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Cuomo Holds Summit Touting State’s Alcoholic Beverage Industry

Beer Steins

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ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York state alcoholic beverage industry was on display Tuesday at a summit organized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and focused on bolstering the business.

Cuomo said New York state is home to more than 600 wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries, and ranks third in the nation in wine and grape production.

The state’s alcoholic beverage industry employed 85,000 people and the combination of manufacturing, agriculture, distribution and retail had an economic impact of $27 billion in 2012, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association and New York Wine and Grape Foundation.

“At the end of the day for this state to do well it’s all about creating jobs, it’s all about stimulating the economy,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said that the state has invested $60 million in ads and promotion for the alcoholic beverage industry.

The state Liquor Authority and industry groups said New York ranks second national in sales of spirits, third in wine and cider, and fourth in beer.

While Cuomo was touting the industry’s achievements, some local winery owners took the opportunity to call for a ban on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking — saying the gas drilling technology could contaminate the water crucial for alcohol production and destroy the industry.

Fracking is a drilling process that frees gas from deep rock deposits by injecting wells with chemical-laced water at high pressure.

Environmental groups and other critics believe the chemicals released through fracking have polluted drinking water supplies. In 2010, filmmaker Josh Fox documented serious concerns about fracking across the country in the documentary “Gasland,” after he was asked personally to lease his land for drilling.

Some of the most sensational images in “Gasland” show flames erupting around water running from a sink spigot in a Pennsylvania town near a fracking site.

Cuomo held the first summit for brewers, wineries, farmers and spirit producers two years ago. The state has been helping the businesses since then with marketing efforts, streamlined licensing and regulations, and legislation. The number of microbreweries has more than doubled since then, from 40 to 93.

Cuomo has also held summits to boost the state’s tourism and Greek yogurt businesses.

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