The Most Unique Wine Trade Org in 30 Years Arrives to Fight Tariffs

I can’t emphasize enough how rare it is to see the creation of a successful new trade association in the alcohol industry. In my 30 years working in the beverage alcohol industry, I can count the number of successful new trade coalitions on one hand. Moreover, the creation of trade organization that brings together importers, wholesalers, retailers, restaurants and producers is unheard of.

Enter the United States Wine Trade Alliance.

What’s not surprising is the unique coalition represented by the USWTA coalesced around an issue that threatens all tiers of the U.S. wine industry: Tariffs.

Because of the unique way in which the alcohol industry is regulated, few policy issues impact all sectors of the alcohol industry in a similar way. One of those public policy issues is taxes. Tariffs are essentially taxes that hit all segments of the alcohol industry. Another issue that might impact all sectors of the alcohol industry is negative health claims leveled at alcohol.

The USWTA is concerned with the recent implementation of tariffs on some EU wines and the threat that further taxes will be imposed in the future. Importers, wholesalers, retailers and restaurants all feel the impact of these tariffs. And the impact is severe and the threat of even higher tariffs remains on the table. The USWTA is dedicated to reversing the current 25% tariffs now placed on a selection of EU wines and push back against the threat of new tariffs.

The new Alliance puts it bluntly on their new website:

“The US Wine Trade Alliance (USWTA) represents all tiers of the US Wine Trade in the fight against wine tariffs. Through coalition building, direct lobbying, and grassroots efforts, the USWTA works on behalf of American importers, wholesalers, retailers, restaurants and producers, aligning all with the common goal of achieving a zero-tariff policy on wine imported to the United States.”

As is appropriate in our age of social media, the USWTA developed out of a particularly active Facebook group that was created late last year as tariffs were first implemented and greater tariffs were threatened. Some of the wine industry’s most prominent and smartest minds gravitated toward this Facebook group to discuss strategies to oppose tariffs, rally support for individual efforts to push back against tariffs and to share information. Soon it became clear that various dedicated folks were duplicating efforts and that a more formal organization was necessary to coordinate the opposition to the tariffs.

Earlier this month, after a series of meetings, the USWTA was born and a board of directors was elected to help guide the new organization and its activities.

Now, the question is what can members of the wine trade do to help along the effort begun by the USWTA?

STAY INFORMED…This is critical. 

Earlier this month the United States Trade Authority announced that no additional tariffs would be levied against European Union wines while keeping in place a 25% tariff on a selection of EU wines that is currently doing real damage to the U.S. wine industry. However, these tariffs will be revisited by the USWTA in 180 days, at which time they could be increased significantly, broadened to include a number of other EU wines or be reduced.

So, if you are a member of the wine trade and want to stay informed, do this:



Ms, MacNaughton is creating a wine trade email list that will be used to disseminate critical information about the ongoing tariff situation and to alert folks when real action is needed.


In the service of disclosure, I’ve been involved somewhat in the founding of the USWTA, but am not on the Board. However, I am a huge supporter of this new organization. Its broad support from various segments and tiers of the alcohol beverage industry is unique and a very big step forward for the industry.

Now it’s time for you to get on board. Signing up for the USWTA mailing list will take 30 seconds.

Then, go read the latest tariff update, located at the bottom of the USWTA homepage.

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