Policy Perspectives

Farm Bill Moves!

It may be a year late, but the 2025 Farm Bill is moving right along, thanks largely to the leadership of Rep. G.T. Thompson (R-PA), Chair of the House Agriculture Committee. And the nice thing is that there are several proposed funding increases beneficial to the grape and wine industry:

  • Market Access Program (MAP, for export funding) doubled from $200 million to $400 million
  • Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) increased by $95 million to $175 million
  • Specialty Crop Block Grant Program increased by $15 million to $100 million

The nearly 1,000-page bill has lots of other provisions, including some which will cause problems for passage and/or clash with the Senate’s version of the bill, which is expected to be released soon. This means an actual new Farm Bill is unlikely to be enacted by the September 30 deadline, so more extensions will be required. But at least some movement is now underway.

If you don’t enter, you can’t win

How many times have you heard me say that? Rest assured, this won’t be the last.

Last weekend I taught classes at the massive Los Angeles Country Fair as a spinoff to the 85-year-old Los Angeles International Wine Competition in March where I judged for the 28th time.

The end of the competition is just the beginning of the benefits for wineries which enter. During the month-long Fair, the winning wines are showcased—and sold—in a large Wine Garden pavilion which includes a display of Best of Class wines, a huge wall of Gold medal wines from different states, a Gold Medal Wine Tasting Bar, and a series of classes on many different topics taught by the wine judges.

The woman behind the curtain is Spreti Valente, a Certified Sommelier, Professional Wine Judge, and Consultant,, who traveled across the country last year encouraging wineries to enter both the LA and Pacific Rim competitions (where Fox Run Vineyards 2022 Semi-Dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes won Best White Wine).

I had the pleasure to teach two classes with Ann Miller of Les Bourgeois Winery in Missouri involving Wine & Chocolate (and Cheese), and a selection of award-winning Missouri wines, with some involving Cornell-created grape varieties. In both classes, the students were attentive, fun, and eager to buy the wines (mostly through direct shipment).

Besides purchasing the Gold medal wines for the Fair, the LA Competition promotes the winners in various other ways. It is a competition well worth entering, especially from wineries in states or featuring grape varieties that are unlikely to receive any attention from major wine media. I’ll make sure you know when and how to enter for next year’s competition.




  • Ann Miller from Missouri, Spreti Valente of California, Jim Trezise from the Finger Lakes at the “classroom”
  • Students tasting in front of a wall of Gold Medal wines from various states
  • Georgia, New Jersey, Iowa, Maryland, New York, and Missouri winners
  • New Jersey Proud
  • Texas Strong
  • Gold Medal Wine Tasting Bar, a popular attraction at the LA Fair