FDA Issues Final Guidance on Chain Restaurant Menu Labeling

by Michael Kaiser

5.2.16

A common practice of federal agencies is to make announcements at the close of the business day on a Friday. The Food and Drug Administration did just that this past Friday, when they announced their final guidance on chain restaurant menu labeling. As we have been reporting on over the last year, alcohol is included in the menu labeling requirements for establishments of 20 or more locations of the same brand. (see our latest update here) The FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act that was passed at the end of last year delayed the implementation of menu labeling rule until one year after FDA published their final guidance on the rule. With the publication expected in the Federal Register as early as next week, the final rule on menu labeling will be implemented in May 2017.

Of note to alcohol producers is the adoption of TTB calculated calorie content and nutritional information. That is, a covered establishment (a Red Lobster, Olive Garden, etc) can refer to the USDA database to determine the calorie content of the beverage. The USDA calculation is based on the alcohol content of the product. When listing the product on the menu, it is based on the way the product is served at the restaurant. If it is a wine served by the glass, the content of the 5 ounce (standard serving size) is what needs to be listed. If if by the bottle, the restaurant has the option to state the total caloric content of the bottle, or per the recommended serving size.

We must stress, the burden of acquiring the information for the menu is on the covered establishment and not the producer. If a restaurant is asking a winery for the information, the winery can refer the restaurant to the USDA database and no product testing is required.

To view the final FDA guidance on menu labeling, please visit this page.

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Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs, mkaiser@wineamerica.org.

WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations.  As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy

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Wine Country Congressmen Introduce Bill to Reduce Wine Excise Taxes

by Michael Kaiser

4.14.16

Alcohol excise taxes are a hot topic on Capitol HIll of late. This week we see another bill introduced that would lower federal excise taxes for wine. A bi-partisan bill, the Wine Excise Tax Modernization Act of 2016 (H.R. 4934), has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Dave Riechert (R-WA) and would specifically focus on federal wine excise taxes.  The major provisions of the bill are:

Expanding Tax Credits

Under present law, wine is subject to an excise tax of between $1.07 and $3.40 per gallon, based on alcohol content and carbonation level. Qualifying small domestic wineries producing 250,000 wine gallons or less are eligible for a tax credit (Small Producer Tax Credit) generally equal to 90 cents per gallon on the first 100,000 gallons produced, with that benefit phasing out between 150,000 gallons and 250,000 gallons. This provision removes the phase out and replaces the credit with a new tiered credit system for wine produced in the U.S. or imported as follows:

  • 1.00 credit for the first 30,000 wine gallons produced
  • $0.90 credit for the next 100,000 wine gallons produced (30,001 to 130,000)
  • $0.535 for the next 620,000 wine gallons produced (130,001 to 750,000)
  • All wine produced over 750,000 will be taxed at the regular rate.
  • In addition, this provision removes the existing prohibition against claiming the credit for naturally sparkling wines.
  • Would also reduce the tax rate for sparkling and carbonated wine from $3.40 and $3.30, respectively to $1.07.

Expands the Alcohol Threshold for Table Wine

Under present  law, still wine is taxed at different rates based on alcohol content. Still wine containing not more than 14% alcohol by volume is taxed at $1.07. Still wine above 14% and less than 21% alcohol by volume is taxed at $1.57 per gallon. It is important to note that for labeling purposes alcohol content in wine may vary from the stated amount within certain tolerances, however no such tolerances exist for tax purposes. The would provide that wines up to 16% alcohol by volume qualify for the $1.07 tax rate, raising the threshold for table wine from 14% to 16%.

Increases Carbonation Tolerance Levels for Low Alcohol Wines

Current law provides a tolerance for still wine of 0.392 gram of carbon dioxide per hundred milliliters of wine, which is generally taxed at $1.07 per wine gallon. Wines exceeding this limitation are taxed as “sparkling wine” at either $3.30 or $3.40 per wine gallon. This bill would increase that tolerance to 0.64 gram of carbon dioxide per hundred milliliters of wine.  

Congressmen Thompson and Riechert want to see federal excise tax reform, and to that end, they have also come out in support of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act  (see more information here). WineAmerica believes that the best chance for federal alcohol excise tax reform is through the larger reform bill and will be working with our alcohol industry colleagues to secure passage of the larger tax package.

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Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs, mkaiser@wineamerica.org.

WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations.  As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy

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Senate Works to Lower Wine Excise Taxes (April 13 Update)

The amendment was dropped from consideration on the bill. We will be considering other legislative options with our alcohol industry coalition partners.

Craft Beverage Reform and Tax Modernization Act Introduced as Amendment to FAA Bill

by Michael Kaiser

4.7.16

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) have introduced the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill. The FAA, like any independent federal agency, is required to be reauthorized every few years by Congress in order to be fully funded. Often times, other policy items (or riders) are added by amendment to an unrelated bill in order to secure passage. The FAA reauthorization is currently being debated in the Senate and could be voted on as early as next week.

As we reported last year, the CBMTRA is a comprehensive alcohol excise tax reform bill containing tax provisions for every alcohol commodity. WineAmerica was neutral on the bill as originally written (see our initial analysis here), but worked over the course of the Summer and Fall of 2015 to secure an agreement that was more beneficial to the American wine industry. The bill was close to being added to the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill but that effort fell short at the last minute. The bill has now been revived this past week.

The specific provisions for wine are as follows:

Expands Tax Credits for All Wineries

Under present law, wine is subject to an excise tax of between $1.07 and $3.40 per gallon, based on alcohol content and carbonation level. Qualifying small domestic wineries producing 250,000 wine gallons or less are eligible for a tax credit (Small Producer Tax Credit) generally equal to 90 cents per gallon on the first 100,000 gallons produced, with that benefit phasing out between 150,000 gallons and 250,000 gallons. This provision removes the phase out and replaces the credit with a new tiered credit system for wine produced in the U.S. or imported as follows:

  • 1.00 credit for the first 30,000 wine gallons produced
  • $0.90 credit for the next 100,000 wine gallons produced (30,001 to 130,000)
  • $0.535 for the next 620,000 wine gallons produced (130,001 to 750,000)
  • All wine produced over 750,000 will be taxed at the regular rate.
  • In addition, this provision removes the existing prohibition against claiming the credit for naturally sparkling wines.

Expands the Alcohol Threshold for Table Wine

Under current law, still wine is taxed at different rates based on alcohol content. Still wine containing not more than 14% alcohol by volume is taxed at $1.07. Still wine above 14% and less than 21% alcohol by volume is taxed at $1.57 per gallon. It is important to note that for labeling purposes alcohol content in wine may vary from the stated amount within certain tolerances, however no such tolerances exist for tax purposes. The CBMTRA would provide that wines up to 16% alcohol by volume qualify for the $1.07 tax rate, raising the threshold for table wine from 14% to 16%.

Increases Carbonation Tolerance Levels for Low Alcohol Wines

Current law provides a tolerance for still wine of 0.392 gram of carbon dioxide per hundred milliliters of wine, which is generally taxed at $1.07 per wine gallon. Wines exceeding this limitation are taxed as “sparkling wine” at either $3.30 or $3.40 per wine gallon. The CBMTRA would increase that tolerance to 0.64 gram of carbon dioxide per hundred milliliters of wine for wines produced primarily from grape or solely from honey and water (mead), which do not contain any other fruit and contains no more than 8.5% alcohol by volume.

WineAmerica supports the passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reduction Act. This is the first time wine, beer and spirits have all been supportive of the same federal tax reform package. We commend Senators Wyden and Blunt for introducing the CBMTRA as an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill and look forward to working with them and our industry partners to ensure passage in the Senate and then turn our focus to the House of Representatives.

 

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Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs, mkaiser@wineamerica.org.

WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations.  As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy

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WineAmerica Commends Arizona Passage of Expanded Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Bill

4.4.2016

by Michael Kaiser

WineAmerica almost exclusively focuses on federal policy, but every once in a while we get involved in a state-specific issue if the end result has a positive outcome for the American wine industry. To that end, we commend Arizona for enacting a new law that would expand direct-to-consumer wine shipping.

Current Arizona law states that wineries producing 20,000 gallons or less (which works out to 8,412 cases) or less can ship wine directly to Arizona consumers unless the consumer was present at the winery when the wine was purchased. The new law (SB 1381) removes the winery visitation requirement and opened shipping to all wineries.

The new law provides for a limited, regulated and tax paid shipping by American wineries who obtain a license from the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control. The new licenses will begin to be issued no later than January 1, 2017. There is a gradual increase in the amount of wine that can be shipped to an individual consumer in the three years after the new law goes into effect: 6 cases through 2017; 9 cases in 2018; and 12 cases beginning in 2019 and thereafter. The law includes safeguards to prevent wine being shipped to minors.

WineAmerica worked with the Wine Institute, Washington Wine Institute, Oregon Winegrowers Association, and the Arizona Winegrowers Association to ensure passage of the new law.

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Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs, mkaiser@wineamerica.org.

WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations.  As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy

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The Craft Beverage Expo and ShipCompliant Direct: WineAmerica Registration Discounts

WineAmerica members qualify for registration discounts at two exciting and dynamic conferences.

Craft Beverage Expo

WineAmerica is a supporter of the third annual Craft Beverage Expo, being held in Oakland, California this May 18-20. The Craft Beverage is a cross commodity conference and trade show focusing on post production products and education. WineAmerica members will receive a 15% discount.  To get the code for the discount please contact us at mkaiser@wineamerica.org. For more information, please visit the Craft Beverage Expo website.

ShipCompliant Direct

Join the wine community and help shape our industry as we Build Tomorrow at ShipCompliant’s 11th annual DIRECT Conference on June 23-24 in San Francisco!

Come hear from industry experts and motivational keynote speakers who will discuss innovation and the future of our industry, build relationships in the wine community, and share best practices with your peers. DIRECT is the most well-attended event in the industry every year, with hundreds of wine industry representatives present, including wine club managers, heads of marketing and hospitality, compliance managers, shipping department managers, winery owners, third-party marketers, and trade media.

This year’s conference will feature industry experts including:
  • Steve Gross, Vice President, State Relations, Wine Institute
  • Susan Evans, Executive Liaison for Industry and State Matters, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
Learn more and register here.
WineAmerica Members receive 10% off registration. To get your promo code, send and email to mkaiser@wineamerica.org.