WineAmerica Appoints Jim Trezise as President in 2017

Washington, DC, December 5, 2016—The Board of Directors of WineAmerica has announced that wine industry veteran Jim Trezise will become the organization’s President starting in January 2017.

WineAmerica is the national organization of American wineries, representing wine producer members from 43 states with grassroots public policy advocacy in Washington, DC.  WineAmerica held its 2016 Fall Meeting in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and was honored to be joined by Congressional Representative Suzanne Bonamici and Senator Ron Wyden, who is spearheading legislation to reduce wine excise taxes.

“We’re delighted that Jim has agreed to assume a more formal role with WineAmerica,” said the organization’s Chairman of the Board Trent Preszler, PhD, who is CEO of Bedell Cellars on Long Island.  “Jim is well-known and highly respected throughout the American wine industry, as well as among influential public officials, and his commitment to our industry is unparalleled.”

Trezise is transitioning from his 31-year position as President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation (NYWGF) to an increased role with WineAmerica, while remaining President of the International Riesling Foundation, judging in major wine competitions, and continuing his involvement with other wine industry organizations and activities.

He will orient his NYWGF successor, Mr. Sam Filler, in the first quarter of 2017 while undertaking increased involvement with WineAmerica during that time.  Jim has served on the WineAmerica  Board of Directors and Executive Committee  for over 20 years, and has devoted substantial additional  pro bono time to the organization in recent years.  He also serves on the Boards of several other major industry organizations such as FIVS, the National Grape & Wine Initiative, and Wine Market Council.

Over the years he has received several national awards for his contributions to the American wine industry, including the ‘Grand Award” of the Society of Wine Educators; the “Wine Integrity Award” from the Lodi Winegrape Commission; the “Distinguished Service Award” from the Society of Enology and Viticulture; and the “Perpetual Monteith Trophy” (Thomas Jefferson Cup) from the Vinifera Winegrowers Association.  He was also named one of “The 20 Most Admired People in the American Wine Industry” by Vineyard & Winery Management magazine; and one of the “Top 50 Movers and Shakers” by Wines & Vines magazine.

“This is a major step forward for WineAmerica,” said Caroline Shaw, WineAmerica’s immediate past Chair, and Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Jackson Family Wines, who first suggested this idea.  “Jim’s long experience with WineAmerica, success in public policy advocacy, familiarity with key public officials, and involvement with many other industry organizations will strengthen our impact.”

Jim will work closely with WineAmerica’s current staff, Director of Public Affairs Michael Kaiser, and Director of Operations Tara Good, along with government affairs counsel Meyers & Associates.  His involvement will be selectively targeted at opportunities which offer the most promise to advance the interests of the American wine industry.  He will travel to Washington, DC and other locations as needed, but will be operating from the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York on a day-to-day basis.

“WineAmerica is truly a vital organization for advancing the interests of the American wine industry,” said Trezise. “While I have been involved for a very long time, I’m pleased that I will have more time to devote to its important activities in the future.”

WineAmerica’s Fall meeting was organized and hosted by Janie Brooks Heuck, owner of Brooks Wines, and included a special listening session with leaders of the Oregon wine industry, as well as updates on all public policy matters and the Presidential election outlook.  WineAmerica’s next meeting will be in Washington, DC in May  with a focus on educating the new Administration and legislators about the American wine industry’s priorities.


Media Contacts:  Trent Preszler,; Jim Trezise

Family Winemakers of California and WineAmerica Announce Revised Joint Membership

Two organizations involved with public policy affecting the grape and wine industry—Family Winemakers of California, and WineAmerica—announced a revised joint membership program at the 2016 WIN Expo on December 1 in Santa Rosa, CA.

Family Winemakers focuses primarily on State-level issues, while WineAmerica’s focus is on federal policy in Washington, DC. A joint membership allows wineries to support, get information from, and be represented by these organization on both levels. The two organizations have had a joint membership program for several years, but the new revisions are intended to make it more affordable and attractive.

The new initiative was announced by Pete Downs, Acting President of Family Winemakers, and Jim Trezise, a long-time member of the WineAmerica Executive Committee, as part of a special presentation they gave on major policy developments in both Sacramento and Washington. Downs had also served on the Executive Committee and Board of WineAmerica for over a decade, so knows both organizations well.

“This is a logical fit,” he said. “We need eyes and ears, and feet on the ground, in both Capitols, and the joint membership is a great way to accomplish this.  Another benefit of WineAmerica is that it represents wineries in more than 40 states so has broad national reach legislatively.”

To become a member of Family Winemakers, wineries pay 6 cents per case, with a minimum of $300. To add the WineAmerica benefit, it’s an additional 2 cents per case, with a minimum of $100. Both memberships are through Family Winemakers, which then sends WineAmerica its share.

“WineAmerica’s broad-based membership around the country is a unique advantage that no other wine trade association has,” said Trezise. “Wine Institute, which is a great partner with national reach, nevertheless represents only California wineries, so we can add dozens of other states to create a much stronger coalition.  More than 80 of 100 U.S. Senators have WineAmerica member wineries in their states, and we like to remind the legislature of that.”

WineAmerica also has a State and Regional Associations Advisory Council (SRAAC) involving heads of trade associations throughout the country who regularly compare notes on what is happening in their states, and how they can help one another.  In addition, WineAmerica has retained professional government affairs counsel Meyers & Associates to protect and advance the industry’s interests.


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 Issues Guidelines for Elimination of Bond Requirement

By Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs


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,


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


Contact: Michael Kaiser

Director of Public Affairs


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


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,


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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