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Remember back in January and February, when all the wine professionals-myself included-were telling you why a 25% tariff on many European wines and spirits was a bad idea? And that increasing it above the 25% was an even worse one? Bad for those producers of course, but also for importers, distributors, and domestic producers carried by those distributors, not to mention endangering thousands of US jobs.
What happened to that?
Nothing. Nothing happened. Or rather, nothing changed. The 25% tariffs are still there, still damaging the wine and spirits business. We’ve all just lost track of it, because of everything else that’s happened.
As with so many businesses, winery tasting rooms suffered closures at the start of the pandemic. Restaurant closures have also hurt their business. And now? Now, they are literally on fire. California wildfires are once again raging, consuming homes, wineries, and vineyards. Industry experts estimate that only approximately 33-38% of grapes have been harvested in Napa and Sonoma this year. Of those, some 70% are so affected by smoke taint, relegating them to either jug wine or the trash. That math isn’t pretty.
What can you do? Donate, if you can, to one of the foundations supporting the citizens of wine country. There are many, but I can personally recommend the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, the Community Foundation of Sonoma County Resilience Fund, and the Community Foudation of Mendocino County Disaster Fund.
If you agree that the tariffs are still a terrible idea, you can express that opinion to Robert Lighthizer, the US Trade Representative, or to your congressional delegation.
Or buy a bottle of good wine and raise a glass to better times.