In mid-April, WineAmerica’s Board, winery members, and state and regional association leaders convened for our 2019 National Wine Policy Conference. The conference is an intensive three-day event featuring the WineAmerica Board meeting, federal affairs, and state-issues meetings, plus meetings with Congress members and their staff.
The first session of the Conference featured a WineAmerica Board Meeting. Most of the administrative work the Board does is accomplished at the Fall Meeting, leaving more time for policy discussions when we gather in DC. We began the morning with a deep dive into the issue of website access for those with vision impairments, which has caused legal issues for some wineries. A federal affairs update followed, highlighting the progress being made on the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act.
The WineAmerica staff also updated the attendees on the other issues of importance to the industry, chiefly TTB notice 176, and international trade issues, such as ratification of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, our work regarding Chinese tariffs, and the threat of retaliatory tariffs from Canada and the European Union.
Following lunch, the conference attendees met with leading Congressional staff on the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. That evening, WineAmerica Board convened for dinner at Charlie Palmer Steak, celebrated for their all-American wine list.
The second day began with a state issues meeting led by the State and Regional Association Advisory Council (SRAAC). As is customary, each SRAAC member provided an update on their respective state or region. One of the hallmarks of the SRAAC is the sharing of information among peers. The group then heard from two guest speakers about membership retention and Board management. Attendees met with Congressional staff from their home states and districts that afternoon. The day culminated with the annual Wines of America reception on Capitol Hill, and the conference wrapped on Thursday with additional state delegation meetings.
We want to thank all who took the time and expense to attend the WineAmerica policy conference. Having constituents meet with their Senators and Members of Congress, and their staff, in their place of work is the most powerful way to demonstrate that wine is a national treasure, and to reinforce the fact that WineAmerica is genuinely the National Association of American Wineries.
We look forward to seeing members at our Fall Retreat in the Fabulous Finger Lakes region!