We are pleased to say that 2016 was a successful year for FWC. We took positions on 13 bills and earned successful outcomes on 10. We were able to maintain FWC’s visibility both within the legislature, our respective stakeholder groups of alcohol and agriculture, and within the regulatory agencies.
The scope of the effort is significant. Each year the California Legislature introduces over 2,000 bills.
In addition to the legislative proposals of the 2016 session, there continues to be a number of regulatory issues impacting our membership. Family Winemakers continues to engage on issues related to water, tied house law, pesticides, Proposition 65, and many others.
For a complete accounting of this year’s ongoing regulatory issues, please contact the FWC office.
A few of the year’s most prominent issues are listed below:
AB 1066 (Gonzalez)// AB 2757 (Gonzalez)
One of the hardest fought battles this year was between Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez and the agricultural community. At the start of the session, Assemblymember Gonzalez introduced AB 2757, which proposed to change the existing agricultural overtime law from 10 hours per day to 8 hours per day. Although the bill failed on the Assembly floor in June, it was resurrected in the Senate and ultimately managed to gain passage in both houses in the form of AB 1066.
The Family and Stonebridge Research Group were awarded a $369,000 Emerging Market Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a road map on how to sell California fine wines in the Chinese market back in 2013. On September 15, 2015 the project received its second year of funding from the FAS for $430,666, for a near doubling of project activities.
The first focus for the project was the quality of importers with whom California's fine wine producers were partnering in China, as very few producers had satisfactory sales or payment experiences. There was initially a list of about 10 such importers, developed from the trade and from peer recommendations, with another 10 "up-and-coming." Most of these companies carried few if any California fine wines. However, in the last 18 months interest among quality importers has clearly grown. As the importers say, now that they are actually "selling wine to the people who actually drink it", they are finding that consumers are more adventurous and often prefer California wines when they try them. This trend is most evident in the most developed wine markets, such as Shanghai and Beijing. Even importers who have exclusively worked with top European producers are becoming interested in California and they have been coming to our classes, asking about winery contacts.
Thus, we are increasingly introducing producers to a variety of highly recommended importers with whom they have otherwise been unfamiliar and who do not tend to be the usual importer groups recommended by usual sources of export advice.
You can read more about the program here