TTB Issues Guidelines for Elimination of Bond Requirement

By Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs

11.8.2016

The TTB has issued initial guidelines for the elimination of the bond requirement for certain alcohol producers. As part of the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, wine producers that are expected to pay $50,000 or less in federal excise taxes in a year will be exempt from the federal bond requirement. The TTB was mandated by law to issue guidance on the new bonding rules by December 31. The guidance that was issued yesterday clarifies the procedures wine producers who qualify for the exemption will need to take in 2017. WineAmerica worked for the passage of the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, and you can read our analysis of the provision here. 

The TTB has stated that existing producers who will meet the new bond exemption must inform the TTB they are eligible. Producers can start amending their permits to reflect the bond exemption after January 1, but they cannot do that until they have paid all of their 2016 federal excise taxes.  For NEW producers, if someone sends in a permit application before January 1, 2017 they will NOT be eligible for the bond exemption.
The TTB has updated the COLAs Online system to allow for easy amendment to existing permits. If wineries wish to amend their permits on paper, that is also an option.
WineAmerica expects to see more information about the bond exemption before the end of the year.
 For more information please contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs, mkaiser@wineamerica.org

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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.

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WineAmerica Board Meets with Local Industry and Congressional Leaders in Oregon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Michael Kaiser

Director of Public Affairs

202-223-5172

mkaiser@wineamerica.org

November 4, 2016

WineAmerica, the National Association of American Wineries, just concluded its annual Fall Board of Directors Conference in Newberg, Oregon, highlighted by presentations from two influential Washington policymakers.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) spoke to a crowd of over a hundred wine industry leaders from Oregon and around the country. WineAmerica has been working tirelessly with Senator Wyden on his landmark Federal alcohol excise tax reform legislation. If passed, this historic initiative would provide an economic jolt to the wine industry and would create a business environment that would allow the industry to thrive for years to come. Representative Bonamici has been a key supporter of the Oregon wine industry, and is also a co-sponsor of the House version of Senator Wyden’s tax legislation.

“The fact that we had two of our leading Congressional champions at the WineAmerica conference illustrates the importance of the wine industry and WineAmerica in Washington, DC,” said said Trent Preszler, PhD, CEO of Bedell Cellars on Long Island, NY and current WineAmerica Board Chair. “We were honored to host Representative Bonamici and Senator Wyden.”

The two-day meeting included a listening session with leaders of the Oregon wine industry, election of a new member of the Board of Directors, and a broad-based discussion of wine policy matters.

New to this year’s Fall Conference was a special listening session featuring local Oregon wineries. A panel of Oregon wine industry leaders addressed the WineAmerica attendees and a contingent of their Oregon peers on the issues of importance to the local industry. The listening session provided a forum for the local industry to share thoughts and concerns on policy and regulatory matters with WineAmerica, the national voice for the industry.

The 2016 Board election resulted in the re-election of several existing Board members and welcomed a new representative for the Midwest region. WineAmerica is pleased to welcome Peter Hofherr, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of St. James Winery in St. James, Missouri. In addition to running Missouri’s largest winery, Peter is the current Chair of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board, and serves on the Board of the National Grape and Wine Initiative as well as the Board of Governors of Missouri State University. Peter is also Assistant Director of the McQuinn Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Missouri, Columbia; and has been the state’s Director of Agriculture and the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Missouri.

“We are thrilled to welcome Peter to the WineAmerica Board,” said Preszler. “His wealth of wine industry experience and public service makes him the perfect fit for WineAmerica and our grassroots public policy network.”

The WineAmerica Board also named two new Board officers to the Executive Committee. Debra Dommen is the Vice President of Government and Industry Affairs for Treasury Wine Estates. Debra was appointed to the WineAmerica Board earlier this year representing the California region, and will be serving as the new Treasurer of WineAmerica. Debra also serves on the Board of Family Winemakers of California and represents Treasury’s California businesses at the local, state and federal level. Janie Heuck is the Managing Director of Brooks Wine and represents Oregon on the WineAmerica Board. Janie has been appointed to the position of Secretary of the WineAmerica Board and will also serve on the Executive Committee. Janie is a Board member of the International Riesling Foundation and is on the media committee of the International Pinot Noir Celebration.

“Bringing on new Board members and appointing these new Board officers is another important step forward for WineAmerica. Our board is dynamic, talented and highly accomplished — the future of WineAmerica is bright,” said Preszler. “We would also like to acknowledge the service of Eddie O’Keefe from Chateau Grand Traverse in Michigan and Carolyn Wasem from Jackson Family Wines for their work on the Executive Committee. They will continue to serve on the WineAmerica Board as at-large members.”

The WineAmerica Government Affairs Committee reported on the status of key wine industry issues in Washington, DC. At the top of the list were federal alcohol excise tax reform and the ever-changing landscape of music licensing. Excise tax reform could happen as soon as next month, and WineAmerica will be leading the way to ensure its passage. The Board of Directors has adopted a plan to create greater transparency in the music licensing arena. WineAmerica will also be working to secure proper funding for the TTB, and in the new legislative year will be pushing for comprehensive immigration reform as well as a positive international trade agenda for the American wine industry.  

The conference also included a meeting of the WineAmerica State and Regional Association Advisory Council, featuring the annual roundtable discussion of wine policy issues across the country.

WineAmerica’s next conference “National Grape and Wine Policy Conference” will take place in Washington, DC on May 8-9, 2017, co-hosted with the Winegrape Growers of America.

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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.

Majority of US Senators Support Federal Excise Tax Reform

Alcohol Industry Celebrates Collaboration at Reception

By Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs

9.30.16

Senators  Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) became the 51st and 52nd US Senators to officially co-sponsor the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (S.1562). This bi-partisan bill seeks to lower the tax burden for all wineries, breweries and distilleries in the United States. It is the first bill proposed that would reform the federal excise tax system for all three major alcohol commodities.

WineAmerica, collaborating with our partner associations in Washington, DC, is working tirelessly to pass the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. Originally co-sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), the bill does the following for wineries:

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 US 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 bill 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 bill 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.

The House companion bill (H.R. 2903), introduced by Representatives Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Ron Kind (D-WI), has received official support from 282 members of the House of Representatives. A complete list of Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act co-sponsors in the Senate can be found here and the House here.

Joint Reception Held Celebrating Collaboration

This week, WineAmerica, the American Craft Spirits Association, the Beer Institute, the Brewers Association, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and the Wine Institute held a joint reception for Members of the House and Senate and their senior staff. This was the first time that all six of the major alcohol advocacy groups have come together for such an event. The event featured many member products from each commodity and was attended by close to 300 people. Several members of Congress were in attendance, and we were honored that Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN) the lead House sponsor of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act was able to address the group. We hope to hold future collaborative events with our commodity partners in the future. Special thanks to the following WineAmerica members for donating product:

  • Bedell Cellars, New York
  • Biltmore Estate Wine Company, North Carolina
  • Boordy Vineyards, Maryland
  • Brooks Wines, Oregon
  • Chateau Grand Traverse, Michigan
  • Huber Winery, Indiana
  • L’Ecole No. 41, Washington
  • Mazza Vineyards, Pennsylvania

For more information about the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, please contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs, mkaiser@wineamerica.org

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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.

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TTB Extends Comment Period for Notice No. 160

by Michael Kaiser

9.12.16

The TTB has extended its comment period for Notice No. 160: Proposed Revisions to Wine Labeling and Recordkeeping Requirements. The notice proposes to amend the labeling regulations to provide that any standard grape wine containing 7% or more alcohol by volume that is covered by a certificate of exemption from label approval may not be labeled with:

  • A varietal designation
  • A type designation of varietal significance
  • A vintage date
  • An appellation of origin, unless the wine is labeled is in compliance with the standards set forth in the regulations.

WineAmerica did a full analysis of the proposal, you can read that here. The original comment period was closed on August 22. The TTB re-opened the comment requests from two different trade associations. The extended comment period is now open until December 7, 2016.

To submit a comment, or view the comments that have already been submitted, please visit the comment page here.

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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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Wineries Welcome Department of Justice Ruling on Music Licensing

8.4.2016

Washington — Today the Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that it has concluded its two year consent decree review, and that it will refrain from altering the existing decrees regulating Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), as well as other elements of the music industry. The consent decree has regulated BMI and ASCAP since 1941 in response to anti-competitive behavior. Importantly, the DoJ struck down the Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) requests for “fractionalized licensing.”

This is an important decision for wineries who purchase a “blanket license” from PROs in order to play music at their venue. A blanket license allows a venue to play a PROs entire repertory. Had the DoJ agreed to fractionalized licensing, a winery would have had to pay every PRO that represents a songwriter for a song with multiple writers: for example, if a song has four writers, each with a different PRO, then all four PRO could claim royalties for that single song.

Wineries already face difficult choices when offering live music at their venue, often forcing the winery to cancel their programs. WineAmerica believes that fractionalized licensing would have eliminated buyer’s choice in the marketplace, encourage anti-competitive behavior, and ultimately raise the cost of performing music.

WineAmerica will continue to work to bring transparency to the licensing process. We believe that small business should have the tools to make sound business decisions based on their unique needs.

WineAmerica applauds the Department of Justice in its decision, meanwhile we will continue our lobbying efforts to alleviate undue burdens put upon wineries by PROs.

For more information, contact, Tara Good, Director of Operations at tgood@wineamerica.org, 202-223-5175.

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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.


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