Long Island Wine
Craft Beverage Industry Additional Links of Permitting Licensing
Craft Beverage Industry Local Zoning Authorities
Craft Beverage Industry Additional Resources
Welcome to Suffolk County’s new Craft Beverage website! On this page, you will be able find all the information you need to start your own craft beverage business here in Suffolk County. If you are looking for information to begin your own craft beverage business, please feel free to skip immediately to the FAQ below that the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services has jointly developed. If you are resident or visitor and you interested in visiting one of Suffolk County’s MANY breweries, cideries, distilleries, or vineyards, please visit ChooseLI.org for all of the craft beverage destinations that Suffolk County has to offer.
We hope this page will be helpful in your pursuit to open a new craft beverage business here in Suffolk County. Remember, Suffolk County has New York’s most diverse agricultural offerings, and we strongly encourage you use Suffolk County grown produce in your product as often as you can! To learn more about Suffolk County agriculture in general, including the types of fruits, vegetables, and grains grown, please refer to the following flyer or visit Suffolk County’s Agriculture & Fishing webpage.
Finally, if you have any additional questions about craft beverages or opening a craft beverage business, or feedback in general about the content on this page, please do not hesitate to contact August Ruckdeschel at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 631-853-4714.
Suffolk County, with a population of 1.5 million people, is Long Island's eastern-most county, and covers an area of approximately 900 square miles, 20 miles at its widest part and approximately 86 miles in length. The County boasts approximately 70 vineyards and tasting rooms, 40 craft breweries, 6 cideries, and 5 distilleries.
According to a recent analysis by the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development & Planning, Suffolk County breweries directly generate approximately 336 jobs, support over $15 million in payroll, and create nearly $50 million in sales. Using traditional economic multipliers, it is expected that these breweries in total generate nearly $85 million in economic activity and support nearly 833 jobs.
A similar analysis conducted by the Department of Economic Development & Planning determined that Suffolk’s 70 wine producers produce an estimated 1.2 million gallons of wine, directly employ nearly 900 workers, and generate $114 million in sales. Furthermore, the 1.3 million people these vineyards attract to the region generate another $99 million in tourism spending. In total, using traditional economic multipliers, the Department has determined that Suffolk County’s winemaking industry contributes nearly $250 million in economic activity and supports over 3,700 jobs. Altogether, breweries and vineyards create over $335 million in economic activity and support over 4,500 jobs!
Long Island is the youngest and fastest-growing wine region in New York, and the state is the third largest wine growing region in America only behind California and Washington. New York state wine production is two and a half times the state of Oregon’s wine yield, nearly twice of Michigan, and five times more wine than the total production of New England.
The first vineyard planted on Long Island was 17 acres of grapes planted by the Hargrave family in 1973. As of 2021, according to the Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing, 3,000 acres are planted and over 500,000 cases of wine are produced a year. There are 70 wine producers on Long Island, with 59 on the North Fork, 6 on the South Fork and 7 in Western Suffolk County.
The soils of the Long Island wine region are often likened to that of Bordeaux, which not only shares similar maritime influence, it also boasts high concentrations of gravel and sand. There, it’s alluvial in nature, of sediment deposited by the rivers, whereas Long Island is formed by glacial deposits. Bordeaux varieties, such as Merlot are widely planted on Long Island.
According to Long Island Wine Country, what makes Long Island “terroir” distinctive and impacts wine flavor profiles are its glacial soils, cool maritime climate and native flora. The soils have excellent internal drainage, modest fertility and moderate water-holding capacity, which control and limit the impact of the periodic summer rains, controlling vine growth and promoting grape ripening. The long, warm summers are tempered by cooling breezes of the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean that prevent excessive summer heat. The surrounding water gives off warmth to the East End that extends summer into a mellow fall, allowing ample time to ripen the fruit well into October and November.
Of the 759 awards granted to Long Island wines by the Wine Enthusiast, the most awarded wine is Merlot (15%) and red blends that often include Merlot (12%). Chardonnay (13%) and other white varietals (incl. gewürztraminer) (13%) follow, with Cabernet Franc (11%) and other red varietals (incl. pinot noir) at 10%. Rosé (8%), Sparkling (8%) and Sauvignon Blanc (7%) follow.
At the 2021 New York Wine Classic, the Governor’s Cup was presented to Pindar Vineyards for its 2019 Dr. Dan’s Signature Collection, Gewurztraminer from the Long Island region. In addition, Paumanok Vineyards from Long Island was presented with the ‘Winery of the Year’ award, for the best overall showing based on the level and number of awards in relation to entries.
In addition to winning the Governor’s Cup, Pindar Vineyards, based in Peconic, also received the only Platinum Medal of the competition for Best White Wine. Pindar Vineyards was founded by Dr. Herodotus “Dan” Damianos – a pioneer that helped create the winemaking industry on Long Island in the early 1980’s—and continues today to be a family-run operation. Pindar produces over 70,000 cases of wine a year, making them the largest vineyard on Long Island.
Paumanok Vineyards, located in Aquebogue, also took home from the New York Wine Classic Gold Medals in Best Vinifera Red Blend; Best Traditional Method Sparkling Wine and Best Sauvignon Blanc.
The first step to establishing a business in Suffolk County is selecting a business name. If you plan to operate a business in Suffolk County under a name other than your own, you must file a Business Certificate with the County Clerk’s Office. Once you have chosen a business name, research that business name to determine if it is available and to ensure no one else is using that Business Certificate name by accessing the Suffolk County Clerk’s Online Records website
(scroll down and accept the Use and Dissemination Agreement, then place the mouse on Searches to expand menu). Additional information about starting a business in Suffolk County can be found at https://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Business/Starting-A-Business
There are several state and local resources available to small businesses in Suffolk County. The Small Business Development Center can help you get your operation started by developing a business plan and/or helping you find financing for your operation. There are two SBDC locations in Suffolk County: Farmingdale and Stony Brook. Stony Brook’s Small Business Development Center also has an affiliation with the Business Incubator in Calverton, which is spearheading efforts to produce and market “value-added” Long Island products and produce. Please see the additional resources section below for more business resources, as well as additional loan and financing opportunities.
Businesses wishing to produce malt beverages, operate a brewpub or microbrewery or conduct an alternating proprietorship with another brewery must complete federal and state license applications before opening. A federal application must be filed and approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). After federal approval, one of the above state licenses must be acquired through the New York State Liquor Authority. As outlined above, New York State offers several different options for importation, manufacture, distribution or sale of alcohol, so you should consider which license class best suits your business model.
The type of license issued by the New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) designates a brewery as a microbrewery, a farm brewery, or a brewpub. Their differences are based on how much beer can be produced per year, as well as ingredients that are used. See below for specific details for each license:
- A microbrewery license (license code MI 101) is a brewery license with a cap on the amount of alcoholic beverages that can be produced. A microbrewer can produce no more than 60,000 barrels of beer per year but pays a reduced licensee fee. Microbrewers may NOT sell to the general public without a brewer’s retail permit. The brewer's retail permit requires several documents. Please begin with the first link, the Information Letter. For on premises consumption, the licensee must have food available for sale or service. To sell other alcoholic beverages by the glass, a brewer must obtain a Restaurant Wine License (which allows sale for on-premises consumption of wine and beer in a place where food is prepared in such quantities that the sale of wine and beer is not the prime source of revenue), Tavern Wine License (which allows sale for on-premises consumption of wine and beer) or an On-Premises Liquor License (which allows on-premises consumption of liquor, wine and beer, as well as the sale of take-out growlers, so long as they are sealed before leaving the premises). Microbrewers cannot sell beer produced by other breweries. The SLA has produced a handbook of retail licenses which can be found here. Once you have identified the appropriate license for your business, you can begin the Application for Alcoholic Beverage Control Retail License (On Premises).
- The farm brewery license (license code FD 106) is a relatively new option for brewers. Under the FD 106, brewers do not need an additional permit to serve wine, cider, and spirits by the glass made by other licensed farm wineries, farm cideries, and farm distilleries if they have the appropriate permits from NY Agriculture and Markets and/or Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS). A farm brewer can produce no more than 75,000 barrels of beer per year and makes only “New York State labelled beer,” which requires time frame-specific use of a certain percentage of locally-produced ingredients: until the end of 2018, at least 20% of the hops and 20% of all other ingredients must be grown or produced in New York State. From January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2023, no less than 60% of the hops and 60% of all other ingredients must be grown or produced in New York State. After January 1, 2024, no less than 90% of the hops and 90% of all other ingredients must be grown or produced in New York State. Farm Breweries are allowed to have up to five branch offices, where they can sell their products and other New York State labeled beer, wine and liquor, in addition to having tasting rooms, retail shops and restaurants.
- A "brewpub" is a term used to describe the restaurant-brewer license (license code MR 210), which gives the licensee a limited ability to brew beer, and distribute that beer for resale. In addition to operating a bona-fide restaurant, the licensee may produce up to 5,000 barrels of beer per location at up to five locations, not to exceed 20,000 barrels of beer per year. A restaurant will require a permit from SCDHS.
The average processing for federal licensing through the TTB’s electronic application system is 104 days for a brewery as of September 2019. Keep in mind that this is only the processing time; the license may not be necessarily be approved the first time. NYSLA processing times are generally shorter, but vary based upon the type of submission, as well as the accuracy and completeness of the application.
Yes. If your business activities include the preparation and/or serving of any food or beverages for on- or off-premises consumption a Food Establishment Permit from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS) is required. If you are preparing or serving alcoholic beverages, you will also need the permits and licenses mentioned in this FAQ. For information regarding obtaining a food permit from the SCDHS, contact:
Suffolk County Bureau of Public Health Protection
360 Yaphank Ave., Suite 2A
Yaphank, NY 11980
Permits are also required for all new construction, building additions, changes in use of existing buildings, and renovations which may affect sanitary waste flows. For more information, contact:
Suffolk County Department of Health Services
360 Yaphank Ave., Suite 2C
Yaphank, NY 11980
Towns may require additional special use permits for features such as tasting rooms. You should contact the local zoning authority to ensure that your business plan complies with acceptable land use for the area. Consult the chart on page 9 for your municipality’s appropriate division and contact information for that division.
As per the New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (ABC), the NYSLA cannot issue licenses to establishments located on the same street or avenue and within 200 feet of a building occupied exclusively as a school, church, synagogue or other place of worship. Establishments may not be able to obtain a license if they are located within 500 feet of three or more existing establishments. Additionally, each town has its own zoning standards that must be met. Be sure to be in contact with your local zoning authority (see list below) when planning new construction or changing a building’s existing use.
The first step is to determine if your facility has a septic system that is approved for your business operation. Applicants are encouraged to have a pre-meeting with the department prior to entering into a lease or purchase agreement to ensure that their proposal is acceptable under the provisions of the Suffolk County Sanitary Code (refer to: Starting a Business). The Standards for Approval of Plans and Construction for Sewage Disposal Systems for Other than Single Family Residences can be accessed here. A helpful table of project density load rates and sewage flow rates for brewery use can be found on page 16 of the linked Standards document. For more information regarding the sewage disposal or water supply facilities, contact the Suffolk County Office of Wastewater Management:
Suffolk County Department of Health Services
Office of Wastewater Management
360 Yaphank Ave., Suite 2C
Yaphank, NY 11980
Please contact the Suffolk County Sewer Agency at 631-854-4185 to determine which sewer district the property is located in. If your facility falls within a Suffolk County district, please be sure to arrange a pre-meeting with the Suffolk County Sewer Agency in the Department of Public Works and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services to develop plans for sewer connections and treatment standards.
The county HIGHLY recommends the hiring of an experienced wastewater treatment engineering design specialist to ensure that any new or additional brewing, winemaking, or distilling operations meet Suffolk County wastewater regulatory requirements. While the County does not endorse one engineering consultant over another engineering consultant, we are able to link to the following directory of specialists without any specific County endorsement. Click here for the directory.
Due to New York laws and regulations, you may need an additional permit along with your brewer’s license to conduct tastings, depending on the type of event:
Type of Brewery
Additional Permit Needed?
|Tastings on licensed premises or at branch offices
||Yes. A SCDHS permit for food and beverage service is required, depending on the scope of business. Contact the Bureau of Public Health Protection at (631) 852-5999.
|Tastings on licensed premises only
|Off-premises tastings at licensed establishments such as grocery stores, county fairs, or wholesalers
||Microbrewery, Farm Brewery, Brewpub
||Yes; Temporary SLA special event permit required.
|Off-premises tastings at any of the following: establishments licensed under the law to sell beer at retail, the State Fair, non-profit farmers markets, outdoor events approved by NYSLA.
||Microbrewery, Farm Brewery, Brewpub
||Yes; An SLA Marketing permit is required.
*Important: This outline is a general FAQ and informational guide for starting a microbrewery, farm brewery, or brewpub operation. It is designed only to be a handy reference guide to general business requirements, and is not intended to offer legal or financial advice.
Discover Long Island’s website lists local microbreweries and vineyards on an interactive Long Island Craft Beverage Trail Map. Build and personalize your own brewery, vineyard, and epicurean experience here.
Empire State Development has a “One-Stop Shop” to promote the beer, wine, spirits, and cider industry and to provide easy and intuitive access to permits, licenses, incentives, and additional information. You can also contact the industry point person, Stefan Fleming, directly at 858-206-2779 or at email@example.com.
Long Island Development Corporation (LIDC) is part of a 501C3 not-for-profit economic development family providing a variety of low cost loan programs and free technical assistance to help businesses and not-for-profit organizations in New York, concentrating on Long Island. For more information visit www.lidc.org or call (516)-433-5000.
New York State Brewery Sustainability Initiative - The New York State Brewery Sustainability Initiative is focused on providing practical sustainability tools and approaches to craft breweries in New York State to measurably reduce water, energy usage and optimize cleaning procedures. This initiative provides opportunities for craft breweries to take advantage of available funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
PSEG LI has energy efficiency opportunities available for commercial businesses opening and/or expanding their operation. You may also qualify for Economic Development programs for small businesses and growing companies.
Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) provides financial incentives for expansion, new construction, and equipment purchases for not-for-profit and for-profit projects. Call (631)-853-4802 or visit their website.
Suffolk County Submission and Status Terminal is a web portal that enables applicants to track the progress of their Wastewater application in real time. Applicants can create profiles to track multiple applications or track an application by the tax map number of their home or business.
Suffolk County Downtown Revitalization Grants support redevelopment and revitalization of Suffolk County’s downtowns. Funding is available for capital projects located in or adjacent to downtown areas on municipally-owned property. Applicants must partner with their local municipality. Funds are awarded on a competitive merit-based scoring system.
The Stony Brook University Incubator at Calverton is an economic development center designated to foster the growth and success of entrepreneurial companies. The facility in Calverton features an Agriculture Consumer Science Center and an Open Kitchen and is specifically tailored to suit the agricultural and food-services industries. The main goal of the incubator is to provide services and resources that will enable entrepreneurs to grow and leave the program financially sound. Conveniently located near the heart of the Suffolk County agricultural sector, the Calverton Incubator offers the resources necessary to experiment with new recipes and market new products. This new facility includes modernized kitchen, processing, and storage utilities which are being made available at affordable rental rates. Applications to rent space at the Stony Brook University Incubator at Calverton can be found here.