Wine, Wood and a Tariff Tiff

Washington and Ottawa lob trade barbs, NZ sends record level of wine to U.S. and frost ravages Bordeaux vineyards.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his Ottawa office.

Usually when you see wine and wood in the same sentence, you think of barrels. But in response to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to impose new, 20 percent anti-subsidy tariffs on Canadian lumber, that country’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is considering banning or imposing fresh tariffs on Oregon wine.

Ross, who before becoming commerce secretary made his billions in leveraged buyouts, estimated the U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.duties would affect $5 billion worth of softwood lumber imports from Canada.  Oregon has been one of the loudest supporters of a tax on Canadian softwood lumber.

Trudeau, who is threatening to ban shipments of U.S. thermal coal from Pacific ports, according to Reuters, also is considering duties on Oregon wine. U.S. lumber companies charge that Canadian lumber is unfairly subsidized.

A spokesman for the prime minister would not comment directly on any duties regarding Oregon wines. “The government is on record as saying we’re going to defend our lumber industry quite vigorously and we’ll look at all the options available to us,” he told Wine Enthusiast.

NZ Wine Exports to U.S. top $500 Million

The latest data from Statistics New Zealand show wine exports to the United States have surpassed $500 million for the first time, up 11 percent in the last year. As the wine industry advances toward its goal of $2 billion of exports in 2020, there is significant potential for further growth in North America, said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.Sunrise at Murdoch James Estate Wines in Wairarapa, NZ.

“New Zealand wine, especially Sauvignon Blanc, is very popular in the U.S. and we expect consumer demand to continue to grow,” Gregan said in a press release. “The new record level of wine exports into the world’s largest and most competitive market is an outstanding achievement for New Zealand wine exporters and testifies to the strong global demand for our wines.” New Zealand wine exports reached a record $1.63 billion in year end March 2017. Wine is now New Zealand’s fifth-largest export good by value.

Mother Nature Might Have Cost Bordeaux $2.2 Billion

Bordeaux vineyards in southwest France could lose about half of their harvest this year after two nights of frost damaged the crop at the end of April, a wine industry official told Reuters over the weekend.

Wines from the Cognac, Bergerac and Lot-et-Garonne regions have also been affected, Bernard Farges, head of the Syndicat des vins Bordeaux et Bordeaux Supérieur, told Reuters.

“For Bordeaux wines … we estimate that the impact will be a loss of about 50 percent, depending on how many buds can regrow,” he said.

Including lost earnings at wine industry subcontractors, the total damage is estimated at $1.1 billion-$2.2 billion, (1 billion-2 billion euros), with wine production set to fall by about 350 million bottles.

 Central Coast Wine Pioneer Announces Retirement

After four decades of vine growing on the California Central Coast, Ken Volk announced he will be retiring and plans to offer his eponymously named winery and wine brand up for sale at an asking price of $5.5 million.

A wine and viticulture education advocate, Volk helped to fund the pilot winery at his alma mater, California Polytechnic State University, and served as the chairman of the Industry Advisory Council for 10 years. He has trained and mentored countless successful winemakers and industry professionals over the past four decades.

Kenneth Volk Vineyards is located in the original Byron Winery. Founded by Dale Hampton, John Donovan and partner Ken Brown, the property and brand were acquired by Robert Mondavi in 1990. This landmark 25,000-plus case winery and tasting room is nestled along Tepusquet Creek in Santa Barbara’s bucolic Santa Maria Valley American Viticultural Area. The facility has been extensively upgraded and equipped for high-end, modern winemaking.

After establishing his vineyards, Volk served two terms on the board of directors of the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association.

Napa Boutique Winery Hires National Sales Director

The boutique Napa winery Arrow&Branch said Brian Wallace, formerly of Luxury Wine Partners and Winebow, has been hired as their director of national sales. The winery, which produces about 1,200 cases annually, says its goal is to create small, hand-crafted lots of some of the best Napa Valley vineyards including the estate Cabernet Franc vineyard. It currently produces four wines that range from the ’16 Sauvignon Blanc, retailing for $35, to the ’13 Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon with an MSRP of $175.

Published on May 9, 2017
Topics: Latest News
About the Author
Leslie Gevirtz
Contributing Editor, Business

An award-winning journalist, Gevirtz spent more than 20 years covering disasters—natural, political, and financial—before becoming Reuters’ wine correspondent; a beat that guaranteed her colleagues were always glad to see her.



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