Trump Administration Threatens 100% Tariffs on Wine

Were you looking forward to a lovely glass of French Burgundy to pair with roasted rosemary chicken? Or, perhaps you thought you’d take a simple break after a day of hard work by pairing that beautiful Pinot Noir with chèvre and crackers instead?

While you planned this lovely pairing, it’s possible that you turned off the evening news and missed this story: the European Union was found guilty of unfair subsidies to Airbus and the Trump administration is threatening the imposition of punishing tariffs in retaliation.

Never mind where that Pinot Noir came from. These 100% tariffs will impact far more than just French Burgundy. The price of Scotch, cognac, and a host of other European wines and spirits, never mind cheese and olive oil, will also go up.

Think that just means more tasty Arizona or California wine for you? Ah, think again. To keep up with demand, that means more grapes which means planting an awful lot of grapevines. And, never mind the part about finding enough land with enough water for all of those grapevines: it takes five years for a grapevine to begin providing sufficient fruit to be called productive. FIVE years. And then, it’s another two to five years before that wine is ready for sale.

This means a seven-year minimum before there is much more wine to spare. SEVEN years.

Call me silly, but I don’t think we’ll wait that long. Many of us will simply switch to beer. But how fast can beer makers ramp up their production?

Good luck, because that’s only a little faster than winemakers.

In other words, the price of wine could increase. Dramatically. All of it. Every drop. The price of many other pleasures will rise, too – like Scotch, cheese, olive oil, and much, much more.

So, drink up. Or even better, write to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) by January 13, 2020, 11:59 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. Below are news articles, posts and letters from several resources to help you learn more and to give you ideas for your own letter.

This post from Tablas Creek, a popular California winery, topped with the telling headline “No, 100% tariffs on European wines won’t be good for California wineries,” includes their letter to the USTR and links that explain how to submit your own letter.

Here are more stories and posts to help you better understand the consequences of these tariffs:

Bon appetit!

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