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Federal producer tax benefits for wineries, breweries and distilleries are set to expire this year, so Congressional bills were re-introduced to make those provisions permanent.

Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wisconsin, and Mike Kelly, R-Pennsylvania, on Feb. 13 introduced H.R. 1175, which came in as the Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act in 2015. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, introduced a Senate version (S. 362) on Feb. 6. A two-year version of the provisions was rolled into the 2017 tax-reform package and took effect last year.

“This legislation has allowed wineries across America – including 4,800 in California – to reinvest in their businesses by hiring new employees, expanding facilities and purchasing new equipment,” said Bobby Koch, president and CEO of San Francisco-based industry advocacy group Wine Institute, which claims nearly 1,000 members. “However, the full potential of these benefits will not be felt until they are made permanent.”

The group notes these key tax benefits the new legislation wants to bake into law:

The excise tax credit would apply to all wineries, regardless of production size. The credit is $0.535-$1 per gallon on the first 750,000 gallons made. The total value of the full credit is $451,700 per year, based on producing the full 750,000 gallons.

And sparkling wine would qualify for the tax credit.

Taxes wine with up to 16 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) at $1.07 per gallon. Before the current credit, wines with 14-16 percent ABV were taxed at $1.57 per gallon.

Increases the carbonation allowed in certain low-alcohol wines (up to 8.5 percent ABV) taxed at the $1.07 rate to 0.64 grams of carbon dioxide per 100 milliliters from 0.392 grams.

Bill Dodd, D-Napa, whose 3rd California Senate District includes part of Napa County and all of Solano County, introduced Senate Bill 253, aimed at helping operators of the state’s over 76,000 farms and ranches include preservation of open space and wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and social benefits into business practices.

The legislator’s staff claimed conservation practices statewide declined during the drought.

“California’s agricultural and rural lands are critical to the sustainability and economic leadership of the state,” Dodd, said in the announcement Feb. 11. “This bill would help put farmers and ranchers on the leading edge of conservation while supporting their economic vitality. Ultimately, it would boost the land’s resiliency and production, allowing people and the environment to reap the benefits.”

Cropland, rangeland, pastureland and other agricultural properties would be eligible for this help to create fish and wildlife habitat through upgrades to water quality, erosion control and groundwater approaches.

The legislation is said to be backed by the Nature Conservancy and the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts.

Aimed at wine lovers who may be intimidated about cutting into aluminum wine bottle capsules as proficiently as sommeliers, Amcor Capsules introduced the EasyPeel aluminum capsule. It has an indicator that shows the person opening it where to cut to prevent tearing, overcutting or removing the whole capsule.

The capsule is said to not require changes to package design or bottling lines.

Amcor Capsules has a Napa Valley production facility.

Petaluma-based Scott Laboratories announced a North American wine industry distribution deal with Spain-based Inoxpa, maker of stainless-steel equipment for hygienic handling of fluid. Inoxpa will continue to have its Santa Rosa office for sales to industries other than wine on the continent, such as dairy.

Scott also launched The Oak Lab, which offers testing and product development for oak-infusion methods that don’t involve full barrels.

Scott also has facilities in Healdsburg and Paso Robles.

Santa Rosa-based ConeTech announced a new method for dealing with “smoke taint” in wine. The company said the process combines existing technologies such as its Spinning Cone Column and very-low-temperature vacuum distillation to segregate the delicate color and flavor wine components, reduce or remove the undesired smokiness, and recombine desired elements into salable premium wine.

Central Valley-based G3 Enterprises, which has a Healdsburg office, created a service for small- and mid-sized West Coast high-end wineries: G3 Boutique.

“While this offering is new for small and mid-sized growers of premium and super-premium grapes and small to mid-sized wineries, it is the same full-scale portfolio coupled with the attention and expertise we provide to all G3 customers. It is tailored specifically to the needs of producers of a few tons of grapes to the top 100 wineries,” said Tom Gallo, vice president of strategic business development.

Such services include half-, 2-ton and 6-ton bins for premium grapes; small trucks for hauling; compartmentalized tankers; specialized wine grape processing and bottling equipment; higher-end Boisé oak alternatives; premium Diam corks; one-way Petainer Kegs for by-the-glass sales; and small-run label printing by digital, offset, flexographic and other means.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Contact him at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.