Georgia wine distributors concerned about possible tariffs

It may soon cost you more to uncork a bottle of your favorite wine or champagne.

President Donald Trump recently threatened to impose a 100% tariff on French wine in response to a new French "technology tax," impacting American web companies like Facebook.

"It's not just the people in Europe who are being hurt, it's American wine jobs that are being affected by this," explained Eric Crane, director of training at Empire Distributors in Austell.  

Crane and others in the wine industry have started a grassroots effort to oppose the possible tariff, especially after the U.S. instituted a 25% tariff on most European wines and many other products back in October.  That tariff was tied to an ongoing dispute over aircraft subsidies.  

The Office of the United States Trade Representative held a hearing on the tariffs earlier this week and those close to the issue said they will hurt the U.S. more than they will hurt Europe.  

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America estimate the new tariff could result in the loss of 17,000 jobs in the United States and $2 billion in American economic losses.   

Crane believes if consumers see a dramatic increase in the prices of their favorite wines overnight, they simply will not buy them.  That, he said, will impact the entire industry from wine shops to restaurants to warehouse workers.  

"There's a lot of people that are involved in this and taking away our means to support ourselves by increasing the prices of what we sell is definitely not good for business.  I can't stress that enough," said Crane.  

Some may argue that consumers could just switch to American products, but Crane said even with the same grapes, the products are very different and the U.S. is not necessarily positioned to deal with a sudden increase in demand.  

"If America wants to try to meet the demand of this new 'wine consumption' that's domestically-based as opposed to European-based, it takes about six years to get a grapevine really, really situated to produce wines," Crane explained.  

To submit your comments to the U.S. Trade Representative, visit by Monday, January 13.