Policy Perspectives

DC Fly-In: Lobbying on Steroids

On May 7-8, WineAmerica held its annual “fly-in” to Washington, with some 40 members converging from around the country to meet with their Senators and Representatives about WineAmerica’s legislative and regulatory priorities.

This is lobbying on steroids. All year, WineAmerica staff members Michael Kaiser and Tara Good do the normal government affairs work on behalf of the American wine industry, and they’re very effective. But the real power is face-to-face contact of constituents with legislators where they work. The impact of that one visit lasts for months.

Michael scheduled more than 90 Hill visits involving House and Senate leadership, as well as legislators from the 15 states represented by our attendees. Tara handled many other logistics, including providing conference room space, “leave-behind” documents, arranging memorable meals, and recommending convenient and affordable lodging.

Coincidentally, after months of inaction, the Farm Bill finally started moving, and WineAmerica representatives met with both House Agriculture Committee Chair GT Thompson (R-PA) and Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). This bill is more important than any other legislation for the American wine industry, so it is great to finally see some positive action.

Another highlight of the fly-in, right at the beginning, was a meeting with TTB Administrator Mary Ryan and her leadership team at their headquarters, which resulted in a very valuable exchange of information, particularly regarding the process involving potential nutritional and ingredient labeling.

We are deeply grateful to the 40-plus members of WineAmerica who spent their time and money to advocate for the policies that benefit the entire American wine industry.


– Tara Good, WineAmerica, Sarah Braganini, St. Julian Winery, MI, Congressman Tim Walberg (MI), John Braganini, St. Julian Winery, MI
– Dana Huber, Huber Winery & Vineyards and Donnie Winchell, Ohio Wine Producers
– Tara Good, WineAmerica, and Kelly Bostock, Dos Cabezas Wine works, AZ
– Debra Dommen, Treasury Wine Estates, CA, Moya Dolsby, Idaho Wine Commission, Dana Huber, Huber Winery & Vineyards, IN, Scott Osborn, Fox Run Vineyard, NY

Leadership Transition

During the two-day whirlwind, WineAmerica also had a peaceful transfer of power in its leadership.

To ensure continuity, predictability and professionalism, our organization has a two-year cycle which always ends in May every other year. At that time, the person who has been Chair—in this case Debra Dommen, Vice President of Government and Industry Affairs for Treasury Wine Estates Americas—resigns but stays on the Executive Committee as Immediate Past Chair. The Board and attendees thanked her greatly for her leadership over the past two years.

Scott Osborn, Co-owner and President of Fox Run Vineyards in New York’s Finger Lakes region, moved up from Vice Chair to Chair. Dana Huber, VP of Distribution and Public Relations at Huber Winery and Starlight Distillery of Indiana, moved from Treasurer to Vice Chair. And Chris Brundrett, Founder/Winemaker at William Chris Wine Company in Texas, was elected as the new Treasurer.

WineAmerica’s Board includes 17 regional and at-large seats which represent different areas of the country, with both leadership and fall meeting venues rotating among them. The leadership of the 40-member State and Regional Associations Advisory Council (SRAAC) also changes every two years, but at the November meeting. Current Chair Moya Shatz Dolsby of Idaho is scheduled to be replaced by Jana McKamey of Oregon, with Brittany Gibson of New York in line next.

Best of Show White Wine!

Fox Run Vineyards 2022 Semi-Dry Riesling from New York’s Finger Lakes region recently won Best of Show White Wine at the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition, which included entries from all over the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, and France. And the winning White happens to be from the winery of WineAmerica’s newly elected Chair, Scott Osborn.

But that’s not why I mention it. It’s to remind all wineries that if you don’t enter you can’t win!

The determined and energetic chairwoman of both the Pacific Rim and Los Angeles International competitions, Spreti Valente, traveled across the country last year visiting wineries and encouraging them to enter both events. When she was here in the Finger Lakes, I suggested that she visit Fox Run and several other local wineries.  Thank goodness she did, they entered, and they won! It’s a win-win!

Another highlight for my panel was tasting Reggae Red, an Indiana wine made with Concord grapes that was the absolute best Concord I ever remember tasting (and yes, Concord can be great!). Another panel member dubbed it a “three-meal wine” (for breakfast, lunch and dinner), and yet another was David Teig, Executive Chef of The Palace Hotel in San Francisco, who also raved about it.

Meanwhile, in January at the huge San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, Winemaker Ben Banks of Sovereign Estate Wines in Minnesota showed judges just how great cold-climate “Minnesota varieties” can be, with a number of Best of Class awards, and he shared them with California consumers at the Chronicle’s special tasting a month later.

Moral of the Medals: If you don’t enter, you can win!