Dear Friends,

Now that you have had time to digest the new guidance from the SLA, I know that your attention has likely turned to the topic of labor. Let me first repeat that the new SLA guidance does not require tasting rooms to close, just no eating and drinking on the premises, and the SLA did not impose a patron limit for tasting rooms. The SLA structured their guidance to provide each business flexibility to adapt to this new reality. And, we should keep in-mind that Governor Cuomo is urging all New Yorkers to stay home as much as possible and to keep a safe distance of 6 feet from others in public spaces to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. The Governor has mandated the cessation of all on-premise sales to encourage social distancing, so wineries should use their best judgement on how many patrons can safely be in their tasting rooms at any one time, even if their patrons are just browsing for wines to-go. 

Governor Cuomo held a press conference today where he announced further work-from-home and mandatory workforce reduction requirements on businesses. Fortunately, the wine industry is exempted from these new requirements because wine manufacturing is considered part of the “food production” industry, which is an essential service.  The Department of Agriculture & Markets and the Department of Health released guidance this evening for the food production industry.  I want to acknowledge the New York Farm Bureau (NYFB) for stepping up on behalf of all of agriculture to push for this exemption ( Click to see President David Fisher’s letter to Governor Cuomo).

Not to get cheeky, but when the rubber meets the road in these critical times, this is the opportunity for trade associations to proactively step up on behalf of their industries. Like NYWGF and NYFB, WineAmerica continues to work on behalf of the United States wine industry to ensure that the Federal Government provides regulatory relief and fiscal support during this crisis. They are a valued and critically important organization that we should support. During this time, they will be offering their members only newsletter, The Weekly Harvest, for the next six weeks for free to any winery. This newsletter provides comprehensive updates on public policy originating from the Federal Government.

Back to labor, I have received some questions from wineries about unemployment insurance and reducing hours. I am in contact with a point person at the Department of Labor to assist our industry with any questions. And, actions anticipated by the Federal Government should create some additional resources and relief too. I will continue to consolidation questions related to labor and the answers via this newsletter, Facebook Page, and resources on our website.