To all Members of GWP
We the board want to clarify some information about the Wine & Grape commodity commission, as there is some confusion going around about what it is.
As owners of wineries, we’ve been working towards this for 15 years, with several key players that have been working towards a common goal of support from the State.
Just a few years ago, we had 3 different “organizations” that were mainly formed to help promote wineries in the state. We then all agreed that a statewide organization is more beneficial, to unite as one entity in the state, with the intention of forming the commission, so that we can finally have some pull in the Georgia legislature.
All of this took several years because it has always been “us” the winery owners, carving out some of our precious time, to volunteer to make it better for all wineries. Finally, 2 years ago, we scraped enough money together to hire an “executive director” to focus all her time on achieving these goals we have been slowly inching towards. In these last 2 years, she did an AMAZING job, of physically going up to the GA. State capital, and making sure all the bureaucratic process was completed, to ensure that the GWP could do the first step, and get an actual law passed, to form the GA State Wine and Grape Commodity Commission. This is part of a multi-step, multi-year process.
Now for the hard part. Explaining to all wine producers in the state, that aren’t always able to attend the meeting.
Here are the big takeaways:
- The commission was just formed last year
- The commission is required by law to only spend the money in our own field, and ONLY used for Education, Research, and Marketing.
- The commission is made up of 5 winery owners, in this state, and were also founding members of GWP
- The commission is Not just bureaucratic government agents trying to take another “tax” that goes into a “General Fund”
- Right now, the only way we fund GWP, is with membership dues, and Wine Highway
- This is a way for all the wineries to finally get funding so that we can do something
- Andy Harrison is the Chairman of All the Commodity Commissions in Georgia and has a 2 hour presentation on the proven benefits, and perks to having our own Commission. They have done the research, and the “Dairy, Beef, and Cotton” folks all are in support of their own commission, and they all “Pay in”.
- The only way to move forward is to vote YES to the “Marketing Order”–(which is the “self tax”)
- The tax will be 5-20 cents per liter. (Which is 45 cents- $1.80 a case)
- Wineries commonly pass this tiny tax per bottle onto the consumer if they so desire
- This is a way for us to finally pay into a self “tax” that will 100% benefit us as wineries
- Every other major wine State in America has a Wine and Grape commodity commission, and some have used that leverage to even get a cut of ALL Excise tax from bottles of wine from outside their state, to benefit their own state wineries.
- The Commission gets “elected” every 2-3 years. Elected members must be from GWP
At the GWP meeting this week, we had a lot of questions answered about:
What will the form look like? (It hasn’t been made yet)
Who do we pay to? (The wine and Grape Commission)
Where does the money go? (Into a dedicated fund ONLY for Wine and Grape Commission)
What are we doing with the money? (Marketing, Education, and Research)
What is the budget? (If we tax at 5 cents, and we estimate 1 million liters produced in the full year, that would be $50,000)
Most of these haven’t been formally answered yet, since we must estimate a budget, because the DOR- (department of revenue) can’t even give us an exact number of liters produced. Their best “estimate” is around One million liters per year.
Some ideas we have had:
• Statewide marketing campaign, using our “Buy Georgia Wine” platform
• fund Viticulture positions at UGA
• Put up state highway signs, promoting Georgia Wine
• Use our future leverage to incentivize Grape growers in Georgia
• Help offset some of the compensation for the Director position
We as a board believe this is the best way to move forward, with the intention of creating our own new “Wine Country” right here in Georgia. We do not like being behind in the industry, and many other States have proven the efficacy of investing in themselves. This funding can be used to unify and promote a better perception of Georgia wine, and help increase everyone’s Business, with our own Statewide marketing campaign.
This is the biggest step we have ever made as an industry, in the history of Georgia Wine, and you all have an opportunity to be a part of it!
Please use this letter to tell any neighbors you know who did not attend the meeting, so their misconceptions, or questions can be answered.
We can do a Zoom this Sunday to ask any questions of the Wine Commission.
Thank you for your time,
GWP 2022 Board of Directors