating more warehouse jobs in New York City. It’s about the mega-distributors trying to create a monopoly for themselves by squeezing out their smaller competitors,” said Vic Christopher, who owns the Lucas Confectionery wine bar at 12 Second St. in Troy, along with his wife Heather LaVine. “Our business is based on natural and hand-made wines. The passing of this law will adversely impact hundreds of New York retail shops and restaurants like ours.”

A coalition made up of small wine and spirit distributors, distillers, wholesalers, vineyards and retailers from across the state is challenging the proposal. The “Stop the Cork Tax” Coalition represents 37 New York businesses dedicated to preventing the additional costs associated with the proposed “At Rest” legislation. The coalition believes that the cork tax is detrimental to New Yorkers because:

  • The cork tax is being pushed by big wholesalers to eliminate their main competition: i.e. small businesses across the state.
  • The cork tax will make it harder for New York wineries to access the NYC market.
  • The cork tax will drive up costs for New York wine and spirits by as much as $27 million a year while also reducing consumers’ choices.

While the Stop The Cork Tax Coalition is comprised of distributors, a group of Capital Region restaurateurs are standing by the coalition in voicing their opposition.

“This law will be debated in Albany, and we want the companies we do business with to know that we are here in the state capital taking a stand,” said Christopher, who has contacted his county, state and federal representatives regarding this matter.

Joe Armstrong, wine consultant at Winebow Importing located at 75 Chestnut Ridge Road, Montvale, N.J., said he fears that “two big companies are trying to use the government to eliminate their competition, resulting in the loss of jobs in thousands of wineries.”

Kevin Everleth, chef / owner of The Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark at 200 Lark St., says the “strong-arm tactic by big corporations to enhance their profile at the expense of small business” is “unacceptable. Period.”

CALL TO ACTION

Christopher urges any anyone working in the wine and spirits industry in New York to visit http://www.stopthecorktax.com to send a message to their representatives asking them to Stop The Cork Tax.

This includes all servers, chefs, bartenders, hosts, wine salesmen, store clerks, and other employees of New York retail shops and restaurants potentially affected by the law.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, and Assemblyman Joe Lentol, D-Brooklyn. To read the proposed legislation, visit:

http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S3849-2013

Contact: Vic Christopher, 917-693-7430
vicchristopher@aol.com

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