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State's cider-producing bills could benefit LI

Grapes and hops have been in the spotlight as Long Island wines and craft beers generate buzz; now it may be time for the apple to shine.

Two bills that will aid New York State's budding hard cider producers passed into law before the end of the legislative session Friday.

The New York State Senate, Assembly and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had come to an agreement on Thursday on the two bills, which would help establish farm cideries and streamline the brand label registration process for them.

The Brand Label Registration Bill and Farm Cideries Bill passed late Friday night, according to spokespeople from the Senate.

The state has already sought to encourage the growth of wineries, distilleries and breweries in New York with tax incentives and other aid.

Long Island's wineries have gained international respect in the last 40 years. And in the last five years, the number of local brewers has tripled to 15, with several more planning on opening this year.

The Farm Cideries Bill, modeled after the creation of farm wineries and farm breweries, would allow farmers that produce hard cider to open restaurants on their premises and expand the products they can sell.

Farm cideries would also be exempt from reporting sales tax information returns. To qualify, a farm cidery must use New York State-grown apples and brew no more than 150,000 gallons a year.

There are two cider operations on Long Island: Woodside Orchards in Aquebogue began producing and selling cider last year, and Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue has sold cider under the name Standard Cider Co. since 2010.

The Brand Label Registration Bill would streamline the process and eliminate certain fees for small batch producers of cider and spirits to apply for alcohol beverage labels for their products. A similar law for craft brewers and beer labels was passed last year.

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