Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced this week that applications for new licenses to operate farm meaderies are now being accepted. The new craft beverage manufacturing license is similar to those currently available for farm wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries. Mead, or “honey wine,” is an alcoholic beverage that is manufactured by fermenting honey with water, and can be infused with fruits, spices, herbs and flowers. Governor Cuomo first proposed the creation of farm meaderies in his Fiscal Year 2019 Executive Budget proposal.
“By creating this new license, we are building on New York’s nation-leading craft beverage industry while capitalizing on our standing as the number one honey producer in the Northeast,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York’s craft beverages are second to none, and we are steadfast in our commitment to supporting our local craft beverage producers who are creating jobs, promoting tourism and contributing to the Empire State’s booming economy.”
Legislation signed by Governor Cuomo on December 28, 2018 authorizes the licensing of farm meaderies for the manufacture and sale of mead made exclusively from New York State produced honey. Additionally, a new mead producers license was created, which does not require honey sourced exclusively in New York. The annual cost for the new farm meadery license is $75 and the annual cost for a mead producer license is $125.
The legislation allows meaderies to produce “braggot,” as well, a malt beverage made from honey, malt, hops, fruits, spices, herbs and other agricultural products. The new law defines New York State labeled mead and braggot as craft beverages made exclusively with honey produced in New York. Farm meaderies may conduct tastings of their products at their manufacturing facilities, while mead producers may conduct tastings of beverages produced with 100 percent New York State ingredients.
Farm meaderies have additional privileges, including the ability to sell their products by the glass or by the bottle from their manufacturing facilities or tasting rooms, in addition to any other wine, beer, cider or spirits produced by a New York State farm manufacturer. As with other craft beverage licenses, farm meaderies have the privilege of self-distribution, in addition to the ability to market and sell their products through existing wholesalers. Farm meaderies may also operate up to five no-fee offsite branch offices with tasting rooms anywhere in the state. These expanded privileges are credited with spurring New York’s current craft beverage boom: since the Governor’s 2013 Farm Brewery law was enacted, 232 new farm breweries have been opened, and since the 2014 Farm Cidery law was enacted, 42 new cideries have opened statewide.
New York now ranks in the top five states in the U.S. for its number of craft beverage producers in every category. The state ranks first in the U.S. for the number of hard cider producers, second in craft distillers, third in breweries, and fourth for the total number of wineries.