Contact: Michael Kaiser
Washington, DC – WineAmerica, the national association of American wineries, held its annual National Wine and Grape Policy Conference this week in Washington, DC in conjunction with Winegrape Growers of America. The three-day conference attracted wine industry leaders from across the country to meet, learn about, and weigh in on the most pressing public policy issues affecting growers and wineries.
The new Administration and changed political climate in Washington provided the backdrop for the spring meeting, which included new energy relative to both the issues and the organization itself. Expert speakers described the evolving political climate as well as key issues affecting the American grape and wine industry. Among many specific topics covered were federal excise tax reform, music licensing guidelines, immigration policy, trade negotiations, the Farm Bill, and funding for research and export promotion.
“The American wine industry faces numerous challenges, and this annual conference is always a great way to fully understand them and educate legislators and the Administration about our concerns and priorities,” said Jim Trezise, President of WineAmerica. “Our organization also has new energy, people and projects that all point to a very promising future.”
The event began with the Wines of America Congressional reception, where members of Congress, their staff and selected guests sampled wines from 29 states.
The WineAmerica Board of Directors meeting was also held, where the Board committed to a robust and vibrant national membership campaign and appointed a new at-large member.
Kirk Wiles, the CEO and Founder of Paradise Springs Winery was appointed to the vacant at-large WineAmerica Board Seat. Paradise Springs Winery operates out of both Fairfax County, Virginia and Santa Barbara, California–the only winery in the United States that is truly bi-coastal. Wiles’ Virginia winery has the official distinction of being the closest vineyard to Washington, D.C., located about 23 miles from Capitol Hill. The farm Wiles inherited was originally part of a land grant from Lord Fairfax to his family in 1716. The vineyard’s log cabin, now used for wine tastings, was renovated by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1955.
“We are very excited to appoint Kirk Wiles to the WineAmerica Board”, said Trent Preszler, PhD, CEO of Bedell Cellars on Long Island and WineAmerica Board chair. “Kirk has proven himself to be a leader in the Virginia wine industry with his service on the Virginia Wine Board, and his bi-coastal brand will provide a unique perspective to the WineAmerica Board”
WineAmerica has also initiated two distinct projects intended to grow our footprint in Washington, DC and increase our membership nationwide. This spring WineAmerica initiated the first comprehensive economic impact study of the American wine industry in over ten years. WineAmerica has contracted John Dunham and Associates to conduct the study, which will examine the total economic impact of the American wine industry in the United States.
“We know that the American wine industry is a major economic engine, but until now we haven’t had the specific metrics to illustrate that with reliable numbers,” said WineAmerica President Jim Trezise. “The results of this study will strengthen our case to lawmakers that creating a favorable business climate through sound public policy will be a great investment for the country.”
The WineAmerica Board will also be working to increase our national winery membership. Janie Brooks Heuck, Managing Director of Brooks Winery in the Willamette Valley and the Chair of the WineAmerica Membership and Marketing Committee, will be spearheading the national membership drive over the course of the next six months.
“WineAmerica is the only national winery association representing the interests of all American wineries in Washington, D.C. The more members we have, the greater influence we have with our congressional leaders,” said WineAmerica Janie Brooks Heuck, “Moreover, membership in WineAmerica has brought direct return on investment to wineries by advocating for legislative and regulatory reforms as well as added value services. Current efforts related to federal excise tax reform and music licensing will only increase the fiscal and operational savings to our members.”
The next WineAmerica Board of Directors meeting will take place in Napa Valley, California on November 9-10, 2017. The Spring Meeting of 2018 will be held in conjunction with the USBevX conference and trade show in Washington, DC on February 21 and 22.
WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 41 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.