Ask Your Advocate – Can I give wine to my Member of Congress?


I belong to WineAmerica, why should I belong to my regional or state organization?

WineAmerica represents your interests in Washington, DC, but we cannot be involved at the state level in every state. Your local winery association looks out for your interests in the state capitol and is your first line of defense against regulatory and legislative threats at the state level.

Can I give wine to my Member of Congress?

You are allowed to donate product to the Congressional Office as long as your product is made in the congressional district and is not a direct gift to the Member of Congress, but a donation to the district office.

Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser at or 202-223-5172.

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TTB now allows certain wineries to file excise tax returns annually


The TTB has issued new guidance on excise tax and operations report filing for wineries.

The TTB will now allow certain wineries to file their excise tax returns annually, rather than semi-monthly or quarterly. The requirements are: The proprietor has not given a bond for deferred payment of wine excise tax, and the proprietor:

  • Paid wine excise taxes in an amount less than $1,000 during the previous calendar year.
  • Is the proprietor of a newly established bonded wine premises and expects to pay less than $1,000 in wine excise taxes before the end of the calendar year.

“Not given bond for deferred payment” means you do not have an amount listed in the “deferral” space on the bond. The wine bond conditions allow up to $1,000 of the operations coverage on a wine bond of $2,000 or more to be used for deferral, so for an annual filer no additional deferral coverage would be needed. A bond of at least $1,000 and up to $1,999.99 provides $500 in automatic deferral coverage. If you show a deferral amount on the bond or would owe over $1,000 for the year, you do not qualify for annual filing.

Wineries that meet this requirement may file within 30 days of the end of the calendar year.

Proprietors of bonded wine premises operations must file the Report of Wine Premises Operations either monthly, quarterly, or annually. To qualify to file annually, a proprietor must:

  • File an Excise Tax Return annually.
  • Not expect the total of all bulk and bottled wine to exceed 20,000 gallons for any one month during the calendar year.

If you are not eligible to file an annual Excise Tax Return it means you are not eligible to file an annual Report of Wine Premises Operations. You also need to make sure you do not have more than 20,000 gallons of wine in any month. If you are eligible to file an annual Report of Wine Premises Operations, it is due January 15th of the year following the report year.

Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser at or 202-223-5172.

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Direct shipping comes to South Dakota


This week, South Dakota became the 43rd state to allow direct-to-consumer wine shipment to consumers. The legislation, HB 1001, was signed by the Governor Daugaard on February 19 and establishes a wine direct shipper license through the South Dakota Department of Revenue.

The bill would allow for any winery that holds a federal basic permit to obtain a direct shipper license. There is an annual fee of $100. The winery holding the license may ship up to 12 cases of wine produced under their permit to an adult consumer in South Dakota during a calendar year. Age verification is required. Shippers must pay sales and excise taxes and file quarterly shipment reports. Additionally, labels that are not already and registered and consigned to a wholesaler must be registered with the Department of Revenue prior to any shipment.

The legislation goes into effect on January 1, 2016. WineAmerica will provide additionally information as it becomes available.

Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser at or 202-223-5172.

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TTB proposes adjacent state AVA


The TTB has issued a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would change how American VIticultural Areas (AVA) can be used on a wine label.

The TTB is proposing that wineries in adjacent states be allowed to use the single-state AVA from the bordering state. To use the “Finger Lakes” as an example, a Pennsylvania winery would be able to purchase grapes from the Finger Lakes AVA and use the Finger Lakes AVA on the label, if the wine is fully finished in Pennsylvania. The regulations currently state that a Pennsylvania winery can purchase Finger Lakes grapes and use a “New York” state appellation of origin.

The current rules for AVA use on domestic wine label are:

  1. The labeled area is an American viticultural area approved under U.S. regulations
  2. Not less than 85% of the volume of the wine is derived from grapes grown in the labeled viticultural area
  3. The wine is fully finished (except for cellar treatment and/or blending which does not alter the class and type of the wine) in the state or one of the states where the viticultural area is located

To use the example “Finger Lakes” AVA again, it is currently allowed on a wine label if 85% of the grapes are grown in the Finger Lakes and if it is a New York winery, however the winery does not need to be located within the AVA, it simply needs to be within the state the AVA is located in.

Currently, in the case of a multi-state appellation, like the Columbia Valley, the winery producing the wine must be located within one of the states located in the AVA. So an Oregon winery located in the Columbia Valley can use grapes from a Washington vineyard in the Columbia Valley and use the Columbia Valley AVA on the label. The new proposed rulemaking does not change this.

The TTB would like to hear from the public on this proposal and is accepting public comments until April 10. To submit comments and to read the full Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, please go here: Use of American Viticultural Area Names as Appellations of Origin on Wine Labels

Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser at or 202-223-5172.

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5 Presidents we want to drink wine with


Wine has been with us since the earliest days of our nation.  The pilgrims were even purported to have landed at Plymouth Rock because they had run out of alcohol.  Whether you believe these tales or not, wine and alcohol have played a critical role in the development of the Americas and this President’s Day WineAmerica would like to celebrate the holiday by looking at our country’s past leaders and their White House wine indulgences.  Here are the top 5 Presidents we want to have a glass of wine with.

George WashingtonGW

In an era where there was little to do in terms of entertainment other than wear powdered wigs and chop wood, it may come as no surprise that people looked towards the consumption of alcohol for reprieve.  George Washington was no exception, and reportedly spent $6,000 on alcohol in a period of seven months between 1775 and 1776; most of it on his beloved Madeira wine.

Interestingly enough, Madeira wine played an incredibly large role in the early history of the United States of America. The 13 colonies were incapable of growing wine quality grapes, so they looked towards imports, particularly Madeira, to meet their alcohol needs.  Fortified with spirits and treated at unusually high temperatures, Madeira wine managed to survive the long voyage to the Americas without spoiling.  In fact, Madeira was so beloved that the Founding Fathers used 50 bottles of it to toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  This accompanied another 60 bottles of Claret and 22 bottles of port, quite the party for 56 delegates.

While we respect the great man’s choice of beverage, one cannot help but imagine him perched on the prow of a dingy crossing the Delaware with a goblet of Madeira and saber in hand.

It is by no coincidence there is a biannual wine festival on the grounds of Mount Vernon each spring and fall. Our first president would be proud of the wines made by his fellow native Virginians.


Thomas JeffersonTJ

Thomas Jefferson is a well recognized name in wine circles.  While we hope it would be for his impeccable taste and love for the art, more likely than not it is due to the fact that he has been infamously associated with wine scams carrying his namesake for years.  Regardless of how you look at his name in the industry, Jefferson was a wine aficionado.  As an ambassador to France, he gained a fine appreciation for French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese wines.  While he was said to favor Madeira and Bordeaux, his vast collection contained everything imaginable.  He was so enamored with his libations that when laying out his famed home, Monticello, he not only laid out a cider room, but built an extraordinary wine cellar to house his valuable collection of purchases.

While the jury is still out on whether a “cider room” is a real thing, we can confirm that he was spot on when he said “No nation is drunken where wine is cheap, and none sober where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage. Wine brightens the life and thinking of anyone”.

Jefferson’s ventures in the wine industry did not stop there.  He even tried his hand at being a vintner and while a spectacular failure, he pioneered wine cultivation in Virginia and would take delight in seeing how the industry has flourished since.


Richard NixonRN

As brazen as they come, Richard Nixon holds the distinction of being the last President to serve Bordeaux in the White House; however, by many accounts this was mostly to himself.  Nixon loved his wine, and did not shy away from imbibing on the good stuff.  When entertaining his guests, Tricky Dick  was widely reported to have his aides pour him the excellent and expensive Chateau Margaux from a bottle hidden from sight, while serving his guests lesser wines.




Ronald ReaganRR

A California native and avid supporter of the domestic wine industry, Ronald Reagan is known for revolutionizing the way the White House looked at American wine.  Not only did he exclusively serve American sparkling wine in lieu of Champagne, but he is the first President to ever serve a Zinfandel at an official event.  His love of California wine was so great in fact, that upon moving to D.C. he sent himself a private supply of wine from Beaulieu Vineyards, Sterling, and Stag’s Leap.  Reagan went above and beyond to showcase everything American wine had to offer, and in doing so set a precedent that is observed even today.



Honorable mention… Benjamin FranklinBF

No, we did not fail middle school civics and we are aware that Benjamin Franklin was not a president.  However, he was a founding father and his face graces our currency, so that is good enough for us.

Besides being a diplomat, statesman, inventor, scientist, and theorist, Benjamin Franklin was an accomplished author and publisher.  His own words do his love of the drink more justice than we ever could:

“Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.”

“When Wine enters, out goes the Truth.”

“Never spare the Parson’s wine, nor the Baker’s pudding.”

“The discovery of wine is of greater moment than the discovery of a constellation.  The universe is too full of stars.”

“Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

(Yes, often misquoted as “Beer is sure proof…”, a little research shows his true intent was wine.)

“Take counsel in wine, but resolve afterwards in water.”

WineAmerica wishes you all a Happy President’s Day!  Keep the celebration going and share your tidbit of Presidential wine trivia via Twitter.


Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser at or 202-223-5172.

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