WineAmerica Board Meeting Brings New Leadership and New Members

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Michael Kaiser

Director of Public Affairs

202-223-5172

mkaiser@wineamerica.org

May 26, 2015

Washington, DC – WineAmerica, the National Association of American Wineries, took part in the annual National Wine and Grape Policy Conference this week in Washington, DC.  Held in conjunction with Winegrape Growers of America, the three-day conference attracts wine industry leaders from across the country to meet and weigh in on the most pressing public policy issues affecting growers and wineries.

This year, industry leaders from all over the United States were in attendance, representing wineries, growers and state associations.  Subjects covered included federal excise tax reform, music licensing guidelines and the overall political climate in Washington, DC.  The event culminated with the Wines of America Congressional reception held in the Rayburn Gold Room, where members of Congress, their staff and selected guests sampled wines from 27 states.

New Leadership

Concurrently, the WineAmerica Board of Directors meeting was also held, where the board thanked Caroline Shaw, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Jackson Family Wines, for her two years of service as Chair of the organization.

The new WineAmerica Chairman of the Board is Trent Preszler, CEO of Bedell Cellars on the North Fork of Long Island. Trent has served on the board of WineAmerica since 2008 and the board of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation since 2004, where he is also Chairman. Trent earned an MS in Agricultural Economics and a PhD in Viticulture & Enology, both from Cornell University. He also worked in The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Clinton Administration.

“I am thrilled to take the reins of WineAmerica and continue the robust growth and success we experienced under the leadership of my predecessor, Caroline Shaw,” said Preszler. “The future of WineAmerica is bright, and there are more compelling reasons than ever for American wineries to join our grassroots public policy mission.”

Assuming the position of Vice Chair of the Board is Martin Clubb of L’Ecole No. 41 in the Walla Walla Valley of Washington. Marty is a long time WineAmerica Board member and is currently the President of the Washington Wine Institute. Marty is the Managing Winemaker and co-owner of L’Ecole No. 41 with his wife Megan. Marty was also instrumental in the founding of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance and served as its president for six years. Marty worked with other industry pioneers in the development of the Walla Walla Community College Center for Enology and Viticulture. He earned a chemical engineering degree from Texas A&M University.

New Members

The WineAmerica Board also appointed Dana Huber from Huber Winery in Starlight, Indiana to the open seat from the Great Lakes region. Dana and her husband Ted run Huber Winery and Starlight Distillery. Founded in 1978, Huber Winery is a pioneer in the Indiana wine industry, and they have since expanded into a diverse farm that grows many fruits and vegetables. In 2000 the Hubers founded Starlight Distillery, the first licensed distillery to open in Indiana. Ms. Huber joins another recently appointed Board member, Janie Brooks Heuck of Brooks Winery in Oregon.

WineAmerica would also like to highlight some of our latest members who have joined from our recent membership drive. St. James Winery, a key leader in the Missouri and Midwest wine industry has rejoined the organization, and will be a key member for us in that region. Other leading wineries to join WineaAmerica this spring are Leelanau Cellars in Michigan, Three Brothers Winery and Estate in New York and Dutton-Goldfied Winery in Sonoma County, California.

The next WineAmerica Board of Directors meeting will at the Allison Hotel and Resort in Dundee, Oregon from November 2-3, 2016.

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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.

For more information, visit www.wineamerica.org.

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California Regulation Requires Warning Labels for BPA

by Michael Kaiser

5.25.16

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has issued emergency regulations that would require manufacturers, including wineries, to warn consumers about the chemical called bisephenol A (BPA). OEHHA has listed BPA as a female reproductive toxicant under Proposition 65. Proposition 65 is decades old ballot initiative that protects California citizens and the state drinking water from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. BPA is the latest chemical added to the list. BPA is commonly used in synthetic corks and plastic liners in screwcaps and an linings. Two alternative closures that wineries have been using for years.

As of May 11, any winery that manufactures, imports or distributes in California a product containing BPA must provide a warning to consumers. The warning needs to state:

WARNING: Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to the State of California to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. 

Retailers and tasting rooms are required to post 5” X 5” signs at the point of sale. OEHHA emergency regulations also require that a BPA warning be posted prior to a California consumer purchase of wine via the Internet. The warning should be visible to consumers at the check-out point on winery websites.

For more information go to: www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/BPA.

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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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