In 1976, the New York Farm Winery Act gave impetus to vineyards around the state and enabled the development of a force in the American winemaking industry. Now Gov. Eliot Spitzer has signed a bill that makes it legal for farmers to distill what they grow.
The new law makes it easier for distilleries to get off the ground and will likely cause a number of wineries from Long Island to Lake Erie to immediately go into the brandy business. One apple farm near Syracuse, Beak & Skiff, says it plans to start making vodka using apples grown at the farm when the law kicks in in three months.
The emergence of artisan distilleries across the U.S. is a throw back to a time when frontier farmers would distill so that they could more easily ship perishable farm commodities and had a cash crop to help fund farm expenses.