- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York’s beer, wine, cider and distilling industries celebrated another year of growth Wednesday as Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed to continue to reform Prohibition-era laws and take other steps to encourage a burgeoning sector of the state economy.

Scores of business owners, farmers and elected leaders gathered for the third annual Wine, Beer, Spirits and Cider Summit. Cuomo, a Democrat, said the state has made great strides in helping the industry, which he said can boost local agriculture and tourism as well.

“I don’t think when we first sat down any of us thought the industry could take off like it has,” Cuomo told the group. “What else can we do? What else should we be doing … if we want to push the envelope, if we want to get more aggressive.”

Since 2011, the number of farm wineries is up by 60 percent. The number of microbreweries has more than tripled. New York ranks third in the nation for wine and grape production and has the fourth-largest craft beer industry.

Industry leaders called for the state to continue to relax regulations covering the industry. Cuomo suggested further state investments in advertising as well as financing help for startup wineries and breweries. He also announced a $7 million state investment in a food research center in Ontario County that he said would yield innovative new techniques for alcohol production.

In a statement, the New York Farm Bureau hailed Cuomo’s continued focus on the industry, saying the state is taking “common-sense approaches that will support beverage makers and continue the successful growth of the industry in every region of the state.”

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