Donald Trump

Trade Tariffs Costing Local Wine Industry

The impact of tariffs being imposed overseas is being felt strongly in the East Bay, especially when it comes to reds and whites.

The California wine industry could end up being one of the biggest losers if the trade skirmish between the United States and China prolongs.

Wente Vineyards in Livermore told NBC Bay Area that they have had to put a cork in all exports to China. That translates to roughly 3,000 to 5,000 cases of red and white wine just waiting to be shipped.

Importers in China don't want to pay the 15 percent tariff on that wine — a tariff China imposed on the United States in retaliation to President Donald Trump's tariffs. The 15 percent tariff sits on top of a preexisting 48 percent charge for taxes and tariffs.

Michael Parr, Wente Vineyards' vice president of international sales, said lost business to China is in no way going to put the East Bay winery out of business. What Parr is worried about is what could happen down the road.

"But an even bigger concern is the fact if we’re not shipping, our importers will be running out of stocks," he said. "If they’re running out of stocks, all of a sudden shelf space for California wines and Wente wines will be open and there are many wine-producing countries around the world that are clamoring for that shelf space that want to take that position away from California."

Wente Vineyards estimates that China will run out of its stock of Wente wine over the next month to two months, leaving the winery vulnerable to countries without tariffs such as Chile and New Zealand. Australia is also slated to become tariff-free starting next year.

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