The Wine Origins Alliance (WOA), a global coalition of 31 organizations representing nearly 90,000 wineries and grape growers, recently convened virtually in Washington, DC and Brussels to discuss with U.S. and EU policymakers barriers to trade in wine, including harmful tariffs and the lack of effective protection of wine region names in the U.S. and around the world.
WOA members have generated nearly one million jobs and more than $8 billion in global wine exports. However, the global wine industry has been significantly harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that harm has been compounded by retaliatory tariffs on wine that have been imposed as part of unrelated trade disputes. WOA members met with members of Congress, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Mission to the European Union, the EU Delegation to the United States and the European Commission to advocate for the permanent removal of these tariffs and other non-tariff barriers to trade in wine, including the protection of wine region names.
A 2018 survey found that 94 percent of American wine drinkers support laws that would protect consumers from misleading wine labels. However, despite this overwhelming support, some countries, including the U.S., permit geographic names on labels of wine that do not originate in those places. This makes it difficult for consumers to truly know the wine they purchase is in fact from a region they know and is harmful to the credibility of the wine industry as a whole. In their meetings, WOA members explained how truth in wine labeling protects the integrity of international wine place names and ensures that the wines consumers purchase are in fact from the region they expect.
Earlier this year, WOA sent U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Tai a letter detailing several ongoing trade issues impacting the wine industry, including harmful retaliatory tariffs and the lack of effective name protection for wine regions. The Alliance also sent a letter last year calling on the EU Commissioner on Trade to avoid imposing retaliatory tariffs on wine.