Survey: US wine industry will generate over $276 billion in economic impact this year

The American wine industry will generate more than $276 billion in domestic economic activity this year, with almost a third of the output coming from California, according to a study released Wednesday.

The report was sponsored by the WineAmerica trade group from a study conducted by John Dunham & Associates, an economic consulting firm, and released at a Washington, D.C., news conference.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, co-chair of the Congressional Wine Caucus, applauded the results of the study.

“We know how important this industry is not just to our counties and our district and our state, but nationally,” Thompson said in a phone interview with The Press Democrat. “You know $276 billion is ― in any way you account for it ― a lot of money. It’s the perfect example of a value-added economic drive. Wine is the value-added beverage.”

Thompson has been a strong advocate for the industry since he was elected to Congress in 1998.

He noted the report “demonstrates the importance of our grape-growing communities.” He added he would continue “to advocate for the wine community and ensure that our growers and wine producers have the resources.”

Thompson, who owns vineyards in Lake County, was a key author of a 2017 bill that lowered federal taxes on local wineries, breweries and distilleries. The measure later became permanently enacted into law.

The alcohol beverage industry has been the biggest donor to his reelection campaign this cycle by contributing $257,025, according to the nonpartisan research group OpenSecrets. Employees with Jackson Family Wines of Santa Rosa have been the top contributor by giving $46,469.

The survey not only focused on the direct economic effects from wine production but also included the impact from suppliers and in areas such as real estate and transportation.

It found there was $6.5 billion in direct economic activity in California for wine tourism ― which is a vital driver in the North Bay ― producing 75,831 jobs.

In California, the report found an overall economic impact of $88 billion that contributed to 513,738 jobs and $32 billion in wages.

It also said that California companies associated with the wine industry and their consumers paid $9.6 billion in taxes, with $5.6 billion going to the federal government and another $4 billion in state and local taxes.

“Wine is many things ― a farm product, liquid food, a social lubricant, a celebratory elixir, a sacramental beverage and the most civilized and civilizing of beverages,” Jim Trezise, president of WineAmerica, said in a statement.

“But it’s also the ultimate value-added product, which makes it a powerful economic engine on many levels. This study confirms that.”

Thompson said he is working to further funding for studies to prevent smoke taint in grapes, which has been a concern during recent wildfires; and touting the benefits to wineries to convert more to electric vehicles and solar power under the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act.

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