News - Wine, Spirits, Beer

Good News for Exporters of US Whiskey

December 20, 2023

The EU and the US came to an agreement yesterday to continue the suspension of retaliatory tariffs in the steel and aluminum dispute. This means that the 50% tariffs on American Whiskey that was scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2024, will not be implemented. Instead, the tariff will continue to be suspended until March 15, 2025, which is great news for the beverage alcohol industry.

WSSA has been working diligently with DISCUS to oppose the implementation of these tariffs, and we are very pleased to share this positive news with our members. Thank you all for your continued support of WSSA, and we look forward to what the new year has in store.

50% Tariff on American Whiskey Looming

October 27, 2023

WSSA continues to engage in the fight to ensure retaliatory tariffs are not re-instated for American whiskeys shipped to the EU. A joint statement was issued on Friday, October 20th, by President Biden and EU President Ursula von der Leyen advising that they have not reached an agreement in the ongoing steel and aluminum dispute and that negotiations would continue for the next months if they cannot conclude the talks by December 31. December 31 marks the deadline of the temporary suspension of the tariffs, and on January 1, 2024, the EU will once again impose tariffs, at double the previous rate, going from 25% to 50% tariff. There is a potential extension of the suspension of the tariffs while negotiations continue, but this is not guaranteed.  

WSSA will continue to work with the “Toasts not Tariffs” coalition to pressure Congress to finalize the negotiation and end retaliatory tariffs on American whiskey. Should you want further information on the history of the tariffs or further details on this situation, please let us know.  

CBMA Importer Portal is Now Live!

April 7, 2023

The importer portal for CBMA claims is now live. Many importers have activated the process and reviewing their claims already! Should you have any questions, please reach out to WSSA for assistance. Please see below TTB alert:

TTB's CBMA Importer Claims System is Now Available

Importers seeking refunds based on Craft Beverage Modernization Act (CBMA) tax benefits assigned to them by foreign producers may now access the CBMA Importer Claims System available in myTTB.  Importers may file claims for refunds based on entries made during the first calendar quarter of 2023. 

TTB has published a user guide that provides step-by-step instructions for submitting claims in the myTTB CBMA Importer Claims System through the regular claims submission process. The user guide is available on the CBMA Imports page on  TTB has also published an alternate procedure and accompanying user guide for submitting claims in limited circumstances in which the regular claims process cannot be used.

To access the myTTB CBMA Importer Claims system, importers must first create their myTTB account, activate their entity in myTTB, and authorize users to prepare and submit claims.  Instructions on how to do so are available here.

For additional information about CBMA importer refund claims, please visit

CBMA Importer Claim Account Setup

March 24, 2023

TTB has released the below guidelines for creating your myTTB account in preparation for the CBMA importer portal going live on April 3rd. An owner or officer of the company must create a myTTB account, the key contact in the Permits Online Portal must create the account, and they can then activate the account and authorize any user within the company or a third party to access their claims portal. The activation step is now live so we encourage everyone to be proactive and have the accounts setup and the authorizations issued to avoid delays with filing when the portal goes live. Please see the how-to-guide and statement issued by TTB below.

Additionally, TTB offered a webinar yesterday providing an overview of the CBMA importer portal and how to prepare. As mentioned, the portal will go live on April 3, 2023. The entries that were flagged with the “C” indicator and included the required data elements at time of entry will be reflected in the portal. The guidelines on how to update any errors with your data elements or TTB permit number will be released by TTB via industry circular in conjunction with the release of the portal. Once additional guidelines are published on how to process revisions and alternative filing options, we will let you know.

Should you need assistance with filing your claims please reach out to us at

CBMA 2023 Updates

January 13, 2023

Customs Entry Error Messages:

We are hearing from many customs brokers and self-filers that they are receiving error or warning messages pertaining to data supplied for CBMA eligible customs entries. The most common is a message noting PRODUCER ID UNKN; TTB CBMA CLAIM MAY FAIL. Both TTB and CBP are aware of this issue and are working on a resolution in the system. We do not expect this to create issues on CBMA claims, but we are monitoring the situation and will send an update when we have more information.

TTB’s newsletter this week highlighted some very important information regarding CBMA. Below are the highlights from the newsletter:

  1. Incorrect or Incomplete Data Submitted in ACE May Delay CBMA Importer Claims – It is important to ensure that the data elements submitted electronically through ACE, via your broker, are submitted accurately as incorrect data may cause a delay in the claim processing. If data is input incorrectly it is important to have your broker update via ACE in order to streamline TTB’s processing of CBMA import refund claims. If you are unable to make corrections via ACE, “the importer’s claim will be handled through a manual data upload process that could extend the time it takes to obtain the tax refund.” We are still waiting for TTB to release details on the manual data upload but believe this process will be further clarified once the guidelines for the importer portal are published. TTB states that importers should pay particular attention to ensuring the Importer Permit Number, Foreign Producer ID and Import Date are accurate when entries are submitted.
  2. Webinar – Walk-through of Foreign Producers Registration System – TTB will be hosting a step-by-step overview of the foreign producer registration and assignment process. The webinars will be held on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 at 11 am ET and Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 3 pm ET. We encourage importers and producers to attend. Registration links are below:

Register here for the January 24 webinar.

Register here for the January 26 webinar.

As always, WSSA is here to help with all of your CBMA needs. To find out more how we can help please reach out to

CBMA 2023 Procedure & Requirements Memo

December 20, 2022

CBP has issued the attached Cargo Systems Message (CSMS) reminding everyone of the changes coming in 2023 to the CBMA process. The full IRT rate will be due at time of entry effective January 1, 2023. While your customs broker will work to input the proper rate, it is important that importers double-check their entry summaries to ensure the lower CBMA tax rate is not taken at time of entry. For FTZ or bonded entries with import dates between 2018 – 2022, those will still follow the previous CBMA process, and the lower rate can be claimed at time of withdrawal or removal from FTZ even if removed during 2023. Please review the full CSMS message here for further clarification on the overall steps of the new process.

We are continuing to assist importers and producers on all aspects of the new process and are happy to help with any foreign producer registrations or general questions.

Should you have any questions or need any assistance with getting setup for the 2023 process please reach out to us.

CBMA 2023 Process Follow up & Feedback

December 2, 2022

The public comment period for the new 2023 CBMA refund process for imported alcohol (notice of proposed ruling) closed on November 22, 2022. In total, 15 comments were submitted. Below is an overview of the comments.

Impact on small businesses – Request for TTB to assess the impact of the proposed rule on small entities and consider less burdensome alternatives. Many commentors suggest continuing paying the lower tax at time of entry.

Time limits on assignment submissions – Suggestion to extend period until February of the following year to include suppliers who don’t issue assignments until the end of the year.

Quarterly Filing – Request for monthly filings instead of quarterly to reduce the impact on small importers. Suggestion to allow small and medium importers whose refund claim is $50,000 annually to have the ability to file monthly. 

Issues with data elements – If the supplier does not submit assignments until the end of the year then all entries will have to be corrected to include the proper data elements adding extra work and cost. There are no clear details on how to handle should the entry liquidate without the data elements. Suggestion to eliminate the data elements. 

Refunds process clarification – Request for the refund claims to be submitted via direct deposit with notice issued to filer providing details of the entries paid with the payment. Direct deposit would allow for a more timely refund and less paperwork processing for both parties. 

Express Authorization Statement – Request to have an express statement provided by TTB for foreign producers to use to assign importers or third parties as their registration agent.

Ownership Confidentiality – Many privately held companies do not want their ownership information disclosed to their importer or the US government and request a way to make this information private and to know how it is being used by TTB.

10% Ownership Requirements – Request for further clarification on the need to provide the 10% ownership details of an owner who also owns 10% or more of a company that is issuing credits. 

TTB and CBP online communications – Request to have the online interface between CBP and TTB to be continuous so TTB can access data immediately in order to expediently pay the refunds claims.

CBP Bonds – The new process will require importers to take on a larger surety bond potentially requiring them to maintain larger letters of credit from banks. An expeditious payment process will help relieve some of the increased bond requirements.

PSC and Protest Process – Request to provide more details on how this process will work with the new system, especially with liquidated entries.

TTB will review and reply to the comments in the coming months. Action, if any, to the ruling based on the comments could take much longer so please do not expect anything to change in the immediate future. Please continue with the process as the original ruling posed, and we will advise you of any changes to the ruling should they become available.

Join WSSA & Albatrans at WBWE 2022!

November 15, 2022

Join us at WBWE 2022!

November 21-22, 2022

Amsterdam RAI, Hall 2 & 3

WSSA and Albatrans staff from Germany, the UK, Canada, France, and the USA will be exhibiting at the 2022 World Bulk Wine Exhibition!

Come visit us at Stand A09!

WSSA's Managing Director, Alison Leavitt, will be conducting a conference on Risk Management entitled, "Risk Management & Bulk Shipping: Understand Cargo Insurance and Flexibag Options.” The seminar will take place at the event conference room November 21st at 4:20pm. 

The WBWE fair brings together virtually all of the bulk wine producing and exporting countries and is expected to host over 6,000 visitors. Albatrans and WSSA continue to handle an increased volume of flexis and isotanks and we look forward to seeing many of our current and new shippers at this event. 

If you are interested in setting up an appointment with our global logistics team to discuss your bulk logistics programs, please contact us! We look forward to seeing you in Amsterdam!

CBMA Process Update

September 22, 2022

As we have previously published, responsibility for administering the Craft Beverage Modernization Act (CBMA) tax benefits for imported alcohol are being transferred to TTB from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) effective January 1, 2023. Tomorrow, the below documents will be published detailing the new TTB refund process effective January 1, 2023. We will be reviewing these documents and provide a summary of the new process in the next few days.

CBMA 2023 - Updates & Reminders

July 5, 2022

Last year we reported that the CBMA process effective January 1, 2023 would no longer be administered by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and will be administered by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). With the change of administration comes changes to the CBMA process. WSSA has been working with TTB on the overall process, providing feedback when possible, as well as helping get the word out to importers regarding the new process. TTB has asked we send a reminder  to our members noting the changes and some key timelines on the process. Below are the summarized points and following are the detailed points provided by TTB.

Summary of key changes:

  • Importers will have to pay the full federal excise tax rate at time of entry
  •  Importers will have to submit quarterly refunds claims via the importer portal, importer can choose to file less frequently
  • Two new modules are being created for the registration and claims process:
    •  Foreign Producer Module
      • Foreign producers must register with TTB and assign CBMA benefits to importers via the module
      • The module is expected to go live October 202
    • Importer Claims Module
      • Importers must register with TTB and submit refund requests via the module
      • The module is expected to go live early 2023
  • Importers must keep the CBMA required documents on file for inspection or submission to TTB as requested
  • The seven CBMA data elements will still be required at time of entry
  • Additional regulations will be published this summer finalizing the process

While there are still some pending details, we are working with TTB to confirm the details and hopefully everything will be covered when the regulations are published this summer. Should you have any questions or comments please reach out. As mentioned above, below is the summary provided by TTB on the new changes and status updates:

  • In December 2020, Congress made the CBMA tax benefits permanent and made other changes to the law.  As a result of these changes, importers will no longer be eligible for the lower CBMA tax rates at the time of entry.  Rather, importers will be required to pay the full tax rate at entry and submit refund claims to receive the lower rates.
  • These statutory changes also transferred responsibility for administering certain CBMA provisions for imported alcohol from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to the Treasury Department after December 31, 2022.  In a June 2021 Report to Congress, Treasury stated that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) will be responsible for implementing these provisions on behalf of Treasury.  The statutory changes direct Treasury to determine the amount of refunds not less frequently than quarterly, and Treasury stated in its report that TTB plans to set a quarterly refund period.
  • TTB is currently preparing regulations as well as two online systems to implement these provisions.  As described in the report, one system will allow foreign producers to register with TTB and assign CBMA benefits to importers; the other system will allow importers to submit refund claims to TTB. TTB plans to publish the implementing regulations in the near future, along with guidance and other informational materials.  TTB currently plans to deploy the first system module, which will allow foreign producers to register with TTB and assign CBMA benefits to importers, in October 2022, and then deploy the importer claims module in early 2023.
  • After the regulations are published, TTB intends to provide guidance, webinars, and other forms of training sessions to help ensure that you are all informed about the relevant requirements and able to understand and use the new systems.

Again, please reach out with any questions or comments.

CBMA Foreign Producer Survey

May 2, 2022

WSSA has been working directly with TTB (USA Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) to provide input and assistance on the development of the new CBMA process for USA importers which will take effect January 1, 2023. While the general process has been outlined, the developers are working on the modules. Our intention is to work with TTB to provide input from the beverage alcohol community in order to make the new process user friendly for all parties involved. The first step of the process has been the development of the foreign producer module. Part of the new CBMA process involves a step whereby the foreign producer (or potentially a designated third party) providing CBMA allocation registers with the TTB using the “foreign producer module” and supplies all key information currently provided via the allocation letter and controlled group spreadsheets. While TTB is close to completion on this step they are requesting additional input from foreign producers to ensure all needed aspects are included in the foreign producer module. Below is a note from TTB regarding a brand new survey that they are putting out, along with the link to the survey. Please feel free to  share this with your CBMA eligible foreign producers, or let us know if you would like us to provide to them directly. The more information that TTB receives, the better the module should work. If you are a producer providing CBMA allocation to your USA importer and need more information, please feel free to reach out to us.

As part of TTB’s ongoing CBMA efforts, TTB is seeking your assistance with distributing a survey to foreign companies that export alcohol to the United States. Beginning January 1, 2023, importers will be required to pay the full tax rate at entry and submit refund claims to TTB to receive the lower CBMA tax rates based on annual foreign producer assignments of their tax benefits. Foreign producers seeking to assign tax benefits for their products will provide information directly to TTB through an online system.

To prepare for these changes, and to assist with TTB’s development of the online system, TTB would like to learn more about the foreign companies that export alcohol to the United States to help ensure our digital services are responsive to the needs of these companies. If you could please share this survey with your foreign suppliers that export alcohol to the United States, TTB would greatly appreciate it:

This anonymous survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete, is currently open, and closes on May 25, 2022.  

We appreciate your willingness to assist. Should you have any questions please feel free to reach out to us at

UK Tariff on American Whiskey Removed

March 23, 2022

In the midst of all the negative news surrounding the global supply chain disruption comes a break of positivity. In some very great news for the alcohol beverage industry, yesterday the U.S. and UK announced an agreement in the steel and aluminum dispute, under which the UK will remove its 25% retaliatory tariff on American Whiskeys effective June 1, 2022 and remove the threat of retaliatory tariffs on American wines. The announcement from the Department of Commerce can be found hereWith the removal of this tariff, distilled spirits traded between the U.S. and UK/EU are once again duty-free!

Our industry partner DISCUS is issuing a press statement in conjunction with their Toasts Not Tariffs (TNT) Coalition which we have attached here as well. While this is a great development for the alcohol beverage industry, the ultimate goal of the Coalition is to secure the permanent removal of U.S., EU, and UK tariffs on distilled spirits and wines. While we have made significant progress over the last year, our work is not done. The U.S. tariffs on imported EU and UK wines are suspended for five years, and EU tariffs on U.S. rum, brandy and vodka are suspended five years and its tariff on American Whiskey is suspended for two years. Additional background can be found here. WSSA will continue to support DISCUS and their Toasts Not Tariffs Coalition until the tariffs are permanently removed.

WSSA and NABI Need Your Help to Pass the Fair Tariff Act of 2021!

September 2, 2021

WSSA and National Association of Beverage Importers (NABI) are requesting your help to push congress to pass legislation on the FAIR TARIFF Act of 2021

The bill is requesting CBP to refund tariffs imposed under the Airbus dispute on importers whose product was in transit or “on the water” to the US before the Airbus duties became effective on October 18, 2019, and the expanded retaliatory tariffs on January 12, 2021. Not only does the bill request the refunds but also requires USTR to apply future retaliatory tariffs on only those goods exported after the publication of the tariffs. This legislation would prevent importers from being caught in the middle of a tariff dispute and forced to pay unexpected, and often a dramatic, increase in duties on goods on the water in this type of tariff implementation.

Grassroots support is essential for this legislation to pass. We are hosting a ZOOM roundtable discussion on this topic on September 22nd at 3pm EST (official invite to come) and will have Roger  Murray, Senior Policy Advisor at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and Rob Tobiasson, Executive Director NABI, in the meeting to provide background details, impact of the potential new law, and actions needed to get this bill passed.  In the meantime, if you are interested in taking immediate action, please reach out to your Representatives to have them co-sponsor the legislation. Rob Tobiassen with NABI has prepared the attached Talking Points to address when reaching out to your Representative. A list of Representatives and office contacts can be found in the link above and are included in the attached as well. The more people we have contacting their Representatives on this topic, the higher the likelihood it is to pass.

WSSA will continue to work with NABI and other associations in a joint  effort to help try and pass this legislation.  We appreciate you reaching out to your Representatives on this matter and please contact us should you have any questions.

CBMA: Update on TTB Report and Future Process

July 21, 2021

As we reported in our update on CBMA permanence, anyone participating in CBMA will see a major change on January 1, 2023.  While all details are not yet available, the preliminary report on the change has been published by Treasury. We have been reviewing the report over the past few weeks and will be continuing to discuss, review, and provide comments and questions to TTB and CBP officials.

The full report and official release can be found here and fulfills the initial requirement of the legislation mandating the publication of the future process within 6 months of the passage of the law. One of the first items we were waiting for was the decision on which division of the Department of the Treasury will handle the CBMA claims as both IRS and TTB were discussed. The first key point is that TTB will be the agency handling the claims. We believe this is a good choice due to the experience TTB already has with beverage alcohol as a commodity and the CBMA law. A few other key points are summarized below

Summary of key points:

  • TTB will administer the refund process and advised that they will require new positions and additional funding
  • The CBMA claim filing process will be via on-line portals created by TTB with 2 new modules
    • Foreign supplier module where foreign supplier directly inputs the assignment certification information.
    • Importer module where importer (or possibly assigned party) files the claim with appropriate information on the entry covered.
  • Refund claim cycle is Quarterly but the filer can choose to file less frequently
  • Importer must keep CBMA required documents on file for inspection or submission to TTB as requested. 
  • Importers may need to post a surety bond (we would suggest that the customs bond is adequate)
  • The seven (7) CBMA information element implemented by Customs this year will continue to be required.
  • Joint enforcement and audit efforts by TTB and CBP.

There are a number of points in the report that are concerning, and we are reviewing with other industry associations to provide feedback and suggestions. We have received many questions from importers in terms of specific issues, from warehouse entries, to interest payments, to foreign supplier registration. Our goal will be to work with all stakeholders to achieve the best possible process and full protection of CBMA benefits. Should you have any questions on the report, please let us know. We will keep all of you advised as the process develops over the next 18 months, and will certainly be offering webinars and training as we get closer to the go live date.

5 Year Suspension of Tariffs

June 15, 2021

We are happy to report that the US and EU have announced that an agreement has been reached to suspend the retaliatory tariffs levied after the WTO decision on the Airbus and Boeing cases for a 5 year period. As you are all aware, we are currently nearing the end of the 4 month suspension period, and it is great news that the suspension should continue for a longer period. The retaliatory tariffs on various imported products from the EU were set at 25% and led to a reduction in the import of many of the tariffed products. The 4 month suspension brought a new surge in volume of the previously tariffed products. The longer suspension should lead to a normalization of import patterns.

US origin products subject to 25% retaliatory tariffs in the EU will also be tariff free under the agreement, excellent news for the US exports of rum, brandy and vodka. This agreement does not affect the tariffs on US whisky exports that fall into a separate trade dispute involving China. 

The European Commission President Ursual von der Leyen stated that the agreement “really opens a new chapter in our relationship because we move from litigation to cooperation on aircraft—after 17 years of dispute." USTR Katherine Tai stated, “Today’s announcement resolves a longstanding trade irritant in the U.S.-Europe relationship."   

We will await the official announcement and will update further as soon as the details are available.

Good News Regarding EU Tariffs on American Whiskey

May 17, 2021

To kick off the week, early this morning the US and the EU issued a joint statement regarding discussions that are about to begin on the global steel and aluminum excess capacity. The statement, available here, specifically addressed, “to ensure the most constructive environment for these joint efforts, they agreed to avoid changes on these issues that negatively affect bilateral trade.” Through this statement and tweets sent by Valdis Dombrovski, the European Commission Executive Vice President, it is clear that the EU will not double the tariff on American Whiskey as of June 1st. A second message sent by SpiritsEurope also confirms this tariff will not be implemented.

Please find the attached links to both Ambassador Katherine Tai’s tweet on this issue along with Secretary Gina Raimondo’s tweet.

This is a huge step in the right direction in the fight against alcohol beverage tariffs, and we are grateful for all the support our members have shown in this endeavor. We will continue to work with DISCUS to do all we can in this effort, and will keep you updated on our progress.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out.

Help Us Make the Tariff Suspension Permanent!

March 26, 2021

Now more than ever, your support is needed to put a permanent stop to the retaliatory tariffs that have negatively impacted the beverage alcohol industry! WSSA is a part of a coalition of over 40 associations supporting the #ToastsNotTariffs initiative. However, we need more support in the House of Representatives to make this effort stronger. When we say now more than ever, we know you are all experiencing delays due to congestion and shipping issues on product moving from Europe. The potential threat of tariffs being reinstated in July will only put further strain on an already strained supply chain. A surge in shipments to get in product before the expiration of the suspension will create even more chaos. Let’s work together to get the tariffs suspension permanent! Below is the information put together by coalition leaders from DISCUS on how you can help.

Please share this letter with your Congressional contacts/delegation members and register the importance of the spirits/beverage alcohol tariff issues to your company. If a Member of Congress is interested in signing, the points of contact for the letter are:

Congressman Yarmuth: Katy Rowley,

Congressman Barr: Daniel Taylor,

To contact your members of Congress,visit the DISCUS grassroots platform Spirits United to drive Congressional signatures on the letter. And please share this campaign with your colleagues, association members, friends, family members to urge their members of the House of Representatives to sign!

Guidelines Published for EU Tariff Suspension

March 15, 2021

As reported last week, the Federal Register Notice was published in regards to the 4 month suspension of tariffs on beverage alcohol from the EU (as well as the UK). To follow up on this, CBP/US Customs published the guidelines Friday evening, March 12, to support the trade community and confirm the process for filing of customs entries. The suspension is effective for products of the EU entered for consumption, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on March 11, 2021 and before 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on July 11, 2021. The instructions per the Customs message CSMS #46590066 can be found below:

  • Per subparagraph 2 of the Annex to the notice, products of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden falling under HTS subheadings 9903.89.05, 9903.89.07, 9903.89.10, 9903.89.13, 9903.89.16, 9903.89.19, 9903.89.22, 9903.89.25, 9903.89.28, 9903.89.31, 9903.89.34, 9903.89.37, 9903.89.40, 9903.89.43, 9903.89.46, 9903.89.52, 9903.89.55, 9903.89.57, 9903.89.59, 9903.89.61, 9903.89.63 will not be subject to additional Section 301 duties for goods entered for consumption, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on March 11, 2021 and before 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on July 11, 2021.
  • Importers shall not submit the corresponding Chapter 99 HTS number for the Section 301 LCA duties for products of the EU during the four-month suspension period. 

Again, we are hopeful for the success of this suspension, and will continue to push for permanent removal of all alcohol beverage products affected by these aircraft disputes. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out.

Additional Guidelines on the UK/EU Tariff Suspensions

March 11, 2021

Last night, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued message CSMS #46561075 providing additional information on the implementation of the four-month tariff suspension on goods from the UK in connection to the Boeing/Airbus dispute. This notice provided additional guidance, procedures and clarified effective dates of the tariff suspension. The message stated:

 • Per subparagraph 2 of the Annex to the notice, products of the United Kingdom falling under HTS subheadings 9903.89.05, 9903.89.07, 9903.89.10, 9903.89.13, 9903.89.16, 9903.89.19, 9903.89.22, 9903.89.25, 9903.89.28, 9903.89.31, 9903.89.34, 9903.89.40, 9903.89.43, 9903.89.46, 9903.89.49, 9903.89.50, and 9903.89.55 will not be subject to additional Section 301 duties for imports, or warehouse withdrawals for consumption, on or after 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on March 4, 2021 and before 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on July 4, 2021.

• Importers shall not submit the corresponding Chapter 99 HTS number for the Section 301 LCA duties for products of the UK during the four-month suspension period.

Additionally, the USTR issued a re-publication of the Federal Register notice relating to the EU tariff suspensions in conjunction with the Boeing/Airbus dispute. This notice clarified the effective dates of the four month suspension for EU tariffs stating, “The 4-month tariff suspension applies to products from the EU entered for consumption, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption on or after 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on March 11, 2021, and before 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on July 11, 2021.” The full notice is attached here for reference.  We now await the publication of a CSMS message from Customs providing the final guidelines for entry filing.

This is a very positive development for the alcohol beverage industry on both sides of the Atlantic. The goal is for businesses to focus on regrowth and development following the difficulties of the past year. We are hopeful for the success of this suspension, and will continue to push for permanent removal of all alcohol beverage products affected by these aircraft disputes. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out.

UK & EU Tariff Suspension Update

March 9, 2021

We have had several follow up questions regarding the suspension of the US-EU and US-UK tariffs as we reported last week. In an effort to keep all of our members in the loop, please find our latest update to this situation. We were told by CBP that a federal register notice with all the guidelines for the UK suspension would be published last Friday. The federal register notice was released yesterday afternoon and indicates the suspension date as expected - March 4th. Thus, the expectation is that any tariffs paid in as of March 4th will be eligible for retroactive refund based on this effective date for the UK only. As of this morning, the CBP system has not been updated to reflect the tariff change, thus entries still need to be processed with the additional WTO tariff. We will send another update as soon as we hear that the system change has been implemented.

While the USTR announcement clearly stated March 4th as the suspension date of UK tariffs, the EU situation was more vague as they included the language: suspension “will become effective as soon as the internal procedures on both sides are completed.” We have sent several follow up requests to CBP to advise any updates. For now, the tariffs will still need to be paid until we have more concrete information. With that said, we do not expect that payments made in this interim period will be eligible for retroactive refunds, but this is purely our speculation at this time. Should you want to try and avoid the payment of duty on incoming shipments, one option is to put your goods into a bonded warehouse until the suspension date is finalized and CBP system updated.  

Once we know more details we will be sure to send out further updates. Stay tuned! As always, please feel free to reach out with additional questions or concerns.

US-EU Boeing/Airbus Tariffs Suspended

March 5, 2021

The suspension of the retaliatory tariffs in place since decisions on the WTO cases involving Airbus and Boeing is now official! We are now awaiting the publication in the Federal Register and adjustments by CBP/US Customs system to effectively process the affected imports without the 25% duty. We will send another update as soon as these details are published. This is much needed good news for importers and exporters in a time of great difficulty due to both pandemic issues and the global shipping meltdown.  

Please see the link to the announcement from the White House here.   

Possible Suspension of EU Tariffs

March 5, 2021

In several news reports circulating today, the US and the EU are close to announcing a plan to suspend EU tariffs in relation to the Airbus and Boeing disputes for a 4 month period. Much like the suspension of tariffs on UK products that went into effect yesterday, the goal is to allow focus on a balanced settlement and time for the industries on both sides of the Atlantic to rebuild. While EU officials have indicated this announcement may drop later today, the news is still unconfirmed. We expect more news later and will then provide the full details, but if all goes as currently reported, all of the 25% tariffs on EU beverage alcohol imported into the USA will be suspended with an immediate effect.   

Regarding the news of the UK tariff suspension, we are still awaiting the update in the Federal Register and confirmation from CBP/US Customs on how the effective date will be applied. We will advise on this matter as soon as it is clarified.

We will continue to monitor this situation closely and provide updates as soon as more information is available.

US-UK Joint Statement on Suspension of Tariffs

March 4, 2021

The US and UK just announced that tariffs on UK distilled spirits products due to the Airbus aircraft dispute will be suspended for a four month period, effective March 4, 2021, in order to ease pressure on the industry and promote a resolution to this ongoing issue. This is a positive step in overall normalization of trade relations but does not yet extend to the EU tariffs. Please also note that the UK’s tariff on American Whiskey still remains in place as this tariff is the result of a different dispute, under Section 232 steel/aluminum tariffs imposed by the USA. Nevertheless, this move will allow for focus on a more balanced settlement to the aircraft dispute and hopefully give businesses a chance to rebuild after a challenging year of COVID and tariff impacts. The items affected by this tariff suspension can be found below:

  • 2208.70.00 – Liqueurs and cordials
  • 2208.30.30 – Single-malt Irish and Scotch Whiskies
  • 2204.21.50 – Wines other thank Tokay (not carbonated), not over 14% alcohol in containers not over 2 liters

WSSA, along with other industry associations, continue to push for the elimination of retaliatory tariffs on all distilled spirits, and thus promote the regrowth of industries in both countries. We are currently checking with CBP/US Customs to determine process and date of implementation of the suspension, and we will send out a report once we have confirmed details from CBP. To review the announcement by the USTR, please click here. As always, please reach out if you have any questions on this new development.

US Allows Sale of 700ml Bottles

February 16, 2021

In the midst of the difficulties plaguing the alcohol beverage and logistics industries, there is a welcome update of good news. Late last year the TTB published guidelines allowing European bottle sizes (700ml) to be permitted into the USA. Prior to this regulation, only 750ml bottles were allowed to be sold in the US market. For European producers, this means they will eventually be able to convert their bottling lines to run a consistent 700ml operation rather than constantly switching in between 700ml and 750ml as had been the case.

This also means that smaller distillers who previously chose not to export their products to the US due to the difference in bottle production, will now have no barriers to inhibit their expansion into the US market. For US consumers, we can look forward to seeing a variety of distilled products not before seen in our stores. While some entities claim that the standardization of the 700ml bottle will increase the risk of counterfeit product, overall the development is a positive step, and will be beneficial both for producers and consumers going forward.

WTO Airbus Tariffs Remain "As Is"

February 11, 2021

While we were hoping for a roll back on the 25% tariffs imposed on EU products, especially the most recent roll out on additional items in January, the USTR announced today that the current list of tariffs will remain as is, with no change in the list or duty amount. As we have reported before, the USTR must do a review (also known as a “carousel”) every 6 months. The next carousel is slated for August 9, 2021.

WSSA is working hand-in-hand with other industry associations to push for a return to the negotiating table. We have asked for a 180-day suspension of the tariffs for further review as well as an outright resolution of the case and elimination of tariffs imposed due to the Airbus and Boeing decisions.

The official announcement can be found here.

Please let us know if you have any questions or need a copy of the updated tariff list.

Request for Suspension of Tariffs

January 25, 2021

WSSA and 72 trade associations have signed off on a letter requesting a suspension of retaliatory tariffs on all products subject to tariffs due to the WTO Airbus and Boeing cases, both in the USA and Europe. The letter reiterates the economic harm caused by the tariffs and urges President Biden and the European Commission President von der Leyen to take action to suspend tariffs and “re-establish a cooperative Trans Atlantic trading relationship."

The letter and press release were issued earlier this morning. We hope that this request will be taken into consideration and result in an outcome that will be beneficial to the beverage alcohol import and export community currently hit with 25% duties on many products. 

As always, we will keep you posted as to any changes. Should you need any other information on this situation, please let us know.

Press Release: WSSA and Industry Associations Oppose Tariffs

January 13, 2021

WSSA and the major industry associations join together in a Press Release issued yesterday requesting suspension of the 25% tariffs on various wine and spirits products imported into the USA and exported to the EU.  Representatives from the EU and UK have joined this letter opposing tariffs and the detrimental effects on a vast array of businesses involved in and related to the beverage alcohol industry.  
We will continue to push for action and will keep all of you posted as to any changes and updates. For further information, please contact WSSA

New Tariff Going into Effect at Midnight Tonight

January 11, 2021

As reported previously, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced additional items to be added to the list of targeted products subject to a 25% duty on top the normal duty on these products. Any of these items imported after 12:01am tonight (January 12) will be subject to the new tariff. If you have any products subject to these tariffs arriving, please be prepared to pay the duty or plan for an alternative process, such as entry into a bonded warehouse. Should you have any of these items currently stored in a bonded warehouse, you may want to consider withdrawal today should you need these products in the near future and avoid paying the higher duty. The items added are listed below for your quick reference.

We have had many questions in regards to the cognac valuation (HTS 2208.20.40) of $38.00 per proof liter. Similar to the situation with single malt and blended whiskies, the USTR has specified that only certain items falling into this classification are targeted. In this case, it is high value grape brandy, and lower valued product will not be hit. We have also had questions about the inclusion of Marsala and Tokay wine items as they are not products that originate in France or Germany. This still has yet to be fully clarified by the USTR, but the assumption is that they wanted all wine types included should they decide to add more countries to the target list at a later date. Please feel free to reach out to us should you have any questions or need further clarification.

Below is the revised list at the 25 percent additional duty.

The following products of France and Germany have been added to the action, and included in Part 18, which has been inserted in the descriptive list in Section 2.

HTS Subheading Product Description

2204.21.20 Effervescent grape wine, in containers holding 2 liters or less

2204.21.30 Tokay wine (not carbonated) not over 14% alcohol, in containers not over 2 liters

2204.21.60 "Marsala" wine, over 14% vol. alcohol, in containers holding 2 liters or less

2204.21.80 Grape wine, other than "Marsala", not sparkling or effervescent, over 14% vol. alcohol, in containers holding 2 liters or less

2204.22.20 Wine of fresh grapes, other than sparkling wine, of an alcoholic strength by volume <=14% in containers holding over 2liters but not over 4liters

2204.22.40 Wine of fresh grapes, other than sparkling wine, of an alcoholic strength by volume >14% in containers holding over 2 liters but not over 4 liters

2204.22.60 Wine of fresh grapes, other than sparkling wine, of an alcoholic strength by volume <=14% in containers holding over 4 liters but not over 10 liters

2204.22.80 Wine of fresh grapes, other than sparkling wine, of an alcoholic strength by volume >14% in containers holding over 4 liters but not over 10 liters

2204.29.61 Wine of fresh grapes, other than sparkling wine, of an alcoholic strength by volume <=14% in containers holding >10 liters

2204.29.81 Wine of fresh grapes, other than sparkling wine, of an alcoholic strength by volume >14% in containers holding >10 liters

2204.30.00 Grape must, nesoi, in fermentation or with fermentation arrested otherwise than by addition of alcohol

2208.20.40** Spirits obtained by distilling grape wine or grape marc (grape brandy), other than Pisco and Singani, in containers each holding not over 4 liters, valued over $38 per proof liter*

The new administration may consider a suspension of the EU tariffs while they review and re-negotiate with the EU, and we will of course keep you advised should anything change.

Just Announced—Programming Changes to Expedite CBMA Tax Credits

August 31, 2018

CSMS# 18-000511 – Craft Beverage Modernization Act (CBMA) Entry Summary Flag and CATAIR Publication

08/31/2018 03:22 PM EDT

Partner Government Agencies

On June 27, 2018, the Office of Trade issued initial guidance on the implementation of the CBMA via CSMS message #18-000403. This message provides additional guidance on CBMA implementation

Under the CBMA, reduced tax rates and/or tax credits are applicable to importations of certain limited quantities of distilled spirits, beer or wine imported from each assigning entity (as described in the CBMA). Further, the allocations of the tax credits or reduced tax rates by the assigning entity to all importers may not exceed the quantities allowed by law. As a result, for an importer to be eligible to receive a reduced tax rate or a tax credit, the importer must be able to substantiate that the assigning entity has assigned an allotment of its reduced tax rate or tax credits to the distilled spirits, beer, or wine imported by that importer.

Pursuant to the interim final rule on Refund of Alcohol Excise Tax, 83 Fed. Reg. 40,675 (August 16, 2018), CBP and Treasury amended 19 CFR 24.36, authorizing CBP to issue refunds owed on entries where the importer received a foreign producer allocation or assignment pursuant to the CBMA when appropriate.

On September 1, 2018, CBP plans to deploy in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) an entry summary line level flag to identify imported alcohol for which the importer has received a CBMA allocation from the foreign producer/assigning entity.

Information on this entry summary flag was published in the Entry Summary Create/Update chapter of the Customs and Trade Automated Interface Requirements (CATAIR) on August 30, 2018.

– The CBMA flag will utilize the existing ‘Product Claim Code’ field in the Line Item Header Grouping (40-record) of the Entry Summary submission, and can be submitted using the value ‘C’ (see the Entry Summary Create/Update CATAIR chapter for additional information).

– This CBMA flag may be transmitted at time of entry summary filing, or subsequently as a Post Summary Correction. At this time, the entry summary line level flag will indicate merchandise for which a claim will be filed subject to the CBMA.

CBP will issue additional guidance on information to be filed substantiating CBMA claims. Upon issuance of this additional guidance, importers will be encouraged to file the claim information simultaneously with the transmission of the entry summary flag.

CBP strongly encourages the use of the CBMA entry summary line flag over the use of protests for identifying merchandise for which a CBMA allocation has been received from the foreign producer/assigning entity. Protests should only be used for CBMA claims if entries for which a CBMA allocation has been received have liquidated.

If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact

WSSA is happy to provide assistance in the analysis of your CBMA credits and best approach to achieve the refunds for the January-August imports, as well as input on this new change!

Trade War Heats Up!

July 9, 2018

The trade war is escalating quickly as China has retaliated against Trump’s trade regulations on over $34 billion of Chinese goods. Tariffs on Chinese goods went into effect Friday morning at 12:00am EST and China quickly countered with regulations of their own. A wider range of US goods will be impacted including vehicles, soybeans, beef, and other agricultural products. While it may take some time for the impact of these tariffs to be felt by US consumers, disruptions within supply chains and rising costs on pre-fabricated goods can be expected.

China, however, is not the only entity to recently impose tariffs on US goods.  The EU, Canada, and Mexico have all jumped on board to send the message to US political leadership. A recent example of that is the EU-imposed 25% tariff on whiskey and bourbon imports from the USA. This tariff which went into effect June 22, 2018, has the potential to cause the whiskey industry a serious financial blow and negatively impact small scale distillers around the country.

We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates when applicable. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Breaking News: Initial Guidelines for Importers to Receive Tax Refunds!

June 28, 2018

The CBP has finally released the long-awaited guidelines on the implementation of the Craft Beverage Modernization Act of 2017. We have provided the guidelines below for your reference. They are also available on the CBP website by clicking the link below.

CSMS# 18-000403 – Implementing the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2017

06/27/2018 09:36 AM EDT

Ocean Manifest


Effective January 1, 2018, the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2017 (CBMA) (as contained in Pub. L. No. 115-97) amended the Internal Revenue Code with respect to the tax treatment of certain alcoholic beverages. Since passage of the CBMA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Department of the Treasury have worked together to coordinate implementation of the CBMA for imports. The provisions of the CBMA are effective during calendar years 2018 and 2019.

The CBMA requires that procedures be established governing how an importer can receive a reduced tax rate on qualifying distilled spirits or beer, or receive a tax credit on qualifying wine. On January 31, 2018, CBP issued Cargo Systems Messaging Service (CSMS) #18-000103, which stated that, until such procedures are established and guidance issued, importers of beer, wine, and distilled spirits seeking to qualify for excise tax relief, based on qualifying assignments made by a foreign producer, should continue to pay the full excise tax rates.

Under the CBMA, reduced tax rates and/or tax credits are applicable to importations of certain limited quantities of distilled spirits, beer, or wine imported from each qualifying foreign producer. Further, the foreign producer must have affirmatively assigned those rates or tax credits to an importer or importers and the quantity assigned to all importers by that producer may not exceed the quantities allowed by law. As a result, for an importer to be eligible to receive a reduced tax rate or a tax credit, the importer must be able to substantiate that the foreign producer has assigned an allotment of its reduced tax rate or tax credits to the distilled spirits, beer, or wine imported by that importer.


Importers will continue to pay the full excise tax rate at time of entry summary filing. CBP and Treasury are considering amending current regulations (19 CFR 24.36) to allow CBP to issue refunds owed pursuant to the CBMA on entries when appropriate. These amendments to 19 CFR 24.36 would apply to entries that have not been finally liquidated and would be retroactive.

In anticipation of the new regulations, CBP suggests importers file protests on liquidated entries for which a CBMA reduced tax rate or credit may be due. Such protests should, at a minimum, include an Excel spreadsheet with information including entry number(s), line number(s) and the following information by line number: producer, alcohol type (beer, wine, cider or distilled spirits), tax rate or credit assigned and requested, and quantity claimed for tax rate or credit.

Refund requests will be processed no earlier than January 15, 2019.

Post Summary Corrections (PSCs) must not to be utilized for requesting refunds until 19 CFR 24.36 has been updated and necessary programming completed. The CBP Centers of Excellence and Expertise (Centers) will reject any PSCs pursuant to CBMA claims pending a regulatory change to 19 CFR 24.36.

Once the regulations are amended and CBP commences accepting CBMA refund requests, importers will need to identify entry summary lines that they believe qualify for excise tax relief under the CBMA. This identification will serve as the importer’s request for relief. CBP plans to develop a flag at the entry summary line level in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) that importers may utilize to request a refund. Further instructions will be published via CSMS once CBP is capable of accepting refund requests.

For the importer to substantiate its eligibility to receive the reduced tax rates or the tax credits and meet its reasonable care obligations, its internal records should, at a minimum, include:

– Foreign producer’s name;

– Foreign producer’s manufacturing facility address and FSMA registration number;

– Number of barrels of beer, number of gallons of wine, and number of proof gallons of distilled spirits eligible for each reduced rate/tax credit assigned to the importer for the calendar year by the representative of the foreign producer authorized to assign its allotment, and documentation showing that quantity as assigned to that specific importer;

– Contact information for such authorized representative; and

– Statement from the authorized representative of the qualifying foreign producer that the number of barrels or wine/proof gallons assigned by the foreign producer (including any members of a controlled group) to all importers for the calendar year does not exceed the quantities allowed by law and does not exceed the foreign producers capacity.

Importers who are assigned reduced tax rates and/or tax credits from multiple foreign producers should maintain in their records the above information applicable to each foreign producer.

If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact

WSSA is Attending the AgTC Annual Meeting!

May 22, 2018

WSSA will be attending the AgTC’s 30th Annual Meeting June 12-15, 2018, in Tacoma, WA!

The AgTC Annual Meeting is the largest gathering of agriculture and forest products transportation professionals and their service providers. The gathering consists of two days of action-packed activities including strategy sessions on issues impacting the industry, networking opportunities, and plenty of outdoor activities such as the WSSA run/walk, golfing, and dining around Tacoma.

As a part of the annual meeting, WSSA will host two events: our annual 5k run/walk the morning of June 13th and a shipper’s panel on leading industry issues the same day at 1pm.

Participants of the 5k run/walk receive a special gift bag and moisture-wicking t-shirt! Please contact us for more information!

Alison Leavitt, Managing Director of WSSA, will be representing the alcoholic beverage industry on a panel on Wednesday, June 13th, at 1pm entitled “The Shipper’s Perspective: Leading AgTC members’ experiences and strategies: How we are dealing with the trucking crisis, avoiding port disruption; documentation/carrier service challenges and other pertinent issues facing shippers today.” Other speakers on the panel include representatives from Leprino Foods, Wilbur Ellis, Fornazor, and Superior Foods.

To find out more about any of these events or to schedule a meeting please contact us!

New Tariffs Begin Today for Wine Shipped to China

April 2, 2018

Effective today, April 2, 2018, China has imposed import duties on a significant amount of agricultural exports, a move that appears to be in direct retaliation of the Trump administration’s new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

The list of products is substantial and includes various kinds of pork, fruit, nuts, and wine varieties. Some of these varieties include sparkling wine, small packaged fresh grapes brewed, and fresh brewed wine packaged between two and ten liter containers. The attached documentlists all of the items impacted by this new tax, along with the specific rate percentage associated with each product.

These new measures point to an impending trade war between the United States and China, a war that may cause some disruption within the US agricultural and forest products industry. As China is the fastest growing market for wine of all origins, exporters in the USA may feel the disadvantageous effects of these new tax rates, and a potential shift in Chinese importers away from USA wine suppliers. As US products will now be more expensive in China, the Chinese consumer will begin to search elsewhere for cheaper products. With additional measures against Chinese exports still to come, the complete impact of this trade war has yet to be seen.

We will continue to keep you informed of this situation as it develops, and, as always, please contact us with any questions or concerns.

Join WSSA at the WSWA Convention & Expo!

March 19, 2018

Caesars Palace Las Vegas

April 30 – May 3, 2018

Booth 235, Octavius Ballroom

The WSWA Convention and Exposition will host the world’s largest gathering of suppliers and distributors in the U.S. wine and spirit marketplace. The event will offer an incredible opportunity for those who are looking to grow and improve their brand, gain essential industry insight, network, and learn about innovative and exciting beverage products.

Looking for a more effective shipping solution for your cargo or better insurance coverage? Then stop by booth 235 in the Octavius ballroom and learn how WSSA can improve the transportation of your cargo with our all-risk insurance coverage and our wide network of industry experts!

To schedule an appointment or learn more about the WSSA advantage, please send us an email!

TTB Frequently Asked Questions

February 15, 2018

TTB Creates Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Page to Answer Questions Surrounding the New Tax Bill

Almost two months into the new year, uncertainty surrounding the implementation of the provisions in the new tax bill still permeates the industry. While WSSA is working closely with our resources from TTB, CBP, legal counsel and other associations, we must wait for the final information from the US Government as to the practical application of the changes. We recommend that any of you affected by the changes develop a strategy to keep track of the items that will be eligible for credits or refunds. TTB is accepting questions online and updating their FAQ page on a daily basis, and we are providing the link below for your reference. Visitors to the page can sign up for updates and even submit their own question to be answered.

Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Page

We hope this is another resource that will be of assistance to all of you, but please feel free to contact us should you have any specific questions or concerns.  As always, we will work to keep you abreast and informed about this topic.

New Tax Bill: Understanding the Changes in the Alcohol Industry

January 9, 2018

The beer industry, and especially craft beer brewers and importers, are rejoicing at the pass of the tax reform bill on Wednesday, December 20th, 2017. With the enactment of this bill, brewers and importers who produce less than 60,000 barrels of beer a year will see their excise tax rate fall from $7 a barrel to $3.50 a barrel. This is great news for the industry as the Brewer’s Association estimates that 97% of breweries in the country generate less than 60,000 barrels. Larger breweries, those who produce between 60,000 and 2 million barrels a year, will pay $3.50 for their first 60,000 barrels, then $16 for any barrels over that number – a savings of $2 per barrel, as the previous rate was $18.

This measure in the bill will benefit all breweries and craft beer importers, but will especially allow for smaller craft breweries to use the savings to invest and grow their businesses. A national trade organization for the beer industry, the Brewer’s Institute, estimates that the savings produced from this tax reform could generate up to 320 million dollars of annual economic growth within the beer industry.

The beer industry is not the only one to benefit from this bill. Wine and spirits producers and importers are also celebrating the recent enactment. Wineries will receive a $1 credit per gallon for their first 30,000 gallons made, $0.90 for the next 100,000, and $0.535 for the next 620,000. Wineries making more than 750,000 gallons will pay the full tax rate on everything over that amount. Additionally, in the bill there is a provision to increase the alcohol level at which a wine can be taxed as table wine – $1.07 per gallon. Currently, wines exceeding 14% ABV are taxed at $1.57 per gallon. The beverage act would increase that threshold to 16%, making higher alcohol wines taxable at the $1.07 tax rate. The provision also allows for certain lower alcohol wines (below 8.5% ABV) to have increased carbonation. Both of these provisions apply to domestically produced and imported wines.

For distilled spirits, the tax rate will drop from $13.50 to $2.70 for the first 100,000 proof gallons produced or imported. For all proof gallons above 100,000 but less than 22,130,000, the tax rate will become $13.34, and for amounts greater than 22,130,000, the tax rate will be $13.50. Both of these reductions will allow for wineries and distilleries to re-invest in their businesses and stimulate production and job growth within their regions.

While alcohol producers and importers are excited about this change, they also know that it may be short lived. The measure in the bill will expire after two years, and may be eligible for extension. For now, those in the industry plan to buckle down and take advantage of this savings opportunity.

For qualifying importers, CBP/Customs and Border Protection and brokerage software providers will work through the needed adjustments, and the expectation is that any tax payments made at pre-tax bill rates would be reclassified retroactively and refunds will be processed. Likewise, for our clients, we will work with you to streamline the changes in recordkeeping that this tax form brings, and we will keep you informed of any updates regarding the bill in the future. As of now, CBP (Customs and Border Protection) has not received any new protocols for handling collection of taxes, nor has the system been updated to accommodate the changes. We also have many questions in regards to the eligibility by producer, assignment of importer, and other items that we are investigating. We are gathering questions from our members and working on a list of FAQs to post to our website.  Please send us any question or concerns you may have and we will add them to the list.

For a more in-depth summary of the bill, please visit the attached committee report and navigate the pages 519-531.

Notice to USA Importers

December 8, 2017

U.S. Customs and Border Protection to Increase
Merchandise Processing Fee

The Merchandise Processing Fee (better known by the acronym MPF) is a user fee collected by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to cover fees associated with the process of importing merchandise into the U.S. and to monitor customs and trade compliance.  It has been in place since 1986, and the last increase was in October 2011. The MPF is an ad valorem (according to value) charge of 0.3464% of the entered value and this rate is not changing.  What is changing is the minimum and maximum amounts charged.  The majority of wine and spirits imports fall into the “formal” entry category and the minimum is going up from $25.00 to $25.67 and the maximum charge is going up from $485.00 to $497.99.

To give you an example of the MPF charge, a shipment with a transaction value (purchased price) of $50,000.00 would incur an MPF of $173.20 and is not subject to any change from the current assessment as it is above the minimum fee and below the maximum.  Please let us know if you have any questions on this upcoming change. The implementation date of the change is January 1, 2018. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.

WSSA's Fall/Winter Newsletter 2017

November 30, 2017

Fall/Winter 2017 Issue of Grapevine 
is Now Available!
Volume 7, Issue 2 of the WSSA Grapevine is now available!

Our Fall/Winter 2017 issue features the latest news on the changing face of the ocean carrier world, a look at the future of the industry with Trump, along with some cargo loss prevention tips and a glimpse at how WSSA celebrated our 40th anniversary throughout the year!
Click here for instant access to WSSA’s Fall/Winter 2017 edition of Grapevine!

Come Visit WSSA at WBWE!

November 7, 2017

Join WSSA at the 9th Annual World Bulk Wine Exhibition
November 20-21, 2017
Amsterdam RAI Amtrium & Hall 5

It’s that time of year! WSSA and our freight forwarding partner, Albatrans, will be at booth B23 at the 9th World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) at Amsterdam’s RAI exhibition center on November 20-21, 2017. With almost all exhibit space booked, WBWE expects over 220 exhibitors from over 66 different countries around the world including Germany, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, USA, France, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and many more! The fair brings together virtually all of the bulk wine producing and exporting countries and is expected to host over 6,000 visitors. WSSA and Albatrans continue to handle an increasing volume of flexis and isotanks and we look forward to seeing many of our current and new shippers at this event.

Please let us know if you will be attending WBWE, and if you are interested in setting up an appointment with our global logistics team. Also, be sure to stop by our booth to learn more about what we can offer you for transportation and insurance of your bulk shipments to and from anywhere in the world. We look forward to seeing you in Amsterdam!

Visit their website for more information on the 9th World Bulk Wine Expedition

Hurricane Ophelia Hits Ireland

October 16, 2017

Hurricane Ophelia is sweeping in across Ireland on Monday and is expected to cause severe damage as the worst storm the country has seen in more than 50 years.

360,000 homes and businesses are already without power, and members of the public have been advised to stay indoors and off the road. 150 flights out of Ireland’s Dublin and Shannon airports have already been cancelled as well. The Government’s crisis management committee, the National Emergency Co-ordination Group, met this morning and warned against all unnecessary travel while the storm is passing. Interocean Agencies Dublin offices plan to close at lunchtime today. 

With winds off of Ireland’s south coast reaching 100mph, and the worst of the storm expecting to hit Dublin around 1:00pm today, ports and transport will also shut down across the country, waiting to resume until the storm has passed.

We will continue to track and monitor Hurricane Ophelia and any effects it may have on all ports in Ireland. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have regarding specific containers/shipments.

Wildfires Threaten Vineyards in Wine Country

October 10, 2017

Today, our thoughts are with our colleagues and friends in Northern California where at least 15 wildfires raged through Napa and Sonoma counties on Tuesday, burning close to 100,000 acres already and destroying 1,500 buildings in the states famed wine country.

While damage is still being assessed, these fires are expected to have a devastating effect to the wine and tourism industry. Especially as California produces 85% of US wines and is also a multi-billion dollar industry.

The wildfires have already claimed hotels such as Hilton Sonoma Wine Country and Fountaingrove Inn.  Along with hotels, Signorello Estates and William Hill Estate Winery appear to have been destroyed. While the wildfires are still trying to be contained, they continue to close in on a number of major wineries along Highway 12 between Sonoma and Santa Rosa, including Chateau St. Jean, Kenwood, Kunde and B.R. Cohn.

Consumers nationwide can expect to feel the effects of these fires for years to come due to the timing of the fires coming during prime grape harvest season. With a number of vineyards either being burned or destroyed this could potentially cause years of shortage for wine grapes. Although 75% of wine grapes were already picked prior to the wildfires, the cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes were still on the vines.

Firefighters are hoping for some relief on Tuesday from the strong winds so they can continue to regulate and sustain the spread of the wildfires and prevent further damage to Northern California.

Going to be in the New Jersey Area? 

September 28, 2017

17th Annual Port Industry Day: Navigating a Changing Industry
Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Liberty House in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey 07305

Join us Monday, October 2nd at the 17th Annual Port Industry Day hosted by the Port of NY/NJ.  WSSA’s very own Managing Director, Alison Leavitt, will be speaking on a panel titled “Strengthening the Supply Chain.”

She will be joined by Mike Wilson, Senior VP of Hamburg Sud NA, Stephen Keppler, Senior VP Intermodal Association of North America, Chris Speak, President & CEO of the American Trucking Association, and Siva Narayanan, Director, International Ops & Warehousing Solvay P&SCE-North America.   The Honorable Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation is the invited keynote speaker. The conference will also focus on “Improving Port Operations” and “Rising to New Heights.”

WSSA prides itself in continuing to be active in working with all participants in the supply chain to forward the interests of our members.  The Port Industry Day is a great arena to further this initiative, along with giving potential members the opportunity to meet with Alison to learn more about the WSSA Advantage. Please see below for more details regarding this event. With over 400 top decision-makers from every segment of maritime and transportation industry attending this is an important annual event you will not want to miss.

8:00AM – Continental Breakfast

9:00AM – Conference

12:30PM – Luncheon & Networking

Pricing: $175 – Individual; $800 – Exhibit Table

If you would like to set up an appointment to speak with us at the event or would like to know more information, email us!

West Coast Updates

August 21, 2017

ILWU Contract Extension 

It is hard to believe we are already talking about the West Coast ILWU  (International Longshoreman) contract.   The contentious labor dispute over the contract renewal in 2014, led to massive congestion and delays caused by worker slowdowns.  Negotiators eventually enabled a new contract to be signed in early 2015, but with a short validity, expiring July 1, 2019.   The contract covers 29 ports, including the major hubs of Oakland, Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Seattle and includes 20,000 longshoremen employed on the west coast.  The good news is that the ILWU has ratified a three-year contract extension with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), extending the contract until July 1, 2022.  The contract extension will raise wages, maintain health benefits, and increase pensions in the 2019-2022 period, but avoids potential conflict and disruption in 2019.

Pier Pass

Effective August 1, the Traffic Mitigation Fee (better known as PierPass)  increased in the port of Los Angeles and Long Beach by 2.3%.  The new fee is $72.09 per TEU (twenty foot equivalent unit), and $144.18 per forty foot container.  The fee is charged only on containers that are moved between 3:00 am and 6:00 pm on weekdays.   PierPass is not charged for containers moving in off peak hours (6pm to 3am on weekdays and 8am to 5pm on Saturdays).  While Pierpass has certainly diverted trucks off the roads and freeways during the busiest times of the day, many companies who do not operate 24/7 carry the burden of the additional fees for using the ports during peak hours.  Should you want any additional information or resources on PierPass, please contact WSSA and we are happy to assist.

Is Your Cargo Protected from the Summer Heat? 

June 21, 2017

It’s finally summer time and the longest day of the year! While the weather outside is hot, do you want your cargo to be as well?
Don’t take the risk, protect your cargo from heat damage. For cargo moving to inland points in the USA, utilize our trans-load program, moving goods from a dry or insulated container into a temperature controlled truck for delivery.
If you are shipping with containers that have thermal insulation, minimize your chance of heat damage with our marine insurance and Optional Temperature Coverage! With our added Optional Temperature Coverage “OTC”, our members are given the peace of mind to know their cargo is protected against temperature extremes. In addition, OTC participants save money by shipping in an insulated standard container, offering an economic solution to protect their wine and spirits from the heat during those sweltering summer months!
Want to know more information about how to protect your goods from temperature extremes? Contact us!

Plan on Attending NABCA 2017?

May 17, 2017

Join WSSA at NABCA’s 80th Annual Conference!
Booth 302
May 22nd-25th at the JW Marriott Marco Island
The National Alcohol and Beverage Control Association’s 80th annual conference is coming up and WSSA will be there! We are looking forward to visiting with our members and sharing information on the advantage of becoming a WSSA member. This is a great opportunity to speak to industry experts and gain insight on the ever changing policies of the wine and spirits market! If you plan on attending, please be sure to visit Booth 302!
If you would like to schedule an appointment with us to discuss our comprehensive all-risk marine insurance program and our exclusive membership, please email us! We hope to see you there in just two weeks!

Come Visit WSSA at the WSWA Convention & Expo!

April, 7, 2017

Booth 1315, Mediterranean Ballroom

Join us at the WSWA event, April 18-21 at Grand Lakes Orlando, Florida! The WSWA Convention and Exposition will host the world’s largest gathering of suppliers and distributors in the U.S. wine and spirit marketplace. The event will offer an incredible opportunity for those who are looking to grow and improve their brand, gain essential industry insight, network, and learn about innovative and exciting beverage products.

Need a more effective shipping solution for your cargo or better insurance coverage? Then don’t miss your chance to stop by booth 1315 and learn about how WSSA can improve the transportation of your cargo with our all-risk insurance coverage and our wide network of industry experts!

For more event information, please visit the WSWA website or email us!

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with us and learn more about the WSSA advantage, send us an email!

Winter/Spring 2017 Issue of Grapevine is Now Available!

Volume 7, Issue 1 of the WSSA Grapevine is now available! 

Our Winter/Spring 2017 issue features the latest news on the changing face of the ocean carrier world, a look at the future of the industry after the collapse of Hanjin and the 2016 presidential election, and a glimpse at what WSSA is doing to celebrate our 40th anniversary!

Click here for instant access to WSSA's Winter/Spring 2017 edition of Grapevine!

Join WSSA & Albatrans at ProWein 2017!

February 26, 2017

ProWein is the world’s leading trade fair for wine professionals. The event represents every relevant wine growing region and providers from all sectors and every quality category. The fair offers an extensive network of individuals with unparalleled knowledge and experience within the wine and spirits, food wholesale and retail, hospitality, and importing/exporting industries. Discover the latest and most influential trends within the alcohol beverage industry and grow your knowledge base by attending informational events and seminars.

ProWein offers three days of inspiration with activities such as:

Numerous tasting areas

Surprising taste experiences at the Fizzz Lounge

Sparkling classics at the Champagne Lounge

Best-practice presentation at the special show “same but different”

Special show “Packaging & Design”

Top-class discussions

Culinary events

If you are attending ProWein 2017, we would like to meet with you to discuss how you can benefit from the WSSA/Albatrans advantage! Please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

For more information, or to register, please visit the ProWein website.

Cargo Insurance Webinar - Closing the Gaps in Your Coverage

February 15, 2017

Did you know cargo insurance is unregulated and no two policies are the same? Did you also know that the incoterms you ship under dictate your insurance liability? Join us for our third annual marine insurance webinar to learn how to limit your liability and close the “gaps” that might be lurking in your coverage. We will provide an in-depth analysis of marine insurance coverage including required clauses and pitfalls – “gaps” – to look out for in the policies of your trading partners. The seminar will also provide an analysis of other supply chain exposures and simple steps you can take to effectively reduce your exposure to them.

Please join us Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at 2pm as Rick Bridges, Marine Insurance Expert and Contributor to the 2020 Incoterm Revisions, and Alison Leavitt, WSSA’s Managing Director, tackle one of the most misunderstood types of insurance and show you how you can get covered and stay covered with WSSA’s insurance offerings.

To register, please complete the following form and return to You will receive a confirmation email once your registration has been received.

40th Anniversary Memorandum

January 26, 2017

WSSA is proud to celebrate its 40th year in the industry!

We want to formally thank our members for their unwavering loyalty and support for the past 40 years. We would not be where we are today without you. 

In honor of our 40th anniversary, we will be celebrating with educational and networking events all year! Stay tuned for details and invites!

WSSA celebrates 40 years!

Attached above is our announcement memorandum. Once again, thank you and cheers to the year ahead!

WSSA is a Proud Sponsor of the 2017 Beer Industry Summit and Wine & Spirits Daily Summit

January 12, 2017

This year marks the 5th Annual Wine & Spirits Daily Summit and the 14th Annual Beer Industry Summit. Running January 29-31 at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, CA, both Summits promise to deliver extensive networking opportunities and insight on current industry happenings.

The Summits attract top executives from every facet of the industry: domestic imports, craft beer, wine suppliers, distribution, and retail, craft distilling, financial analysis, and advertising. Agendas for each Summit are below which include the list of events, topics, and presenters. This is certainly an event you do not want to miss!  

Wine Summit Agenda

Beer Summit Agenda 
We would love to meet with you in sunny San Diego at either one of the events! For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us! To register for the Summits, visit the W&SD website


October 27, 2016

WSSA and our freight forwarding partner, Albatrans, will be at stand B23 at the 8th World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) at Amsterdam’s RAI exhibition center on November 21-22, 2016. With almost all exhibit space booked, WBWE expects over 220 exhibitors from over 66 different countries around the world including Germany, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, USA, France, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and many more! The fair brings together virtually all of the bulk wine producing and exporting countries and is expected to host over 6,000 visitors. WSSA and Albatrans continue to handle an increasing volume of flexis and isotanks and we look forward to seeing many of our current and new shippers at this event.

WSSA’s own Managing Director, Alison Leavitt, will be presenting on Tuesday, November 22nd at 12:15pm. Come learn about how to protect the investment in your cargo during her presentation on risk management. Most shippers are probably unaware that cargo insurance is unregulated with no common policy, leaving cargo insufficiently protected. Alison will be discussing all the intricacies involved with protecting your wine through transit, and the benefits of the WSSA insurance program.

Please let us know if you will be attending WBWE, and if you are interested in setting up an appointment with our global logistics team. Please stop by our stand and learn more about what we can offer you for transportation and insurance of your bulk shipments to and from anywhere in the world. We look forward to seeing you in Amsterdam!

Click on the attached agenda for more information on the 8th World Bulk Wine Expedition.

Join WSSA at CONECT's 15th Annual Cargo Symposium

October 24, 2016

15th Annual NorthEast Cargo Symposium 
Presented by CONECT 
Thursday, November 10, 2016 8:00am-7:15pm 
Biltmore Hotel, Providence, RI 

WSSA’s Managing Director Alison Leavitt will be presenting at CONECT’s 15th Annual Northeast Cargo Symposium. Join Alison as she moderates the panel on “Emerging Technologies in Logistics” featuring the founder of eProvenance, a company committed to using technology to monitor temperature, humidity, and location along a wine’s journey from producer to consumer, along with other cutting edge logistics technology professionals. Beyond wine, the symposium includes many top level industry experts as they discuss the latest news, trends, and regulations surrounding the transportation industry. Topics to be covered include:

Post-Presidential Election Projections from D.C.
PGA Status Report: AES, CPSC, FDA, FCC, USDA, APHIS and CBP ACE Updates
Trade Policy Update: ACAS, Trusted Trader & E-Booking
Global Economic Overview from Keynote Speaker Walter Kemmsies, Managing Director and Chief Economist at Jones Lang LeSalle
Review of Shipping Alliances and Ocean Freight Markets
Emerging Technologies in Logistics
Reports on SOLAS/VGM, PierPass, and Other Hot Topics

To view the full conference agenda, please click here.

It is not too late to register! Sign up today for an information-packed industry event you do not want to miss!

Is Your Final Mile Protected?

August 31, 2016

How do you know your cargo is protected on the most crucial portion of its journey? WSSA offers foreign and domestic inland insurance coverage to make sure your risk is minimized. For members who import on terms such as DAP (Delivered at Place) and CIF (Cost, Insurance & Freight to named port of destination), it’s important to understand that it is your obligation to insure for the inland move once the goods reach the named terminal or place. Considering that most damage and almost all theft occurs on the domestic legs of an international move, covering that leg of the journey is vital. That’s why WSSA offers Domestic Transit Cargo Insurance for this final leg of transit. Domestic transit coverage is available to members at a nominal cost. Contact us for more info or to start protecting your cargo today!

Tip: Incoterms are Tricky!

Neither buyer or seller is REQUIRED to insure under DAP terms but the implication is that the seller insure up until the named place of delivery and then from there the buyer’s insurance picks up. As with all IncoTerms, don’t let the term dictate the insurance, spell it out separately in your agreement with the seller!

Protect Your Cargo From the Summer Heat!

August 2, 2016

It’s hot out! Remember to protect your cargo from the summer temperatures! 

For cargo moving to inland points in the USA, utilize our transload program, moving goods from a dry or insulated container into a temperature controlled truck for delivery.

Alternatively, if you are shipping with containers with thermal insulation, mitigate your risk of loss due to heat damage with insurance, utilizing WSSA’s optional temperature coverage! WSSA offers an economic solution to protect your wine from heat damage during the summer months. Optional Temperature Coverage “OTC” gives members the peace of mind to know you are protected against temperature extremes while saving money by shipping in an insulated standard container.

BREXIT Vote Shocks the World!

What does the UK’s exit from the EU mean for the beverage business?   First of all, don’t panic!  The negotiations for the change will take considerable time, with predictions in the 2-3 year range.   There are also many variables that will be discussed in the process, and one possibility is that the UK could remain in a duty free zone with the EU.  Below see the article published in The Drinks Business earlier today.

Drinks Trade Reacts To UK’s Decision To Leave EU

the drinks business

By Lauren Eads

June 24, 2016

As the UK wakes up to the news that it will be leaving the European Union, the drinks trade has reacted with calm determination, despite many key figures having publicly thrown their support behind the remain campaign.

The leave campaign clinched the vote by 51.9% to remain 48.1%, prompting the swift resignation of David Cameron as Prime Minster and causing the value of the pound to plummet.

Yesterday, prior to the vote, Majestic boss Rowan Gormley warned that exiting the EU could cause the price of wine, along with all imported goods into the UK, to increase.

“If a Brexit does happen and that results in the sustained fall in value of the pound, all imported products will have to go up in cost over time and wine will be no exception to that,” Gormley said. While all UK retailers are likely to be effected equally, putting all on a level playing field, Gormley said higher prices would not help the market to grow.

Price of wine “likely” to rise

Jay Wright, CEO of Virgin Wines, has also predicted that the price of wine is “likely” to rise, stating this morning that the “EU won’t feel as strong without the UK”.

Both the WSTA and Scotch Whisky Association had also campaigned in support of remaining inside the European Union. Following a survey of the WSTA’s 300 members, 90% said they wanted to remain in the EU, with just 2% backing ‘Brexit’ and 8%, at that time, undecided.

The Scotch Whisky Association’ (SWA) David Frost meanwhile said that leaving the EU could put the industry’s £1 billion pounds worth of exports and the 40,000 jobs that it supports at risk, stating that British producers were likely to face bureaucratic barriers when trading with Europe if they left the union.

This morning, Frost reacted with determination stating that there were now “serious issues to resolve” but that “all must now get behind the government as it faces the challenges, and the opportunities, this decision brings”.

Similarly, Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, had raised concerns about a Brexit prior to this morning’s result, previously stating that it could stunt the growth of the UK’s burgeoning gin industry.

This morning Beale said the WSTA would do “everything it can to ensure that the UK’s wine and spirit industry has a powerful voice”, within the European and international market.

Pound at same level now as in March

Within the world of fine wine, a spike in investment was seen overnight, according to Justin Gibbs, co-director at Liv-ex.

“Overnight, when the pound got slaughtered, we saw a surge in dollar and euro based buyers”, he told the drinks business, adding: “this morning a rather lovely calm has emerged. It feels like business as usual”.

He also said that the bid to offer ratio on Liv-ex had been declining in the run up to the referendum dipping below 1, but that this morning, on the back of the night’s trade, it had climbed back up to 1.5 and was still going.

In terms of currency Gibbs made the point that the pound was now at the same level as it was in March.

“It feels dramatic, but merchants, traders and everyone has been through currency volatility before and they get on with it”, said Gibbs. “The concern now is what happens to the Euro”.

Diageo, the world’s largest maker of Scotch whisky, had also expressed support for the European Union with its chief executive, Ivan Menezes, stating his belief that the “EU’s clout in international trade helps to open up new markets with agreements favourable to the UK, reducing tariffs and resolving trade disputes”.

One of the few figures within the trade to publicly back the leave campaign was Tim Martin, the founder of UK pub chain Wetherspoon, who this morning said the decision would “enhance freedom and security” and that anxiety over the economic effects of independence during the campaign had been “misplaced”.

“The UK will thrive as an independent country, making its own laws, and we will work with our good friends and neighbours in Europe and elsewhere to ensure a positive outcome for all parties”, he said.

As the UK grapples to make sense of the historic upheaval such a leave vote is likely to bring, the drinks trade has shared its views on the result.

Hiro Sake Expands Westward

October 13, 2014

Hiro Sake recently contracted with Alliance Beverage Distributing Company to bring its Junmai Sake and Ginjo Sake to the market in Arizona. Co-founder and chief of Hiro Sake, Carlos Arana, says Arizona is just the beginning of a rigorous effort to drive the brand into western states. Over the course of the next year, the brand will launch in Illinois, Texas, Nevada, and California. Hiro’s two products, Junmai and Junmai Gingjo retail for approximately $30 a 720 ml and $40 a 720 ml.


Special thanks to Wine Spirits Daily for providing us with this information!


Scotch Whisky Exports Slip in 2014

September 24, 2014

In the first half of 2014, Scotch Whisky saw its largest decline in exports in 15 years. According to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), exports fell 11% from January to June. The decline is being blamed on the government-induced anti-extravagance measures in China, economic slowdown in some key markets, and a stronger pound in Britain. Additionally, exports to Latvia, a hub for products going to Russia, have declined, a direct effect of Russia's crackdown on western products. 


The U.S., Germany, South Africa, Brazil, South Korea, and Mexico—all major markets—saw double-digit shipment declines, as did China and Singapore. However, many key markets enjoyed growth including France, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, India, Australia, and Japan.

With projects for new distilleries underway, and a significant amount of capital investment committed in Scotland, producers hope that the long-term prospects for the spirit will improve.

David frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said, "We are confident that Scotch Whisky will continue to grow in the long-term as markets stabilize and new ones, such as emerging economies across Africa, open up. However, it is clear that in the short-run there are economic headwinds affecting exports."

Special thanks to The Drinks Business and Shanken News Daily for providing us with this information!


WSSA Member’s Rosé Experiencing Rapid Growth

September 16, 2014

WSSA member, Mulderbosch, based in South Africa and part of the Terroir Capital portfolio, is experiencing significant growth largely due to the expansion of its rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon. This year Mulderbosch is forecasting a brand volume at 60,000 cases in the U.S., with the rosé making up about half of that number.

New York, in particular, is where the rosé seems to be making a hit according to Adam Mason, winemaker for Mulderbosch. What makes Mulderbosch’s rosé so distinctive is its use of Cabernet rather than more traditional varietals like Syrah and Grenache. The rosé also has a darker color than its counterparts that make up the the majority of the U.S. rosé market.

Although the rosé is certainly on the up and up in the U.S., Mason believes that focusing on a core varietal is the key to success. To that end, Mulderbosch has recently debuted a trio of single vineyard Chenin Blancs sourced from three different sites. The trio is in extremely limited production, but Mulderbosch plans to continue their production annually if the wines increase in popularity.

Special thanks to Shanken News Daily for providing us with this information!

September 12, 2014

Since the year’s beginning, Stoli Group USA  has taken steps to revive its Stolichnaya vodka franchise in the U.S. The brand has seen a decrease in sales from 2.2 million cases in 2007 to around 1.5 million currently. Consequently, Stoli has transitioned the focus of its brand toward heritage and authenticity. Stoli Group USA president John Esposito also plans to implement a new premiumization strategy in the U.S., which will move the vodka’s price point up in the near future.

“We’ve successfully moved our price up to premium, which was one of our goals this year,” says Esposito, adding that Stoli’s retail price now sits at around $25-$29 a 1.75-liter and $19 a 750-ml. “Previously, we were $3-$5 a bottle below Absolut. So right now…we’ll continue to move it up. It’s where the brand belongs, and now that the advertising is there, we have a great opportunity to justify our pricing.”

The change in price will unfold as Stoli launches its latest marketing campaign, running under the tagline “THE Vodka.” The campaign, scheduled to run through 2015 and target significant metropolis areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and Boston, will include TV, digital, print and out-of-home components.  

Stoli’s “THE Vodka” enterprise is also primed to redirect consumer attention to the brand’s principal flavors, which include blueberry, raspberry, vanilla and orange. Consequently, the brand has slowly phased out a large portion of its previous 17 flavors.

“We’ve phased out around a half-dozen flavors, and we’re probably going to phase out a couple more,” says Esposito, citing the recently eliminated cranberry, white pomegranate and Gala apple labels, among others. “Once we get that done, we’ll look at what the future means in terms of what we do with flavors and what other kinds of innovations we bring to the party.”

Special thanks to Shanken News Daily for providing us with this information!

March Proves Strongest Month Yet for Spirits

April 25, 2011

Spirits growth spiked in March, according to NABCA data for control states.  After seeing volume and dollar sales grow in the low-single digits in January and February, spirits gained 8.4% and 9.6% in volumes and dollar sales, respectively, for the month of March.  The effect of brand mix on value growth during March was 1.2%, up from February's 0.8%.

Although it would be nice to chalk it up to increased demand, Utah and Michigan reported 5-week sales period this year against 4-week period last year, which means that comparisons were off and sales results were artificially inflated.  Montgomery County also reported 4 extra selling days in March 2011.

But if you remove the results reported by Michigan, Montgomery County and Utah, control state volumes grew 5% and dollar sales gained 6.1%, which is still notably higher than February's results.  Revised brand mix effect on value growth was 1.1%.  So March was a solid month for spirits.  What is especially reassuring is that dollar sales continue to outpace volumes, which suggests industry pricing is still improving.

Once again, Irish whiskey saw the most growth, up 23.1%, while vodka grew 11.8%.  The growth rates reported for all categories - brandy/cognac, canadian whiskey, cocktails, cordials, domestic whiskey, gin, Irish whiskey, rum, scotch, tequila, and vodka - exceeded their twelve-month trends, which suggests they are improving in the short term.

In March, wine sales grew 7.2%, up from February's 2.5% growth.

Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Spirits Growth Slows in January, but Still a Solid Month

March 7, 2011

Spirits volumes in control states grew 1.2% in January, according to NABCA data.  Yes, growth was slower than December, where volumes climbed 2.1%, but it's not surprising since January is typically a slower month for the industry.  Rolling-twelve month volumes were up 2.3% against the 2.1% growth rate reported in December.

Dollar sales were up 1.7%, while trending at 2.9% during the past twelve months.  This was also behind the December rate of 2.1%.  The effect of brand mix on value growth during January was 0.5%, down from December's 1.3%.

During January, Irish whiskey was the fastest growing category with growth of 19% reported and a twelve month trend of 19.7%. Vodka grew during the same periods at 4.1% and 5.4%. Meanwhile, Brandy/Cognac, Canadian Whiskey, and Domestic Whiskey exceeded their twelve-month trends.

January's nine-liter wine case sales grew at 2.3%, down from December's 2.6%.  Rolling-twelve month wine volumes grew 2.9%, up slightly from last month's 2.8%.

                                     Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

2010 Good for Wine: A Year in Review

March 3, 2011

2010 ended up being a good year for the US wine industry despite emerging from the biggest recession since the Great Depression.  The fact that wine was the biggest contributor of growth to the total alcohol beverage segment is reason enough to celebrate. SymphonyIRI's Doug Goodwin (vp of client insights) shared with WSD their 2010 Annual Wine Review report, which goes over price points, varietals and yes, brands.  Here are the highlights:

Dollar sales from the total alcohol beverage category grew 3.4% from 2007 to 2010, driven mainly by beer and wine, with wine driving the majority of growth (6.2%) in 2010 .  In fact, wine posted stronger growth each year since 2007, leading to a larger share of total alcohol (33.6%) by 2010.

Dollar sales of table wine grew 4.9%, while sparkling wine gained 6.4%. 

Meanwhile, imported wine dollar sales growth slowed in 2010 compared to 2009 (up 0.4%), while domestics gained (6.2%).  In 2010, there were "substantially fewer" imported table wines on the shelf (-5.5%). Domestic item counts decreased mildly as well (-1.2%).

$8+ AND BOXED WINE WIN 2010.  Table wines priced $8 and above posted the strongest gains among price segments in 2010, up 8.8% from 2009.  It accounted for 80% of category net dollar sales growth.  Wines below $8 grew 1.2%, but were responsible for 12% of net dollar gains due to their overall size.  Box wines were up a "healthy" 5.2%, contributing to 8% of net dollar growth.

Out of the $8+ category, wines priced $20 and above posted the most dollar sales growth: 18.4%.  That was followed by wines $15-$20 (10.5%).

Among the top ten brands with prices above $8, most posted healthy dollar growth, said the report.  Menage A Trois (43.4%), Bogle (18.6%), and La Crema (17.3%) showed "extremely strong rates," while Cupcake (216.9%), Alamos (133.4%), Apothic, Murphy Goode (79.5%), and Coppola Diamond Collection (12.8%) also drove growth.

Of those wines priced below $8 brands, over half posted losses.  Growth drivers included Barefoot (29.6%), Sutter Home (6.5%), Woodbridge (4.4%), and Gallo Family Vineyards (7.8%).  Driver brands outside the top 10 included Rex Goliath (45.7%), Southern Point, Liberty Creek (109.3%), David Stone, Madria (153.7%), and Tisdale (38.3%).

Within the top 10 Box brands, most posted double-digit growth, with the exception of Franzia and Turning Leaf, "whose growth rates were healthy, just in the single digits." Other non-top 10 brands leading gains included Big House, Foxhorn (294.8%), and Monthaven.

MOSCATO LEADS LOWER PRICED WINES.  Among wines with an average price below $5 a bottle, the most popular varietals by dollar sales growth included: white moscato, red blends, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.  For wine priced $5-$10, white moscato and red blends also led net gains, followed by pinot grigio, malbec, cabernet and Riesling.  And finally, the $10+ category was led by chardonnay, cabernet, pinot noir, red blends and pinot grigio.  However, malbec posted the most growth (42.7%), albeit on a smaller base.

PROSECCO TAKES SHELF SPACE.  Domestic sparkling wines grew 6.1% in 2010, while imports gained 6.9%.  French Champagne has lost one average item on store shelves, while Italian sparkling wine saw an increase of 2 items on shelves since 2007 .  Spanish sparkling also saw a "mild uptick" in the number of items since 2007.

French Champagne "got out of the red in 2010 after 2 consecutive years of losses," says the report.  It grew just 0.4% in 2010.  Meanwhile, Italian sparkling (dominated by Prosecco) grew 14% last year, and Spanish sparkling (mainly Cava) gained 7%.  In fact, Italian sparkling accounted for nearly 80% of total imported sparkling growth in 2010.

The $8-$13 segment for sparkling wine, which is "by far the largest," grew sales by 7.8%. Growth was seen across all sparkling price segments last year.

All of the top 10 sparkling brands grew in 2010, Barefoot (44.9%), Cooks (9.2%), Verdi (41%), & Mumm Napa (17.2%) stood out, which together accounted for over 45% of total brand gains.

                                  Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Spirits See Big Spike in January

February 22, 2011

January was a great month for spirits.  Yes we were against easy comparisons since January 2010 was flat, but it's still good news for a month that is usually slow.

Spirits saw a spike of 7.1% in dollar sales growth in the 4-weeks to February 5, according to Nielsen scans in food, drug, c-stores and liquor stores across the country.  That marks a big improvement from the already robust sales growth in December, up 4.5%.  Volumes climbed 5.7% in January, which was also better than December's volume growth of 3.6%.  And pricing improved too, with the average 750ml bottle taking a price increase of 15 cents, up from December's price increase of 12 cents.   So the industry is well positioned heading into 2011.

Whiskey, tequila and vodka all showed impressive growth in the period, with dollar sales, volumes and pricing improving from December and on a rolling basis.

Whiskey dollar sales grew 9.4% and volumes gained 6.4%.  The bulk of that growth came from Irish whiskey (sales up 35.6% and volumes up 34.1%), but all the whiskey sub-categories posted growth.  Pricing was up 39 cents a bottle in January overall, with bourbon prices up 20 cents, Canadian up 23 cents, Irish up 25 cents and Scotch up a whopping $1.14.  Prices were lower for both Irish and especially Scotch whiskey in January compared to December.

Vodka sales gained 8.1% and volumes grew 7.6%.  Prices were up 5 cents a bottle.

Tequila sales grew 8.1% and volumes gained 7.5% amid an average price increase of 10 cents a bottle. In December prices were down -32 cents a bottle, and volumes were only slightly higher than the January level.  So tequila wins the award for most improved pricing.

The only two spirits categories that had negative pricing in January were cognac (-$1.01 a bottle) and gin (-6 cents a bottle).  This was lower than their December prices as well.  However, cognac still managed to post impressive growth in dollar sales (11.4%) and volumes (14.9%) due to easy comparisons.  Gin grew sales 0.4% and volumes 1%.

And finally, rum dollar sales grew 3.5% and volumes gained 2.6%.  Prices were up 9 cents a bottle.  The rum category improved across the board from December.

PRICING DIPS FOR ULTRA-PREMIUMS.  In December it looked like price was improving for ultra-premium priced spirits.  However, that changed in January.  Prices were down -47 cents a bottle in January, compared to -19 cents in December.  January prices also worsened on a rolling basis: -47 cents for the 4-weeks; -29 cents for the 13-weeks; and -52 cents in the 52-weeks to Feb 5.  However, dollar sales and volumes grew 17.3% and 18.9%, respectively, which was higher than December's results.

Premium spirits: dollar sales grew 6.4% and volumes gained 6.5%.  Pricing was down -2 cents.

Mid-priced spirits: dollar sales grew 5.4% and volumes gained 5.5%.  Prices declined -2 cents.

Value spirits: 5.4% in sales and 4.2% in volume.  Prices were increased by 8 cents a bottle.

In terms of dollar sales and volume, all the price categories improved in January from December.  And aside from super-premium spirits, all the other categories improved pricing as well.

                                Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Casella Wines VS TWG: The Case of the Wallaby and the Kangaroo

January 10, 2011

Does the kangaroo featured on The Wine Group's Little Roo wine label too closely resemble the wallaby on Yellow Tail?  That's what Judge Berman of the Southern District of New York has to determine.  Casella Wines (producers of Yellow Tail) filed a lawsuit October 29, 2010, accusing The Wine Group (TWG) of trademark infringement regarding its Little Roo Australian Chardonnay, Merlot and Shiraz.

In 2001 Casella Wines began marketing Yellow Tail in the United States with a picture of a wallaby on the label.  "The Wallaby Mark depicts an Australian wallaby, which is interchangeably referred to as a kangaroo, as the two are very similar animals and are indistinguishable to most people," says the suit.  "The use of wallaby/kangaroo in profile in connection with the sale and promotion of wine, particularly Australian wine, has become an instantly recognizable hallmark of Casella's famous brand."

Fast-forward to July and August of 2010 when TWG filed applications with the TTB for the approval of labels featuring the "TWG Kangaroo Profile mark" for Little Roo's Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Cocannon Vineyard and Franzia Winery are listed as applicants.  TWG began selling the brands around the same time.

According to the complaint, Little Roo is available in New York, Colorado and Connecticut.  TWG "is selling or intends to soon commence selling" in Publix stores in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina.  It is also allegedly available "throughout the country in Safeway supermarket stores," including its subsidiaries such as Vons, Randalls, Dominick's and Tom Thumb.

Casella alleges that TWG's kangaroo mark "consists of a nearly identical kangaroo to Casella's famous Wallaby Mark."  For example, it claims TWG's mark "depicts" a kangaroo "in profile" that is "oriented the same direction as Casella's famous Wallaby Mark, with the kangaroo's body facing toward the left."  The suit says that both marks depict a wallaby or kangaroo "leaping."  Other "strikingly similar" features include: "the width and shape of the tail, as well as the kangaroo's body shape, structure and size."

The plaintiff also claims Little Roo's "trade dress design mimics many other elements of Casella's Merlot Trade Dress" for Yellow Tail.  According to the complaint, Little Roo has a "similar red, yellow and black color scheme; (ii) identical placement and size of the Wallaby Mark; (iii) black coloring on the neck of the bottle," and other similarities.

"In fact, in light of its apparent frequent discounting, consumers are likely to believe that the KWG Kangaroo Profile Little Roo Australian wine is a rock bottom, cheap version of Casella's Wallaby Mark brand wine," says the complaint.

In its response, TWG denies most of Casella's allegations.  For example, they argue that a kangaroo and a wallaby are not interchangeable as Casella claims in its lawsuit. "TWG denies that the Australian wallaby is interchangeably referred to as a kangaroo, that these animals are very similar, and that they are indistinguishable to most people," TWG said in its response.

Also, TWG denies Casella's allegation that "TWG has invested and engaged in no advertising or marketing for its Little Roo line" bearing the mark in question.  But it agreed to Casella's claims that Little Roo "is not listed, referenced, offered or discussed on TWG's websites," and that its wine label "is devoid of any reference to TWG."

Casella is seeking damages and the discontinuation of the TWG Kangaroo Profile Mark.

                                  Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Super-Premium Wines Making a Comeback

January 7, 2011

With sales growth of 5.1% and volume growth of 4.7%, we'd say that wine had a strong November.  In all, pricing was up 2 cents a bottle in the 4-weeks to December 11, according to Nielsen scan data.  The growth came from domestic wines and super-premiums ($20 and above).  Imports as a whole were lagging, particularly wines from Australia and France, but Argentina and New Zealand continued to post impressive numbers.  Here's a rundown:

-Domestics gained 1 share point in dollar sales, while posting growth of 6.6%.  Volumes grew 5.6%.  Pricing was up 6 cents a bottle.

-Imports lagged domestics, but still showed growth.  Dollar sales grew 1.4% and volumes grew 2%.  Prices were dropped by 4 cents a bottle.

-The weakest links for imported wine were Australia, France, Portugal and South Africa.

-Australian dollar sales fell -5% and lost -0.8 share points.  Volumes declined -2.8%.  Prices dropped 14 cents per bottle, which was pretty much in line with other imports.

-French wine dollar sales dropped -6.5% and volumes declined -7.4%.  You know what that means: they are sticking to price.  Prices were increased 10 cents a bottle.

-Italian and German wines did well, with dollar sales growing 3.3% and 3.5%, respectively.  Volumes grew 4.9% and 5.3%.  Prices for Italian wines dropped -13 cents a bottle, while the Germans dropped prices by -15 cents.

-The shining light for imports comes from Argentina and then New Zealand.  Dollar sales of Argentinean wine grew 23.3% and volumes increased 19.8%.  And they managed to post that growth amid a 23-cent price increase.  New Zealand wines grew 26.7% in sales and 35.7% in volumes.  But they also took the biggest discount, with price down -79 cents a bottle, as New Zealand producers struggle with an ongoing grape glut.

-Perhaps the best news was that super-premium wines ($20 and above) posted the most growth in the period.  Dollar sales grew 14.7% and took half a share point.  Volumes grew 13.6%.  And yes, the category took pricing of 26 cents a bottle.  That $20+ wines were able to post that much growth amid a price increase is a good sign for premiumization.

-Wines $9-$12 were also solid, with sales growth of 9.2% and volume growth of 10.5%.  The category took 0.8 dollar share points and 0.7 volume share points.  Prices were down -12 cents a bottle.

-Wines $15-$20 were next, with sales up 8.5% and volumes gaining 9.9%.  Prices declined -21 cents a bottle.

-Despite the cold weather, white wine (sales up 6.2% and volumes up 7.1%) had a better month than red wine (5.5% and 5%).  But white wine dropped prices -5 cents a bottle, while red wine raised prices 4 cents.

-The strongest varietals were Gamay (amid a -1.14 price decrease), Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Grigio.  Pinot Noir dropped prices by -45 cents a bottle, while Riesling dropped prices -25 cents and Pinot Grigio discounted -26 cents.  Sauvignon Blanc took an 8-cent increase and Cabernet raised prices by 10 cents.

                                Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Remy Receiving "Much Interest" in Champagne Unit, says Chief

November 30, 2010

Dear Client:

Since announcing plans to sell its champagne unit earlier this month, Remy Cointreau execs have remained understandably tight lipped.  This has led to a lot of speculation about which companies could possibly make a bid (Bacardi, Pernod Ricard, Diageo and private equity firms have been named), how much the unit would sell for (Credit Suisse estimates $580 million) and when the deal could take place.

Today Remy Cointreau chief Jean-Marie Laborde told reporters their announcement has generated a lot of interest and that they expect to receive the non-binding offers by the end of December.  "We have much interest for the champagnes and are waiting for the non-binding offers by the end of December," he said, according to Dow Jones.

Jean-Marie said Remy would be willing to keep those champagne brands in its distribution network if the buyer so desires.  Also, the process could be finalized around March and may lead to future acquisitions.  What kind of acquisitions, you ask?  He would not rule out Remy Cointreau getting back into the champagne business "if one day we believe there is a champagne that fits our portfolio very well, with a level of profitability we are looking for," reports the Financial Times.

But right now Remy's champagne business overall is unprofitable, and execs instead want to focus on cognac.  Jean-Marie noted: "You must focus - we are a niche player - we cannot afford to fight Diageo and Pernod Ricard because they operate in every category of wines and spirits."

FIRST HALF RESULTS.  Remy said it experienced "good resilience" in the US and Europe in the 6 months ended September 30.

Regarding cognac, the US "noted a market recovery in the second quarter."  Remy Martin did especially well in Asia, particularly the Chinese market.

Meanwhile, Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck benefitted from renewed growth of 11.7% in the 6 months on a global basis.  The company said: "It should be noted that champagne sales peak in the third quarter."

Remy's partner brands grew 10% overall, which can mainly be attributed "to the strong performance of the Scotch whisky brands distributed in the US."  That includes Macallan and Famous Grouse.

Remy summed up its statement by saying it "maintains its long-term value strategy, adhering to a consistent pricing policy in the individual markets, improving its product mix while, at the same time, increasing marketing investment behind its key brands."

                                   Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Nielsen: Spirits Volumes Grow on Discounts

November 29, 2010

Dear Client:

The good news is that the spirits category is growing volumes.  But they are doing so at the expense of pricing, according to recent scan data from Nielsen in the 4-weeks to November 13.  Volumes grew 3.5% against a relatively easy comparison of 0.4%, while price/mix declined -0.5%.

In a note to clients, Credit Suisse's Anthony Bucalo said this is an indication "that there are no visible signs of pricing strength as of yet for the US spirits category."  He also expects "similar results" over Thanksgiving weekend.  Yes, promotions are always more prevalent this time of year, but the hope is that discounting will be better than last year.

Each company has its own holiday strategy.  Diageo, for example, is staying true to its plan to cut back on promotions.  Pricing was up 2.3% in the 4-weeks, but that took a toll on market share, says Anthony, "as volumes widely trailed the market," down -2.3%.  Captain Morgan posted volume growth of 0.9%, but all the other major brands "remained in decline as Diageo tried to gain pricing on these brands."  Johnnie Walker Black pricing was up 3.5% but volumes declined -8.5%.  Smirnoff pricing grew 0.8%, while volumes slid -0.3%.

Pernod's results were "dull but steady," with volumes up 0.7% and flat price/mix.  As a whole, the company is losing some volume market share but gaining "slightly" on value.  Absolut volumes grew 4.3% on a discount of -3.2%.

Beam Global continues to lead the way in discounting while also managing to grow volume.  Volumes grew 20.7% for the company, although it slashed prices on brands like Courvoisier (-18%) and Gilbey's Vodka (-12%) in the past 12 weeks.

Remy Cointreau's volumes declined -0.3% on negative pricing of -1.3%.  But Remy's 52-week price/mix (2.3%) is "by far" the strongest of the group, while volumes fell -1.6%.

Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Holiday's Off to a Good Start for Domestic Wine

November 12, 2010

So far so good in the early part of the holiday season.  In the four weeks to October 31, wine dollar sales gained 4.7% and volumes grew 4.1%, according to IRI scans in food and drug stores.  Compare that to the four weeks to November 1, 2009, where dollar sales grew 3.7% and volumes gained only 2%.  Clearly we are doing better as a whole now than we were a year ago.
Looking just at domestics: this year dollar sales grew 6.4% and volumes gained 5.1%.  In 2009 dollar sales rose 4.7% and volumes gained 2.4%. So yes, domestic wines are looking solid.
But when we start digging into the numbers there are some areas that are a little weaker this year - specifically imports and wines priced $20 and above.  Dollar sales of imports declined -0.8% and volumes fell -0.5% in 2010.  In 2009, sales were flat and volumes were down only -0.1%.
Compared to October of last year, growth for $20+ wines has slowed.  Dollar sales of $20+ wines in 2010 gained 10.9% and volumes grew 10.7%. In 2009, sales rose 16.8% and volumes grew 21%.  But that could be due to a 4-cent price increase per 750ml bottle in 2010.
$15-$20 WINES PREVAIL. In October 2010, the strongest table wine price categories were as follows: $20+ wines; $15-$20 (sales 10.1% and volumes 13.1%); $11-$15 (5.8% and 7.2%); $8-$11 (9% and 12.9%); and $3.50-$5 (6.4% and 6.4%).  It's worth nothing that growth in the $8-$12 category in 2010 is coming from domestic wines, while imports are declining in that price range.
Super-premium wines $15-$20 have made the biggest gains since October 2009, where they were still posting growth but not as high as this year.  But keep in mind that they also cut prices by -45 cents in the 4 weeks to Oct 31, 2010. 
WHITE WINE OUTPACES RED. Interestingly, white wine is growing at a much faster rate than red in October 2010, according to IRI.  Dollar sales of white wine this year grew 7% and volumes gained 7.2%.  But last year sales grew 4.1% and volumes gained only 2.7%.  In October 2009 red wine and white wine were more evenly matched, while in October 2010 white wine took a clear lead.  But that doesn't mean red wine isn't growing.  Dollar sales gained 3.9% and volumes grew 3.1% in Oct 2010.
LOOKING JUST AT OCT 2010. The fasted growing varietals (in order) were red blends/Meritage, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Interestingly, Sauvignon Blanc took a big hit, with sales down -21.4% and volumes declining -21.1%.
Declining sales and volumes were felt by French (-12.6% and -12.3%), Australian (-9.3% and -8.3%), and Spanish (-2.8% and -6.3%) imports.  Meanwhile, Argentina (30.7% and 35%) and New Zealand (17.2% and 21.9%) continued to see the biggest gains.  But keep in mind they are also the two biggest discounters.  NZ dropped prices -48 cents per average 750ml bottle and
Argentina dropped prices -26 cents compared to a year ago.  Chile (9.8% and 9.5%) and Germany (4.1% and 5.1%) also posted solid results.
Meanwhile, Oregon (sales 8.9% and volumes 8.2%), California (6.2% and 5%) and Washington (6.1% and 5.1%) had a solid October, and all posted average price increases of 8 cents, 8 cents and 6 cents, respectively.
In your opinion, how is the holiday season going so far?  Let us know by sending an email to or dropping a line at our anonymous tip hotline.

Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Ordering Wine? There's an App for That

October 15, 2010 - Wine Spectator

"SmartCellar" is a downloadable application for the iPad which allows restaurants to manage their wine lists and inventory with ease.  The app allows you to customize your wine list so you can search by glass, bottle, red, white, keyword, etc.  You can even link it to your restaurant's inventory, and when your last bottle is sold, the list is automatically updated! Learn more about this awesome app by clicking the link above.

A Look at the Top Wine Brands Off-Premise

October 11, 2010

When looking at the top 20 brands in food and drug stores, it's clear that most had a solid summer.  Those brands that posted the most growth typically resorted to discounting - but not all.  And not all benefitted from discounting either.  So here's our survey of the top 20 brands in food and drug stores over the summer (12 weeks ended September 5), based on SymphonyIRI scan data.

Menage a Trois, Barefoot and Cavit Collection showed the most dollar sales and volume growth over the summer - but there's also evidence of discounting.  In fact the brands with the biggest growth tended to take the biggest discounts as well.  Here's some evidence of that: 

  • Menage a Trois took the lead with sales growth of 46.8% and volume growth of 53.6%.  They took an average price decrease of -43 cents per 750ml bottle.
  • Barefoot saw sales rise 25.2% and volumes gain 26.3%.  It took prices down by -5 cents on average.
  • Cavit Collection hails from Italy and is the only other import in the top 20 besides Yellow Tail.  It grew sales 18.7% and volumes 31.4%.  It also discounted the most by dropping prices -69 cents on average.
  • Robert Mondavi Private Selection showed solid growth of 11.7% and 19.2%, respectively, with a -60 cent average price decrease.
  • Kendall Jackson grew sales 11.5% and volumes 17.5%, and dropped prices -65 cents.
  • Sales of Clos du Bois grew 6.2% and volumes gained 10.5%.  That brand dropped prices by -42 cents on average per 750ml bottle.
  • Gallo Family Vineyards grew 10.9% in sales and 14.9% in volume, but dropped prices by -15 cents on average.
  • Chateau Ste Michelle's sales grew 11.8% and volumes gained 14.4%, while dropping prices -22 cents.
  • Woodbridge sales grew 5.8% and volumes 8.3%, while dropping prices -14 cents on average.

Discounting didn't work for everyone, however.  Yellow Tail saw dollar sales drop -0.6% and volumes gain 2% amid a -16 cent price discount.  Beringer grew sales only 1.9% and volumes 5.3% but dropped prices by -18 cents.  Fetzer dropped prices -4 cents but sales declined -12.2% and volumes fell -11.7%.

But there were also brands that took pricing and still did well.  Sutter Home raised prices by 10 cents, and grew dollar sales by 6.7% and volumes by 4.6%.  Franzia took pricing just slightly by 1 cent, and grew sales 4.2% and volumes 3.9%.

There were also top 20 brands that apparently didn't see the benefit of raising prices.  Carlos Rossi took pricing up 8 cents on average but saw sales decline -3.4% and volumes fall -6.6%.  Livingston raised prices 2 cents, but sales fell -3% and volumes declined -3.6%.  Meanwhile, Sterling Vintners raised prices by 3 cents, but sales declined -6.8% and volumes fell -7%.  Sales of Peter Vella Box Wine declined -1.1% and volumes declined -2.8%, with an average price increase of 3 cents.  And finally, Vendange's sales declined -2.3% and volumes dropped -2.7% amid a 1 cent price increase.

Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Moderate Drinkers May Toast Research Finding They Live Longer

August 31, 2010

There's no need to feel guilty for having one to three drinks a day.  In fact, it might as well be recommended!  Researchers from both the University of Texas and Stanford University have found that people who drink moderately are less likely to die than those who drink in excess or none at all.  The study was over a twenty year period, with ages ranging from 55 to 65.

Heat wave adds to harvest's weather woes

August 25, 2010

From moist, cool days to harsh, blistering ones, this year's vintage can't seem to keep up with the summer weather.  Vineyards all across Sonoma County have seen everything from bunch rot to sun damage.  This has been one of the most stressful seasons for growers.

Cork, Plastic, or Screwtop? The Cork Industry Tightens the Screws on the Wine Industry

July 21, 2010

Many wineries have made the transition from cork stoppers to plastic bottles and aluminum caps.  What impact does this have on cork trees and those who harvest and make a living off of them? The following article informs you about the newest way to seal wine bottles and what affect this will have on the industry.

The Tale of Yellow Tail Brand

July 21, 2010

There’s no doubt that Yellow Tail has become the dominating Australian wine brand in the world since it was first introduced by Casella Wines in 2001.  Who wouldn’t want to relax and enjoy and a satisfyingly tasting product that comes with an affordable price and a cute wallaby?  The following article dives into the success of the Yellow Tail brand with question and answers with John Casella, the managing director of Casella Wines.

Alcohol — the good side

July 21, 2010

Experts have reported affirmations that controlled amounts of consumed alcohol can help result in long life and slow cognitive decline.  The United States releases a Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years, which include alcohol consumption.  The following article describes the benefits of alcohol consumption, as well as the US guidelines regarding this issue over the past ten years.

Will 2008 vintage show legacy of fires?

July 20, 2010

The numerous wildfires in California in 2008 caused smoke to surge for miles over thousands of acres.  Did this cause a defect to the then-ripening grapes?  The following article gives some insight on this event from owners of wineries in the areas affected by the fires.

Cheap Wines Drink Up in Recession

July 15, 2010

Even though the economy is suffering from the hardships of the recession, wine sales are not.  “In-home entertaining” has become very common during this period of instability, causing many to purchase cheaper bottles of wine to accommodate.  People are not embarrassed to bring inexpensive bottles to parties because many of them are good quality wines.

We also do wine: fun-loving South Africans see exports jump

July 14, 2010

South Africa’s wine industry has seen a drastic sales increase with the help of the World Cup.  The media coverage from the World Cup has helped people become more aware of what South Africa is all about.  Su Birch, Chief executive of Wine of South Africa, sheds some light on this “welcome boost”.

Wine Vending Machines

July 12, 2010

The Pennsylvania liquor board tested an interesting idea…wine vending machines in local supermarkets.  Customers were thrilled at the idea of having the kiosks in the grocery stores and called it “convenient, one-stop shopping”.  In PA, consumers can buy alcohol only from state-owned stores, which makes this technology very conducive.

Domestic Wine Sales Up 6.8% in April

May 17, 2010

The Symphony IRI Group has reported that there has been an increase in domestic table wine sales (all prices) since 2009.  This data is encouraging to producers of high-end wines who have been working to recover from the recession.  The figures quoted in this article are very promising to the industry.