by Elizabeth A. Tomlin
Wine and craft beverage producers were in abundance at New York Farm Bureau’s 2016 Taste of NY Legislative Reception in Albany NY.
It was the first year KyMar Farm Winery and Distillery attended the annual event.
“We felt it was important to support the Farm Bureau in Albany,” said Bridget Mayne, Sales Manager at KyMar Farm. “The Upstate Farm Bureau has supported the craft beverage movement and their farmers since the beginning. We are appreciative of their support of us in Albany and thought this event was a great way to show our appreciation — and show our politicians all the wonderful fruits of the Farm Bureaus labor.”
Mayne said KyMar Farm enjoyed being at the event to share beverages with other New York farmers from across the State.
KyMar assistant distiller Emily Marsh, also attended the event and agrees that NY Farm Bureau has done much to promote the wine and craft beverage industry in the state.
“The Farm Bureau has done so much in supporting the craft beverage industry,” attested Marsh. “We were so happy to be able to share with them all of our products that we work so hard on — as well as to be able to thank them for everything that they do.”
KyMar Farm Winery and Distillery, located in Charlotteville, NY, is the first licensed farm winery and farm distillery in Schoharie County since prohibition and is first on the Schoharie County Beverage Trail in the state.
Owner, Head Winemaker and Head Distiller, Ken Wortz, partners with local growers for ingredients used to ferment, distill, age and bottle on site, at its 20,000 square foot production facility, tasting room and store.
Also among the many producers attending the event to showcase their products was Dawn Zarnowski, co-owner of Cortland Beer Company.
“We were invited by the Cortland NY Farm Bureau to attend the lobby day to give exposure to our Company and Cortland county farmers,” said Zarnowski. “Letting our representatives and their staff see and taste the efforts of a farm brewery is a good idea. Our farm brewery reflects how legislation can help or hinder businesses.” Zarnowski said it was excellent legislation to allow farm brewery licenses in New York. “As a result, a whole industry has arisen, with farmers now growing barley strains specifically for beer, with malt houses to sprout the barley and it has encouraged hop growers to start test plots. Upstate New York was the hop growing region that supplied all of the U.S., and some to Europe as well, a hundred years ago.”
Zarnowski said, “The Lobby Days were good to voice our opinion with the Farm Bureau against the $15 minimum wage. The wage raise can only hurt farmers and small businesses.”
Zarnowski also has a hazelnut farm called Z’s Nutty Ridge. “Educating our representative that hazels are a native crop was the second part of our visit. Our native hazels have been hybridized to have large European size and taste. We are expanding our hazel orchard and offering our hybrids for sale.”
“Educating the public about food and farming is something we take seriously,” said NY Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture Education Managing Director Sandra Prokop. “The Taste of New York reception is an effective way to have positive discussions with policy makers who may not have a real understanding of agriculture. This event helps bridge that gap.”
“This was one of the most successful lobby days we’ve held,” remarked Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau President. “And it couldn’t have come at a more pivotal time for New York agriculture. The issues that will be decided upon in Albany this year will have profound impacts on farming in this state for years to come.”
New York Farm Bureau promotes wine and craft beverages at 2016 Taste of NY Legislative Reception
by Elizabeth A. Tomlin