Winegrowers, national partners ask Congress for wildlife relief

NCW - The Washington Winegrowers Association and nine other regional and

national organizations asked Congress to extend the Wildfire and

Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus

(WHIP+)<https://www.farmers.gov/recover/whip-plus> to help grape

growers and winemakers affected by recent wildfires.

 

The September letter, addressed to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, asks for immediate relief

and is signed by Washington Winegrowers Association Executive Director

Vicky Scharlau along with the Washington, Oregon and California farm

bureaus, California Association of Grape Growers, California Wine

Institute, Oregon Wine Board, Oregon Winegrowers Association,

Winegrape Growers of America, and WineAmerica.

 

Wildfires are creating what could be the greatest

natural-disaster-borne economic loss ever suffered by the wine

industry in all three states, the letter stated, noting that

California, Oregon, and Washington are the leading wine-producing

states in the nation. On average, 7,300 wine grape growers in all

three states produce a crop valued at $4.5 billion per year.

In addition to devastating fires, the wine and grape industries

contend with the damage smoke exposure may cause winegrapes. Chemical

compounds in smoke can release unpleasant ash-like flavors in wine as

it ages. Consequently, some wineries are reluctant to accept

smoke-exposed grapes.

 

"Without a market, these grape growers are forced to abandon their

fruit in the vineyard. In other instances, buyers have agreed to

purchase grapes at a discount but could later face unanticipated costs

to test and treat wine made from smoke-exposed fruit," the letter

stated, adding that without assistance from the federal government,

"many of our members will confront unprecedented economic

uncertainty."

 

The letter noted little is currently known about the full impact of

smoke on grapes and growers may not realize the full extent of their

losses for another year or more. "We sincerely appreciate your active

leadership and continued interest in assisting wine grape growers and

winemakers in overcoming the devastation caused by this year's

wildfires," the letter closed. The full letter can be read

here<https://www.wawinegrowers.org/resource/resmgr/smoke/WEST_COAST_WHIP_DISASTER_ASS.pdf>.

 

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