Seemingly contradictory interpretations of the farm winery law by the Authority

Even though cider is apple wine, New York State Liquor Authority Licensing Unit 1 advises that custom production of wine for customers does not include cider (apple wine). However, Licensing Unit 1 also states that all of the privileges and restrictions that apply to wine under the NY Farm winery law apply to cider. A licensee asked me to clarify how these are consistent, and frankly, they are not. Let’s examine the text of the ABC law.

Looking at the definitions of wine and cider in the ABC law below, it seems clear that apple wine is wine as defined in Section 36. Section 7-b (b) also acknowledges that a product can meet both the definition of a wine and a cider simultaneously. Lastly, section 76-a (2)(a) allows a farm winery to produce wine and cider. Thus, I am not clear why the Authority takes the position that custom cider making at a farm winery is not legal under the current statute.

36.  “Wine” means the product of the normal alcoholic fermentation of the juice of fresh, sound, ripe grapes, or other fruits or  plants with the usual cellar treatment and necessary additions to correct defects due to climatic, saccharine and seasonal conditions,   including champagne, sparkling and fortified wine of an alcoholic content not to exceed twenty-four per centum by volume. Wine produced from fruits or plants  other than grapes shall include appropriate prefixes descriptive of the fruit or the product  from  which  such  wine  was  predominantly produced,  and no other product shall be called “wine” unless designated as artificial or imitation wine.

7-b.  (a)  “Cider” means the partially or fully fermented juice of fresh, whole apples or other pome fruits, containing more than three and two-tenths per centum but not more than eight and  one-half  per  centum alcohol  by  volume: (i) to which nothing has been added to increase the alcoholic content produced by natural fermentation; and  (ii)  with  the usual  cellar  treatments and necessary additions to correct defects due to climate, saccharine levels and seasonal conditions. Nothing contained  in this subdivision shall be deemed to preclude the use of such  methods  or  materials  as  may  be  necessary  to  encourage  a normal alcoholic  fermentation and to make a  product  that  is  free  of  microbiological  activity  at  the time of sale. Cider may be sweetened or flavored after fermentation with fruit juice, fruit  juice  concentrate,  sugar,  maple  syrup,  honey,  spices  or other agricultural products, separately or in  combination. Cider may contain retained or added carbon dioxide.

(b) In the event that an alcoholic beverage meets  the  definition  of both  a cider, as defined in this subdivision, and a wine, as defined in  subdivision thirty-six of this section, the brand or  trade  name  label  owner  of such alcoholic beverage shall designate whether such alcoholic  beverage shall be sold as a cider or a wine for all purposes under  this chapter.

§ 76-a. Farm  winery  license. 2. A farm winery license shall authorize the holder thereof to: (a)  operate a farm winery for the manufacture of wine or cider at the premises specifically designated in the license; 9. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a  farm  winery  licensed  pursuant  to  this  section  may engage in custom wine  production allowing individuals to assist in the production of wine  for  sale  for  personal  or family use, provided, however, that (a) the wine  must be purchased by the individual assisting in the production of  such wine;  and  (b)  the  owner,  employee  or agent of such winery shall be  present at all times during such production.

What do you think? Do you think the farm winery law should allow custom production of cider a/k/a apple wine?