April 16 – Washington D.C.
We have wrapped up the 2015 National Wine & Grape Policy Conference here in Washington D.C. It has been an active two days! The cherry blossoms were in bloom as members of WineAmerica and Winegrape Growers of America gathered for two days of policy discussions.
The leading issues facing our industry include Canada potentially leveraging retaliatory tariffs on imported American wine. Canada is the largest consumer of American wine, with 1 billion in sales. Tariffs would deeply damage sales and cost market share for years to come. TTB funding was also a leading issue. The TTB is underfunded, leading to long wait times for label approval and other regulatory issues. WineAmerica is asking Congress to appropriate additional funds to streamline the regulatory process. Panel discussions included subjects on immigration, tax reform and sustainability.
The WineAmerica board meeting included welcoming Donnie Winchell of the Ohio Wine Producers Association as chair of the State and Regional Association Advisory Council. Thank you to the out-going chair Kevin Atticks from the Maryland Wine Association for his work during his three year term. WineAmerica also welcomed its newest member Treasury Wine Estates. Debra Dommen, Vice-President of Government and Community Affairs was in attendance. Treasury’s California holdings include Beringer and Chateau St. Jean.
Tuesday morning featured Representative Mike Thompson as the keynote speaker. Mr. Thompson (D CA-5) as long been a supporter of the wine industry, including co-founding the Congressional Wine Caucus in 1999.
After hearing from policy experts, WineAmerica members went to Capitol Hill to meet with their representatives. Lead by government affairs team Myers & Associates, WineAmerica leadership met with the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Rep. Michael Conaway (R TX-11), staff from the Majority Senate Agriculture Committee and staff from the Minority Senate Agriculture Committee, and the Senior Policy Advisor to Mitch McConnell Senate Majority Leader.
The conference culminated with a wine tasting featuring 78 wines from 38 wineries in 25 states. Members of Congress were able to try wines from their home districts and sample wines from non-traditional regions. You can view the photos here. Thank you to all the WineAmerica members who provided wine.
The next WineAmerica meeting will be held in Lexington, KY October 26-27. The Fall Meeting will bring together the local and the national industry, will feature policy education and interaction with congressional offices in their home district.
Stay tuned for the WineAmerica board meeting minutes. They will be sent out next week and posted to the members only section of the WineAmerica website.
Thank you for supporting 2015 National Wine & Grape Policy Conference. We look forward to seeing you in Kentucky!
Thank you to all the members who provided wine.
Dos Cabezas WineWorks
Jackson Family Wines
Treasury Wine Estates
Philip Jamison Jones Winery
Tiger Mountain Vineyards
Blue Sky Vineyard
Illinois Sparkling Company
Tassel Ridge Winery
Chateau Grand Traverse
St. Julian Wine Company
Les Bourgeois Vineyards
Mac’s Creek Vineyards and Winery
Hopewell Valley Vineyards
Matheson Wine Company
Anthony Road Wine Company
Wooldridge Creek Winery
Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery
L’Ecole No 41, Maryhill Winery