Because your membership will:
- Support efforts to enhance wine's image
- Help expand your market
- Improve your business
- Elevate your interests to a national level
- Help fight taxes and trade barriers in all 50 states
- Give you a stronger voice in the industry
Membership Will Help Expand Your Market
To help California vintners expand their national markets, our legislative representatives have worked to pass reciprocal shipping laws in 13 states, and they are actively seeking passage of additional such laws in other states across the country.
Wine Institute's International Department manages an export promotional program in over 20 countries. USDA's Market Access Program provides primary funding for this effort. Since 1986, export sales have risen from $35 million to almost $800 million in 2005.
We promote California wine around the world by:
- Maintaining trade agents in 15 countries to assist vintners with promotional efforts and to provide critical market information.
- Organizing California's participation in international wine trade shows such as VinExpo, Prowein, and the London International Wine & Spirits Fair
- Holding tasting events for the media and consumers in more than 15 countries every year.
- Conducting a high-visibility foreign visitor program each year which brings key wine buyers and media from Europe, Canada and Asia to experience our wines and winegrowing regions firsthand.
- Encouraging coverage by top wine, food and lifestyle reporters through an international media outreach effort and the coordination of visits by foreign writers
In addition, the International Department manages a web site with information about export markets and offers an annual seminar on exporting each year.
Wine Institute Overseas Representation
- Netherlands - Europe
- United Kingdom
Membership Will Improve Your Business
You'll get benefits you can use every day to save money and improve your business. The savings from these services, particularly for small wineries, often cover or exceed the cost of membership:
Free Label Approval Service: Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (TTB - formerly known as the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms [ATF] Bureau) wine label applications are meticulously reviewed in our Washington, D.C., office. Members are notified the day their labels are approved, usually within a week of submission. In addition, we assist members with requests for expedited approvals, formula approvals, and trade name searches on the TTB's database. We also act as advocates for individual members before the TTB, requesting second reviews of controversial labels and negotiating use-up approvals. Careful screening of our members' wine labels has resulted in an approval rate of more than 90 percent.
Access To Experienced Legal Advice: Legal advice is available to all members from our experienced full-time counsel, and our member publications keep you updated on changes in local, state, federal and international laws affecting your business.
Federal Express Discounts: Wine Institute has negotiated significantly discounted FedEx rates for our members, regardless of shipping volume, on standard domestic and international shipping. Discounts apply to wine shipments, letters, documents and promotional materials.
Media Guides: Members receive annually updated guides to more than 800 consumer and trade media journalists across the country who regularly write about wine.
Workshops: Our member forum series offers in-depth education on issues of interest to wine industry professionals. Presentations on wine-related topics help members expand their understanding of health and social issues, export opportunities, media relations, and state and federal legislation and regulation and other critical matters.
Industry News: We keep our members informed of major developments and events affecting the wine industry through our frequent News Briefs, and other special reports that provide background on complex issues.
VAT Refund Service: If you travel to Europe to market your wine, you can greatly reduce expenses for transportation, meals and accommodations, trade show costs and other fees by applying for Value Added Tax refunds. Under a special contract with a major VAT reclaim service, our members' refunds are processed at much lower rates than those available to individual businesses.
Library: Members have access to our wine library of 3,000 cataloged books, over 2,000 current and historical wine images as well as archived industry information, and more than 100 periodicals and newsletters also including rare collectors volumes.
Membership Elevates Your Interest to a National Level
The Wine Institute is the preeminent voice for California vintners in our nation's capital. Our Washington, D.C., office promotes and protects our members' interests by educating decision-makers in the legislative and executive branches about the industry and its value to the national economy. We enjoy close working relationships with members of Congress and the Administration, as well as officials at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB, formerly ATF), the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Departments of Treasury, Agriculture and Health and Human Services. We track industry-related legislation and proposed regulations, explain fully to lawmakers and regulators how these will affect our vintners, and help them find solutions that will help, not harm, our valued industry.
We also strive to ensure that California's vintners compete on a level playing field internationally. To this end, we work extensively with the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative on such issues as export promotion and unfair trade barriers in order to open new markets and expand existing ones abroad.
Our efforts are complemented annually by the Wine Institute's Washington Week, an opportunity for our members to come to the Capital and directly present their concerns to Federal officials.
Membership Helps Fight Taxes and Trade Barriers in All 50 States
Our full-time legislative representatives in Sacramento and six other regions of the country are a strong voice for California vintners in every state capital. These representatives advocate industry interests to state officials and regulatory agencies, educate policy makers on the harmful consequences of higher taxes, negotiate the removal of interstate trade barriers, and coordinate a network of more than 40 contract lobbyists to act on pending legislation in all 50 states. Our representatives also provide compliance, economic and legislative information to members.
The Wine Institute's Legislative and Regulatory Advocacy Program addresses issues affecting virtually every aspect of the wine industry: from bottling and labeling, to advertising and marketing, to distribution. Taxes and advertising bans often get the most attention but a single regional office may be carefully monitoring hundreds of different bills at any one time, each with the potential for significant impact on the industry. These issues include:
Restrictions and outright bans on licensed beverage advertising are periodically proposed by states and municipalities.
Affirmation laws require that producers sell to state wholesalers at an affirmed price not greater than that producer is selling to wholesalers anywhere else in the United States. These laws severely restrict the ability of vintners to use price promotions or to market competitively in individual states. Affirmation laws do not take into account differing freight rates, local taxes and the varying costs of marketing in different states (primarily due to separate regulations). In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court declared affirmation unconstitutional in the Brown-Forman Decision (Brown-Forman vs. New York State Liquor Authority) stating that it violates the Interstate Commerce Clause. However, it is still on the books in at least three states.
BOTTLE BILLS/GLASS CULLET CONTENT/RECYCLING
Solid waste disposal is fast becoming one of the dominant state and local issues. These bills impose deposits on glass wine containers or require specific percentages of recycled material in container composition which increase bottling costs.
BY-THE-DRINK-TAXES (TIPPLER TAXES)
A number of state and local governments have enacted laws and ordinances providing for an on-premise tax on alcohol. Some state governments exercise exclusive jurisdiction over the imposition of excise taxes. Counties and municipalities will often resort to the tippler tax as a means to generate local revenue.
While most states follow federal regulations for container sizes, a few impose other regulations which restrict sizes to certain standards of fill.
Some states have cash only requirements for sales between wholesalers and retailers. Other states have this requirement for transactions between producers and wholesalers as well.
DRAM SHOP LAWS
These laws hold on-premise establishments liable and subject to heavy judgments if a patron becomes intoxicated on the premises and then injures another person in a car crash. While these laws are of primary concern to on-premise vendors, some laws allow the liability to be extended to wholesalers and producers.
EXCISE TAXES/EARMARKED TAXES
All 50 states impose excise taxes on licensed beverages and the pressure to increase these taxes to balance cash-strapped state and local budgets is enormous. Some counties and metropolitan areas also impose excise taxes on top of those of the state. In addition, levying taxes on licensed beverages with funds earmarked for specific programs is becoming more popular at the state and local level.
FOOD STORE/SUPERMARKET SALES
Because wine is becoming more acknowledged as a food product among Americans, there has been a greater receptivity by a number of states to permit the sale of wine in food stores. At least 12 states currently prohibit the sale of wine in supermarkets.
Franchise laws are regulations aimed at two distinct areas of the producer/wholesaler relationship. One aspect grants a wholesaler the exclusive right to do business in a particular territory (territorial provisions). Some states have laws which combine both territorial and termination provisions, while others impose one or the other. These laws make it virtually impossible for a producer to terminate a relationship with a wholesaler who is ineffective or who engages in monopolistic tactics.
GROSS RECEIPTS TAXES
Gross receipts taxes can be levied on sales and transactions between the manufacturer and wholesaler, the wholesaler and retailer, and the retailer and consumer.
INGREDIENT LABELING LEGISLATION
A few states have proposed ingredient labeling requirements on wine containers.
A number of states and municipalities will set or increase licensing fees at levels that are out of reach of small businesses.
Some states prohibit or restrict point-of-sale merchandising, or prohibit or severely restrict the merchandising activities of wholesaler and winery sales representatives at the retail level.
Price posting regulations lock in prices between producers and wholesalers, or wholesalers and retailers for a period of 30, 60 or 90 days before the price can be changed.
PROPOSITION 65 TYPE BILLS
Named after Proposition 65 which passed in California in 1988, these bills are omnibus environmental and health regulations that set arbitrary ceiling levels for certain chemicals and impose heavy fines for violations. These kinds of bills can require on-site warning for certain chemicals (including alcohol), and include bounty-hunter provisions that can expose businesses to expensive litigation if a product is found to be in violation of the regulations.
DIRECT SHIPMENTS TO OUT-OF-STATE CONSUMERS
Reciprocal shipment agreements permit the direct shipment of wine to residents between states that have enacted reciprocity laws. These agreements provide the opportunity for consumers to purchase wines from producers that may not have distribution in their particular state. In states where reciprocity is not an option, the Wine Institute is working with legislators and officials to streamline special order procedures and amend personal importation statutes to allow direct shipments of wine on a limited basis.
RECODIFICATION OF ABC/WINE LAWS
Since the repeal of Prohibition, licensed beverage laws and regulations have been subjected to a number of changes, deletions and additions in various states. These many changes eventually require the recodification of state Alcoholic Beverage Control laws (ABC). These laws are open to changes that can potentially be damaging to the industry as they make their way through the legislative process.
RESTRICTION OF SALES OUTLETS
Some states restrict the number of licenses a locality may possess. Restrictions on the number and location of retail sales outlets have historically led to higher consumer prices.
TASTING AND SAMPLING RESTRICTIONS
Tax stamps are on-container labels that are used as a method of reporting the tax-paid status of a product. No states currently require tax stamps on wine containers, but the issue does surface periodically.
WARNING LABELS AND SIGNS
Warning labels for individual wine, beer and spirits containers are governed by federal jurisdiction. Periodically, warning signs are proposed for placement in retail stores and other public places serving alcohol.
Membership Gives You a Stronger Voice in the Industry
All of our members, regardless of size, have the opportunity to participate in the guidance of the Wine Institute and its policies.
Board Of Directors: Members are represented by 40 directors and their 40 alternates who are elected annually by written ballot for a one-year term. Half the directors are chosen from the various winegrowing regions of the state, based on the number of active members in each district. Members vote for directors in the district where their winery is locatedone winery, one vote. The other half of the board are at-large directors elected by members based on dues paidone vote per dollar.
Member Committees: Any member also can take part in guiding the Wine Institute by joining one of our member committees. Wine Institute staff rely on the input and direction provided by members through the Communications, Research and Education, and Public Policy committees. All wineries have an equal voice on these committees which set the agendas and priorities for their corresponding program areas.
It's Easy to Join
If you are a licensed winegrower, or you own or lease a bonded winery or a bonded wine cellar in California and are producing or selling wine in the state, you are eligible to become a Wine Institute member.
Associate membership is available to organizations who provide goods and/or services generally available to the wine industry. To apply for associate membership, you must be sponsored by two Wine Institute members.
For more details on how to join the Wine Institute, please call 415-512-0151 or contact us.