Here's more news from Jim Tresize of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation:
Wine trails have been a major reason that wine country tourist visits have mushroomed from 340,000
in 1985 to over 5,000,000 today.
And a big part of wine trails' success
has been standardized highway signage (green grape cluster symbols)
leading visitors to and through the trails.
It's classic economic
development: small investment, huge return.
Most wine trails are all set, but there are several (Niagara, Long Island, Adirondack Coast, Upper Hudson) that need either entirely new legislation to officially create the trial to allow signage or amend legislation to expand and improve signs.
For many years, the state Department of Transportation was difficult to deal with on this issue, but now the department is absolutely great. The governor supports the program, the state Senate has passed legislation but unfortunately, the bill has stalled in an Assembly committee.
So, thanks to coordination by Julie Suarez of New York Farm Bureau, I and several wine trail representatives spent April 30 in Albany trying to shake things loose.
Timing is key -- if the legislation is passed by the Assembly in the next two months, it will be lost for another year. It's a lose-lose situation for the trails wineries, tourists, local communities and the state of New York.