Increasing Tasting Room Sales in New York by Lowering Excise Taxes to Canadian Customers

The Niagara region has 8-10% Canadian visitors. The Thousand Islands have 15-30% Canadian visitors. In the Finger Lakes, Canadians only account for 4-6% of its visitors, however, they have more than twice the volume of visitors as the Niagara Region. Bottom line: Canadians bring a significant amount of tourism revenue to New York. A day trip to New York wine country is a popular and affordable destination.

Tasting room sales account for most of the retail sales for small New York wineries. Although wineries may sell wine related products or food products, wine sales generally account for 80-95% of a winery’s total sales. Bottom line number two: to be economically viable and competitive, New York wineries need to be able to sell wine in their tasting rooms to their Canadian Visitors.

However, there is a barrier to the success of this objective. Canadian visitors are subject to a 62 cent per liter duty and an almost 40% excise tax for the Province of Ontario. New York wineries complain this makes it nearly impossible to sell their wines to Canadian visitors – it is simply cost prohibitive with these added costs when tourists cross the border to return home.

A change in this trade policy will especially benefit wineries near the Canadian border such as the Niagara Escarpment, Thousand Islands and Finger Lakes. Removal of these excise taxes and duties will increase retail sales of the wines at the wineries by about 2.5 million dollars annually. This will have a positive impact on the western New York economy since every $1 in wine sale generates $7.86 in supporting upstream and downstream business. It is beyond contention that this would benefit the New York tourism, agricultural and viticultural industries. I encourage you to contact your federal representatives and urge them to support economic partnerships between the U.S. and Canada and strengthen our local economy.