Special permits provide a little fun this summer

As the weather warms up – eventually – we can look forward to the many county fairs and farmers markets that are sure to liven up any summer day/night.

Many of us over the age of 21 enjoy having the occasional beer or glass of wine while at these events. Prior to getting familiar with the hospitality industry, I was curious as to why there was never liquor available at these events. I came to the logical conclusion that the only reason beer and wine were offered was to highlight the brewers and wineries different flavors and to allow them to expand their consumer base. I, of course, did not consider the additional legal reasons for the absence of liquor.

Currently, the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) allows small wine manufacturers, brewers and beer wholesalers (in-state & out-of-state) to obtain a special event permit in order to sell their products “by the glass”.

SLA Advisory 2012-9 explains that in the past, manufacturers and wholesalers were not permitted to apply for permits to sell beer/wine at outdoor events. Amendments to §97 later allowed certain brewers, beer wholesalers and licensed manufacturers to apply for these special events permits. Finally, last year, Governor Cuomo signed legislation permitting both in-state and out-of-state wine manufacturers to also apply and obtain these permits and allow them to sell and promote their products at state and county fairs as well as farmers markets.

It is important to note that as of January 2013, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to allow licensed farm distilleries to hold liquor tastings and sell their NY State products at these events. More information can be found at our article “Hot Dog and vodka please“. To learn whether or not your winery or brewery is eligible for these permits, contact an experienced attorney or visit the SLA website.