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Napa Valley Vintners Delegation Meets Federal Lawmakers and Regulators in Washington DC.

by Kerana Todorov
April 15, 2019
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The Napa Valley Vintners delegation included from left to right: Devin Rhinerson, Napa Valley Vintners' DC representative; Rex Stults, NVV senior director of industry relations; David Pearson, CEO at Opus One and NVV chairman; Linda Reiff, NVV president and CEO; Paul Leary, president at Blackbird Vineyards; Darioush Khaledi, proprietor at Darioush; Bruce Cakebread, co-owner of Cakebread Cellars; Dawnine Dyer of Dyer Vineyard; and Emma Swain, CEO at St. Supéry. Submitted photo courtesy of Napa Valley Vintners.

Tax reform, the protection of the Napa Valley name and a proposal to update wine labeling rules were among the issues a Napa Valley Vintners delegation discussed recently with federal lawmakers and regulators in Washington DC.

The group spent four days last week meeting with federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill and at various agencies, including Deputy U.S. Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney and Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau Administrator John Manfreda. The vintners also met legislators such as U.S Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif. and US. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

“There are many complex issues being debated in the nation’s Capital that directly impact our members’ businesses and our greater efforts to promote, protect and enhance the Napa Valley and it’s important that we be here to weigh in on them,” said Dawnine Dyer of Dyer Vineyard, past chairwoman of the Napa Valley Vintners board.

The Napa Valley Vintners delegation, which included 10 winery representatives, joined forces with members of the wine industry from Oregon and Washington state who happened to visit the nation’s capital at the same time. One the visitors’ focus during their visit was pending excise tax legislation.

The wine industry supports legislation to pass the 2019 Craft Beverage Modernization Tax Reform Act. The proposed legislation would make the excise tax cuts passed in 2017 permanent. These provisions are currently set to expire Dec. 31.

As of Friday, the 2019 Craft Beverage Modernization Tax Reform Act had 109 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives and 47 in the senate, according to WineAmerica, a trade organization.

Other matters raised with federal officials included the protection of the Napa Valley name, an ongoing effort of the Napa Valley Vintners.

In addition, the delegation discussed the effects of tariffs with Mahoney, the deputy US trade representative.

“Export markets are critical,” said Rex Stults, senior director of industry relations for the Napa Valley Vintners.

The vintners group also met with Manfreda and aides at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to discuss a number of matters, including labeling rules. The TTB in March extended until June 26 the comment period on proposed new rules to update alcohol beverage labeling and advertising regulations.

Last week’s trip included marketing efforts such as a tasting and lunch of the trade that showcased 30 Napa Valley wines; a “Taste the Wines of the West” reception in collaboration Oregon and Washington state for members of Congress and key staff members; and an interview on the “Foodie and the Beast” radio program.

The delegation started its day at 8 a.m. and ended it at 11 p.m., Stults said.

“Washington, D.C. has an impressive number of steakhouses where cab is king,” said Bruce Cakebread of Cakebread Cellars, past chairman of the Napa Valley Vintners board. “It’s important that we be here.”

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