Monday, December 17, 2012

An Emerging Trend For Wine Exporters

By Cary Greene

If you’re exporting wine, or thinking about it, you should be aware of an emerging trend relating to foreign registrations and inspections.  The implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has been hot topic recently, particularly with respect to the new registration requirements contained in that law.

But FSMA also gave the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) greater power to inspect foreign and domestic facilities.  While wineries are largely shielded from these new powers due to a first of its kind exemption that limits FDA’s authority over wine regulation, FSMA’s inspection provisions seems to be starting a problematic trend—in the form of retaliatory foreign registrations and inspections.

China, Canada, Russia, Vietnam and Indonesia, are in the process of implementing legislation that directly responds to FSMA.  In apparent protest of FDA’s new powers, these countries are giving their local agencies registration and inspection authority over U.S. producers.

While we’ve have heard no reports of actual inspections, we’ve expressed our concern with the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB).  Foreign inspections would pose a host of practical and business problems for American wineries.  It should be up to TTB to determine whether a producer is complying with U.S. production laws, and we will work with the agency to ensure there is a clear plan to deal with this potentially significant problem.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Mobile App Becomes Market Share Leader for American Wineries and Wine Trails

America's Wine Trails has partnered with two of the largest names in the wine industry, Wines & Vines  and WineAmerica to launch the most comprehensive winery app for today's mobile consumer.

America's Wine Trails, LLC announces a new Free mobile app showcasing over 6,000 wineries and 270  wine trails in the United States. The app is available at the Apple and Android app stores. It also available as an HTML5 version that can be used on any mobile browser.

"Our goal is connecting people with wineries. Our mission is to promote local wine in all regions of the country. Providing mobile access to thousands of wineries across North America is one way to do it. We know that this is a great way to reach millions of wine consumers in an environment where they are most engaged; their Smartphones."  - Vince Manzer,  America's Wine Trails, LLC.

Even in a slow economy, the wine industry is growing at a steady pace bolstering winery tourism.  With an industry push to reach Millennials and with over 100 million Smartphones in the US today, it provides the perfect environment for a user friendly app to find wineries and wine trails across the country.

America's Wine Trails, LLC is a young company filled with a passion and dedication to produce a quality app that will become a useful tool for users to seek out new adventures while discovering great wine and wineries throughout our nation.

Teaming up with WineAmerica and Wines & Vines provided the resources and experience to put together the most comprehensive listing of wineries and wine trails available today. Using a sophisticated search matrix, the app allows the user to find wineries with several options, including by "type of
Varietal" used to make it's wines. Other popular features to the app are; "Find A Winery Near Me" and "My Wine Journal". The journal allows the user to log their favorite wines and wines they have tasted in tasting rooms for future reference.

Note to Wineries: Wineries are encouraged to become members of America's Wine Trails which provides them an expanded description about their winery helping generate a stronger interest from future customers.  Be sure to check out our wine trail video tours.  This is a great way for wineries to reach out to future customers on a personal level with an invitation from the owner to visit with a message about the winery and its wines.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why FDA's New Registration Requirement is a Victory for America's Wineries

By Cary Greene

Since FDA’s biennial registration requirement went live on October 22, we’ve been hearing from concerned members asking us whether registration is the first step toward an FDA takeover of wine regulation.  The quick answer is no.  In fact, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the new law that created the biennial registration requirement, goes a long way toward preventing such a takeover.

As we reported last July, the FSMA contains a first of its kind exemption that excludes alcohol beverages from the vast majority of the law’s new food production requirements.  The law effectively instructs FDA to keep its hands off of wine regulation.

Federal laws governing wine production were designed to keep tainted products out of the market.  If there is a safety problem with a wine, TTB has legal tools to get it off the market.  The FSMA was written to give FDA powers that TTB already has.  Last year, we argued that including alcohol in the FSMA would undermine a regulatory system with strong safety checks built into it.  Giving FDA new power over alcohol would create confusion and business disruption.  Congress ultimately agreed with us.  The first of its kind exemption is the proof.

The FSMA is a milestone for wineries.  It’s the first time federal law governing food and beverage production specifically exempts alcohol beverages.  For more than a century, the overlap between federal food and alcohol laws has created confusion.  Finally, confusion is giving way to some clarity.

The biennial registration requirement is a modest burden compared to what could have been.  There was a real chance wineries could have faced conflicting FDA and TTB safety standards.  The exemption prevents this conflict, and creates a powerful and positive precedent that we can turn to in the future.

TTB and FDA will always need to work out their jurisdictional differences.  When these differences pop up, WineAmerica will need to ensure that America’s wineries gets heard.  At the same time, the FSMA has put us on stronger footing, making it clearer that Congress wants wine regulation in the hands of alcohol beverage regulators, not food and health regulators.

When you register your winery this fall and winter, remember that WineAmerica’s efforts have restricted, not expanded, FDA’s power over your business.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Registering Wineries as "Food Facilities"

Edit: The registration is now active.  Please register.

By Cary M. Greene

It’s time to try to register your winery with FDA.

As WineAmerica announced last July when the Food Safety Modernization Act became law, wineries are required to register as “food facilities” with the Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) “[d]uring the period beginning on October 1 and ending on December 31 of each even-numbered year.”  See 21 U.S.C. § 350d(a)(3) (emphasis added).

That would mean wineries are supposed to renew their registration with FDA over the next three months.

Ordinarily, FDA’s website is user friendly and online registration fairly straightforward.  FDA even has a Help Desk line, 800-216-7331, in case you run into trouble.  Currently, however, the site where wineries would register contains a notice:

Biennial Registration Renewal for Food Facilities will not be available on October 1, 2012.  We therefore will not be accepting food facility registration renewals at this time.  Please check FDA’s website at at a later date or sign up for FSMA updates to be informed when it becomes available.  Additional information regarding Registration Renewal may be found on the FSMA Registration page.

We’ve checked with FDA, and they’re saying that wineries don’t need to submit their renewal registrations for 2012 yet.  This doesn’t mean you’re released of your obligation to register this year, it just means you need to check periodically on FDA’s registration page, or the WineAmerica blog, until registration goes live.

Edit:  The registration is now active.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

TTB Approves Vintage Dating for Wines Labeled with an American Appellation of Origin

TTB will now allow wines labeled with a country appellation of origin, including American appellation wines, to disclose their vintage.  Until the announcement of this new rule, TTB had long prohibited wines with a country appellation of origin from including a vintage date.  In its Final Rule, TTB states:

This amendment will provide greater grape sourcing and wine labeling flexibility to winemakers, both domestic and foreign, while still ensuring that consumers are provided with adequate information as to the identity and quality of the wines they purchase.

WineAmerica was instrumental in the adoption of this new standard.  The publication of the Final Rule follows numerous meetings over the past few years to determine TTB’s openness to a regulatory change, and WineAmerica comments in favor of a European Commission petition submitted late last year.  In the adoption of its Final Rule, TTB quoted extensively from our comments.

The Final Rule will go into effect on November 13.  WineAmerica will work with our members and TTB to ensure a smooth transition.

You can find WineAmerica’s comment in support of the new rule here, and TTB’s Final Rule here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Farm Bill Now Coalition Unites Nation’s Farm Groups in Push for New Farm Bill

The following is a press release from the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, of which WineAmerica is a member.

Farm Bill Now Coalition Unites Nation’s Farm Groups in
Push for New Farm Bill

New website, events in Iowa, DC, highlight effort to provide American farmers with certainty, security

WASHINGTON, DCThe Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance has joined a coalition of 39 of the nation’s foremost agricultural organizations to raise public awareness of the need for Congress to pass a new, comprehensive, five-year farm bill before current farm programs expire in September.

The coalition, called Farm Bill Now, comprises associations and coalitions representing commodity crops, livestock, dairy, specialty crops, state and local governments, minor crops, energy and bio-based product groups, farm cooperatives and financial groups, as well as the nation’s two largest farm groups, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union. Each organization has strong and distinct policy priorities, yet all 39 are committed to passing a new, comprehensive bill this year.

The group issued the following statement titled “Why We Need a Farm Bill,” on the importance of new farm legislation for America’s farmers:

“Calling the farm bill the ‘farm bill’ suggests its impact is limited only to farms and to the rural areas to which they are so closely tied. It’s really a jobs bill. A food bill. A conservation bill. A research bill. An energy bill. A trade bill. In other words, it’s a bill that affects every American.

“The farm bill affects our nation’s ability to provide the necessities of life for a global population projected to pass 9 billion by 2050. Here at home, it affects an industry that provides 23 million—or 1 in every 12—American jobs.

“The farm bill has broad impact on our citizens and our economy. It provides healthy foods to millions of schoolchildren and nutritious options to families in need. It develops and expands trade with valuable foreign markets. By reducing spending significantly compared to prior farm bills, the proposals pending right now in Congress address the need to get our nation’s fiscal house in order.

“And yes, it benefits American farms—98 percent of which are owned and operated by families. It helps big farms and small farms, major crops and specialty crops, organic farmers and conventional farmers, cattle ranchers and cotton ginners, farmers markets and national suppliers, and the vast range of other pursuits that make up American agriculture. This year, it would help farmers tackle the challenges posed by the worst drought in a generation.

“While Congress waits to finish the farm bill, we are united in asking all Americans to encourage legislators—home for summer town hall meetings and speeches—to finish this vital legislation before the current farm and food law expires in September. After all, it’s your bill, too.”

In addition to the statement, Farm Bill Now launched an interactive web portal at, through which visitors can connect with their members of Congress and show their support for a new five-year farm bill.  Using messages to Congress via social media, event locations and times and an online petition, gives farmers and consumers the resources they need to make their voices heard, telling Congress that the farm bill needs to be completed before the current farm food law expires in September.

In the coming weeks, Farm Bill Now will hold events in Iowa and on Capitol Hill to underscore the message.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, August 28, farmers representing multiple groups within the coalition will discuss the Farm Bill Now effort at the annual Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, the nation’s largest outdoor farm show.

On the morning of September 12, coalition representatives will gather at the U.S. Capitol to encourage Congress to pass the bill before programs expire.

For more information on Farm Bill Now and to get involved in ensuring that American agriculture has the security and certainty that it needs, please visit


Farm Bill Now is a coalition of 39 agricultural groups, each with strong and varied policy priorities, yet all committed to passing a farm bill this year. Learn more at

25x'25 Alliance
Agricultural Retailers Association
American Beekeeping Federation
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Feed Industry Association
American Pulse Association
American Seed Trade Association
American Sheep Industry Association
American Soybean Association
American Sugar Alliance
Biobased Products Coalition
Council of State Governments East
Council of State Governments Midwest
Farm Credit Council
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Barley Growers Association
National Cattlemen's Beef Association
National Corn Growers Association
National Cotton Council
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Farmers Union
National Milk Producers Federation
National Potato Council
National Sorghum Producers
National Sunflower Association
Northharvest Bean Growers Association
Northeast State Association for Agricultural Stewardship
Produce Marketing Association
Southern Peanut Farmers Federation
Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance
State Agriculture and Rural Leaders
United Dairymen of Arizona
United Fresh Produce Association
U.S. Canola Association
U.S. Dry Bean Council
USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council
USA Rice Federation
Western Growers Association
Western Peanut Growers Association

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance is a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products. The alliance was established to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop agriculture and improve the health of Americans by broadening the scope of U.S. agricultural public policy. For more information, visit