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Craft breweries, wineries garner attention from downstate business leaders

Ilan Stern

You might call it “show-and-tell” for some local craft breweries and wineries. The industries are thriving in Western New York and some potential investors are taking notice.The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, working with the Empire State Development Corporation, dispatched several representatives from the alcohol industry to the Buffalo-Niagara region this week as a part of its Drink Local Campaign. The initiative aims to cross-promote the craft alcohol industry statewide.

The group arrived in Buffalo on Tuesday  for a three-day excursion that will include visits to 14 local breweries, wineries and distilleries.

Michael Brooks, owner of Bed-Vyne Wine and Spirits in Brooklyn, talked with WBFO about his initial reactions.

“Well I definitely am impressed with the wine growing region in Niagara County,” he said. “We went to Arrowhead Winery and the quality of wines they’re producing was really impressive. Especially, the body they were able to get from their Cabernet Sauvignons and their Syrahs, which is something I’ve never seen in New York State before. So that actually blew me away.”

Peter Lengyel, co-owner of Kings County Brewers Collective, agreed with Brooks, adding that he likes the focus of locally-grown ingredients in the production of Western New York’s beer and wine.

Beer is a perishable item and is difficult to ship, but Lengyal believes he may have a solution to eliminate barrel and keg disposal.

Credit Ilan Stern
Kevin Johnson of Bedford Hall, Rob Haag of 12 Gates brewing, Pete Lengyel of Kings County Brewers, Clara Detzell of bed-Vyne, and Allan Duvall of Brooklyn Brewery tour part in the tour.

“Shipping it in-state is also kind of a hassle especially for small breweries that are wanting to do their own self-distribution because they have to get the cooperage back,” he said. “I was speaking with one of the brewers at one of the places we stopped at, maybe working a deal where they can ship kegs down to us, we sell the product, and then fill it with ours and send it back up.”

The craft beer and winery industry had a $3.5 billion annual impact for New York State in some recent years, according to a report provided for the New York State Brewers Foundation and the New York Wine and Grape Foundation.

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Vice President Ilan Stern said collaborations across geographic boundaries could help promote the industry’s continued growth.

“We need to focus on the real people making a difference in terms of the workforce that’s really provided in the state and support our craft industry. And the way to do that starts at the bottom so we need to inform people about what it means to be a craft brewer or distiller or whatever in the industry and really educate them on how the flavor profiles are different and how it’s unique.”

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