Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
12.23.2009  
 

Washington Wine Industry Sets Priorities

Grapegrowers and family wineries ask legislature to consider their agenda

 
by Peter Mitham
 
 
Capitol Building
 
Washington Capitol Building.

Cashmere, Wash.—Groups representing the Washington state wine industry are asking lawmakers to take steps in 2010 that support rather than hinder the economic viability of the state’s wineries and grapegrowers.

Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers was one of almost 40 agriculture and food organizations that gathered in Ellensburg on Dec. 16 to establish a statement of common interests in advance of the state’s 2010 legislature session, which begins in January.

The seven-point platform recognizes that legislators will have plenty on their plates this winter, including some tough budget decisions, and agriculture groups want to ensure they’re part of the solution to the budget difficulties.

“Agriculture needs to position itself as an economic driver and part of the reason that this state will enjoy economic recovery,” WAWGG executive director Vicky Scharlau told Wines & Vines. “Washington state is in—I suppose you could call it a fiscal crisis—so the issues that we wanted to raise we’re going to hold off on until 2011.”

That’s not to say issues of importance to grapegrowers won’t be on the agenda this session. The statement of priorities issuing from the Ellensburg meeting highlights the need to:

  • Promote agriculture’s role in the economic recovery by not increasing taxes, fees, or regulations, which would hinder the ability of Washington’s farmers and ranchers to remain sustainable;
  • Ensure an adequate supply of water for agriculture by eliminating impediments to efficient water usage; continuing to develop new supplies and removing legal uncertainties related to current and future water use;
  • End excessive state regulations that result in higher labor costs, reform the workers’ comp system to make it more effective, and enhance programs for seasonal and full-time workers in order to promote a legal and stable workforce;
  • Foster sound environmental outcomes by recognizing the benefits derived from retaining agricultural operations on the landscape and encouraging producers voluntarily to employ additional stewardship measures;
  • Ensure that the transportation system provides an efficient farm-to-market product distribution network;
  • Require state agencies to complete an Agricultural Impact Statement in advance of any action, so that impacts to farmland are properly identified, and avoided or minimized;
  • Promote and support agricultural research, extension, and commodity specific programs funded through the state universities and Department of Agriculture.

Water rights, research and extension budgets as well as the perennial hot topics of taxes and regulations are all of interest to grapegrowers and wineries. Scharlau said the relative health of agriculture, which accounts for 13% of Washington’s economic activity, makes it an important sector for legislators to respect as an important contributor of tax revenues. Reducing its competitiveness could potentially make agriculture—and the wine industry in particular—less valuable to state coffers.

“We can help with the recovery,” Scharlau said. “(Be) sensitive to what we bring to the table.”

Creating a better environment through better legislation will be a focus of the Family Wineries of Washington State, which has three goals for the upcoming legislative session.

“There’s three things we want to do, the biggest thing being the Craft Winery Development Act,” said Paul Beveridge, association president, in a recent interview. The act, as envisioned, would establish a framework under which small wineries could operate, distinct from the rules governing larger wineries and distributors. A potential threshold could be an annual production of 10,000 cases.

“We would exempt tiny wineries from all the economic regulations and allow them to operate in the free market. All the public safety requirements would still apply,” Beveridge said. The operating rules would be voluntary, so that wineries could choose which rules fit them best. A winery would not be treated as a craft winery simply because it produces less than the threshold that distinguishes small producers from large. A 30-day credit rule would also apply, limiting the potential for unfettered credit.

Beveridge said the FWWS is also seeking two smaller bills, including a “paperwork reduction act” that Beveridge expects will pass, as well as a “payment parity act” that will allow small wineries to accept checks (a corollary to the success distributors enjoyed in the 2009 session with permission for electronic fund transfers).

FWWS is also pursuing its hopes for refillable “growlers.” Wineries may legally refill these containers, but retailers require special legislation to replenish them. The association is working with the liquor board to secure permissions for the practice before moving forward with legislation, which Beveridge hopes could come forward in 2011.

Editor's Note: Although Wines & Vines will be on holiday starting Dec. 24, we have prepared some treats for our readers to enjoy during the break, so please do check in for a few tasty updates. We'll check back into the office on Jan. 4.
 

SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
May 2015 $607 million
7%
$8,068 million
5%
May 2014 $569 million $7,651 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
May 2015 $141 million
4%
$1,896 million
14%
May 2014 $135 million $1,657 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
May 2015 355
15%
256
20%
May 2014 308 213
     
 
MORE » Released on 06.15.2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2015
 
Download full report »
 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • July 9-10
     
    Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries
     
  • July 18
     
    Oakland Wine Festival
     
  • July 19-22
     
    Steamboat Pinot Noir Conference
     
  • July 20-21
     
    BC Enology & Viticulture Conference
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: New York Wineries Going Green »
 
Bravo to Lakewood for being an early solar adopter in the Finger Lakes wine industry!...
Reader: Suzanne Hunt
 
Article: New York Wineries Going Green »
 
Lakewood Vineyards completed work on their 47 kW (80 panel) solar array in 2012. It...
Reader: Benjamin Stamp
 
Article: New York Wineries Going Green »
 
I am wondering how substantial the electric bill is for wineries in the Finger Lakes...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Tasting Room Rewards »
 
I have worked in a tasting room (3) for over 8 years. It is a...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Norton to retire from UCCE »
 
Well done, Max!
Reader: Guest
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Sales Representatives ...
 New York, NY
Sales and Marketing
 Sales Representative -...
 California - All Wine Buying Regions, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Compliance Technician
 Geyserville, CA
Finance
 Server
 Healdsburg, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Seasonal Viticulture T...
 Amity, OR
Vineyards
 Compliance And Account...
 Fairfield, CA
General Administration and
 Filling Line Maintenan...
 Fairfield, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 Wine Bar/Retail Sales
 Toluca Lake, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Sales Consultant
 Milwaukee, WI
Sales and Marketing
 2015 Harvest Interns
 Walla Walla, WA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2015 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.