Wine growlers? Cuomo wants to make it happen

Will Cleveland and Jon Campbell, USA Today Network

3:26 p.m. EDT May 18, 2016

ROCHESTER — Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to make it legal to grab a mimosa with Sunday brunch or leave a New York winery with a growler in hand.

Cuomo on Wednesday unveiled legislation that would reform the state’s 80-year-old Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, which, among other archaic rules, prevents restaurants from serving alcohol before noon on Sundays.

The bill from Cuomo would allow restaurants and bars obtain a permit to begin Sunday alcohol sales at 8 a.m. The State Liquor Authority would have the power to allow full liquor licenses within 200 feet of a school or place of worship.

Like breweries can already do, Cuomo’s bill would allow wineries to sell wine by the growler, re-usable, 32- or 64-ounce containers popular with beer enthusiasts. Customers also could  take home partially finished bottles of wine.

Cuomo unveiled the legislation Wednesday morning at Three Heads Brewing, a massive soon-to-open craft brewery in Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts. It came after a Cuomo-appointed working group recommended many of the changes last month.

The governor, a Democrat, noted that there is a month left in the legislative session and hopes to see it passed and enacted before lawmakers leave the Capitol.

“This is one of the bills that has to be taken up,” Cuomo said. “These laws should have been reformed 80 years ago. They should definitely be reformed this year. There’s no excuse for the legislature to leave Albany without changing this law.”

The legislation includes provisions to reduce fees for craft beverage salespeople and small wholesalers, as well as cut down on paperwork for craft manufacturers, allowing producers to combine licenses into one application.

Three Heads’ new 19,500-square-foot facility is expected to open to the public next month. Once completed, the new facility will cost about $4 million.