On Tuesday the wine industry asked Congress for help to rebound from this months’ devastating wildfires. The Washington, Oregon and California farm bureaus, the Washington Winegrowers Association, the Oregon Wine Board, the Oregon Winegrowers Association, California Association of Grape Growers, California Wine Institute, Oregon Wine Board, Winegrape Growers of America, and Wine America asked Congress to extend the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) to help grape growers and winemakers affected by recent wildfires. The organizations contend that the wildfires are creating what could be the greatest natural-disaster-borne economic loss ever suffered by the wine industry in all three states.

The letter noted that Oregon, Washington and California are the leading wine-producing states in the nation. On average, 7,300 wine grape growers in all three states produce a crop valued at $4.5 billion per year.

In addition to devastating fires, the wine and grape industries must contend with smoke exposure, which means many wineries are reluctant to accept smoke-exposed grapes.

“Without a market, these grape growers are forced to abandon their fruit in the vineyard. In other instances, buyers have agreed to purchase grapes at a discount but could later face unanticipated costs to test and treat wine made from smoke-exposed fruit,” the letter stated, adding that without assistance from the federal government, “many of our members will confront unprecedented economic uncertainty.”

The letter noted little is currently known about the full impact of smoke on grapes and growers may not realize the full extent of their losses for another year or more. “We sincerely appreciate your active leadership and continued interest in assisting wine grape growers and winemakers in overcoming the devastation caused by this year’s wildfires,” the letter closed.

Click Here to read Tuesday's letter.

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