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Central Coast winemakers, sellers say Trump's proposed 100% wine tariff will impact local consumers most

Posted at 6:47 PM, Jan 13, 2020

Wine drinkers could see higher prices and fewer options for European wines at local restaurants and stores.

The potential impact could result from Trump's proposal to impose 100% tariffs on all European goods like wine.

This new tariff comes after a 25% tariff that was imposed in October which many say impacted importers, distributors and producers, but local winemakers say the 100% tariffs could hurt consumers the most.

“If your an Italian restaurant and all of a sudden all of your Italian wines get twice as expensive, there's just not that many local wineries doing Italian varieties and that they are going to substitute in Syrah or Cabernet from a local winery doesn't seem to be realistic,” said Jason Haas, part owner of Tablas Creek Vineyard.

Not only will consumers be left with higher prices and fewer options, but Haas also fears local wineries will suffer if distributors lose clients.

“When distributors lose a chunk of their sales, it is not a benefit for wineries left in that portfolio,” said Haas. “What happens is that distributors get distracted and they get distracted looking for new sources of revenue. There might be minor benefits, but a lot of disruption too."

On the other hand, Aki Elsayed, the manager at Third Base Market and Spirits, liquors thinks people will buy more Central Coast as opposed to imported ones.

“It's the cost of business and I think overtime it will balance out and provide a level playing field moving forward for homegrown product and hopefully force people to consider those products over the european ones,” said Elsayed.

That being said, he expects the imported wine sold at his stores to get more expensive. just like the single malt scotch whiskey imports did with a different 25% tariff in 2019.

There is also a fear that wine employers will have to make salary and staffing cuts to offset the costs.

It's unclear if and when we could see this tariff take place, but some say as soon as February 2020.

Monday January 13 is the last day to submit your comments to the Office of the U.S Trade Representative.

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