WASHINGTON — WineAmerica, the National Association of American Wineries, recently installed new members on its Board of Directors and discussed the outlook in Washington heading into 2023.
The annual Fall Retreat, this year held at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Washington on November 14-15, also included updates on the organization’s membership, government affairs activities, and 2022 National Economic Impact Study.
“This was an excellent and productive gathering reflective of WineAmerica’s continuing evolution,” said WineAmerica President Jim Trezise, who served on the organization’s Board and Executive Committee for 25 years before becoming President in 2017. “The new Board members bring fresh perspectives and energy to blend with the dedication and experience of longtime Directors.”
The newly installed Directors, elected by the membership in October, are Michelle Kaufman of the Stoller Wine Group (OR), Edward Matovcik of Constellation Brands (NY, CA, WA), and Erica Paolicelli of Three Brothers Winery (NY).
WineAmerica’s Board structure reflects its national scope. The four largest states (CA, NY, OR, WA) each have one representative, with California getting a second due to its industry size. There are also several regional seats (Northeast, Southeast, Great Lakes, Midwest, and Rocky Mountain) along with at-large seats that can be filled with industry representatives from anywhere.
The current officers are:
- Debra Dommen, Treasury Wine Estates (CA), Chair of the Board
- Scott Osborn, Fox Run Vineyards (NY), Vice Chair
- Dana Huber, Huber Vineyards (IN, Great Lakes), Treasurer
- Marty Clubb, L’Ecole No. 41 (WA), Past Chair
Other Executive Committee Members include:
- Moya Shatz Dolsby, Idaho Wine Commission
- Ryan Pennington, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates (WA, CA, OR), Chair of Government Affairs Committee
Additional Directors are:
- Mario Mazza, Mazza Vineyards (PA, Northeast region)
- Dave Fussell, Duplin Winery (NC, SC, FL, Southeast region)
- Chris Brundett, William Chris Vineyards (TX, Midwest region)
- Garrett Portra, Carlson Vineyards (CO, Rocky Mountain region)
- George Christie, Saini Vineyards (CA)
- Marie-Chantal Dalese, Chateau Chantal (MI)
- Michelle Kaufman, Stoller Wine Group (OR)
- Max McFarland, Mac’s Creek Vineyards (NE)
- Edward Matovcik, Constellation Brands
- Erica Paolicelli, Three Brothers Winery (NY)
The Board also applauded the outstanding service of three individuals who served WineAmerica for years or even decades: Doug Caskey, Director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board; Jerry Douglas, former Vice President of Biltmore Estates Winery (NC); and Janie Brooks Heuck of Brooks Wines (OR), who recently served as Chair and Vice Chair.
The conference also focused on WineAmerica membership initiatives, WineAmerica’s 2022 National Economic Impact Study of the Wine Industry, the midterm elections, and WineAmerica priorities for 2023.
Vice President of Development Tara Good provided an update on WineAmerica’s membership, which includes nearly 500 winery, association, and supplier supporters from around the country. In addition, a new system she has been developing will provide more frequent contact with members while reducing the required staff time to do so, starting with the membership drive in January.
President Jim Trezise gave a PowerPoint presentation on the economic impact study, and its potential use not only in Washington but also every single state. Unveiled in September in Congress, the study showed that the wine industy’s impact in 2022 will exceed $276 billion, and that most key measures–jobs, wages, total output–are significantly up since 2017 when a similar study was conducted, also by John Dunham & Associates. WineAmerica will be marketing the new study aggressively when the new Congress convenes in January.
Executive Vice President and Director of Government Affairs Michael Kaiser reviewed the current status of various legislative and regulatory initiatives, WineAmerica’s involvement in them, and the outlook through the end of this year and into 2023.
The midterm elections, once predicted as a giant “Red Wave” with some 60 House seats flipping to Republicans, ended up as a trickle, with the GOP instead having a very slim majority. Meanwhile, the Senate will remain under Democrat control, which might even grow depending on the outcome of the Georgia runoff in December.
Divided government typically breeds legislative gridlock, and that seems even more likely given the toxic partisanship infecting Washington these days. However, one thing we know is that, for wine-specific issues, a Democrat-controlled Senate is a huge bonus due to the number of strong supporters, starting with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) to Senators Ron Wyden (OR, Chair of the Finance Committee), Debbie Stabenow (MI, Chair of the Agriculture Committee), and many other Senators from significant wine producing states. They are certainly inclined to provide a much more receptive audience to our issues than would their colleagues across the aisle.
Regardless, WineAmerica will continue to work on a nonpartisan basis with legislators from both parties, and to remind them that wine is produced in all 50 states–and a major part of their own states’ economies.
WineAmerica’s website contains a wealth of information about the organization and the industry, as well as an invitation to subscribe to a free weekly e-newsletter (WineAmerica Perspectives) by President Jim Trezise. The organization also welcomes membership from American wineries, associations, and industry suppliers.
WineAmerica is the National Association of American Wineries headquartered in Washington, DC, with a focus on grassroots public policy advocacy at the federal level to protect and enhance the business climate for the American wine industry. The organization also includes a State and Regional Associations Advisory Council (SRAAC) of winery trade association leaders from around the country, and represents over 400 members from 40 states.