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Napa’s vintners took their call against wine tariffs to Washington this week.

The Napa Valley Vintners joined 25 other industry groups, vintners and growers alike, as part of the Wine Origins Alliance, which this week called for policymakers to reduce “barriers to trade in wine,” according to a press release.

The Wine Origin Alliance, whose membership spans across North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia, met with members of Congress, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the European Union Delegation to the United States to discussion the elimination of tariffs and other obstacles for the trade of wine, including protection of regional “brands”, such as the Napa Valley Appellation.

The Wine Origin Alliance’s capital visit coincided with a bipartisan congressional resolution aimed at further recognizing the contributions of American Viticultural Areas, of which Napa’s wine industry has several, underlining their effort to protect the respective “brands” of regional members.

Chinese tariffs on American wine have risen steadily over the last year and a half, a result of the ongoing trade war between the two countries. Napa’s vintners, among others, have seen their market share in the Chinese industry shrink as a result. In July, President Trump took to Twitter, threatening to place a tariff on French wines in retaliation for France’s “digital tax” on American technology companies.

Earlier this month, the United States did place a 25% tariff on table wines from France, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom, as well as single-malt Irish and Scotch whiskeys and other European goods. This tariff came in response to a ruling from the World Trade Organization (WTO) involving illegal subsidization of an aerospace company by the European Union, according to the WTO dispute settlement.

As a luxury good, wine often finds itself in the middle of such trade disputes, even when it may have nothing to do with the larger trade dispute itself.

The Wine Institute, which represents 1,000 wineries and industry businesses in the state of California, issued a statement noting its opposition to what it called “retaliatory tariffs” on wine from the European Union. The Wine Institute has long urged governments to leave wine out of such trade disputes, the release notes.

“We are concerned that this action will lead to increased tariffs on U.S. wines and set back our efforts to continue growing U.S. wine exports,” Wine Institute President and CEO Bobby Koch said in the press release.

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You can reach Sarah Klearman at (707) 256-2213 or sklearman@napanews.com.

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