Politics and Wine Trade: Wine2Wine Business Forum

Wine is no stranger to politics and, since everything seems to be political these days, wine trade must be political, too. What’s different about wine politics today? Why is it important? What should wine industry professionals know and do?

Wine2Wine Business Forum 2021

These are some of the questions that I’m thinking about as I prepare my presentation, “Politics and Wine Trade,” for the upcoming Wine2Wine Business Forum 2021, which is being held in hybrid (online/in-person) form in Verona Italy on October 18-19. My presentation will be a virtual seminar on October 18 at 3:45 pm Verona time (6:45 am Seattle time).

The list of speakers and sessions is long and impressive. The emphasis on useful practical information to help guide wine businesses in these turbulent times is clear and welcome. Looks like a great conference. Wish I could be there in person, but happy to contribute virtually.

Thinking About Wine Politics

Politics is so much a part of the wine industry story that you could probably fill a book with examples and analysis. But you don’t have to do that because the book already exists: Tyler Colman’s 2008 Wine Politicswhich I admire and recommend.

Politics and wine trade take several forms that I want to discuss at Wine2Wine. Some of it is what I call inside politics — passions and interests inside the wine sector that take political form. There is also what I call outside politics, which is how wine ends up caught in the crossfire of political squabbles between and among nation-states. Inside, outside — politics is everywhere you look!

Politics Happens

Australia — the lucky country — provides a good example. The Aussies worked very hard to develop the China market for wine exports. And they succeeded — China became the #1 export market for Australian wines, larger than the UK, larger than the US, and at good prices, too.

And then, well, politics happened. The Australian government has been trying to show China that it is more than just an iron ore vending machine (see AUKUS agreement for example) and this backfired. China retaliated for inconvenient comments directed its way, imposing prohibitive tariffs on Australian wine and suddenly the #1 market disappeared. Wine gets  caught in the crossfire in political disagreements that have nothing whatsoever to do with wine.

What does the future look like? What can/should wine industry leaders do? I’ll try to have some answers to these questions by the time Wine2Wine kicks off.

3 responses

  1. Hi Mike – worth a thought around the terms – Wine Trade , Wine Industry and Wine Business . As a young enologist in France coming from California I was admonished – when I used the phrase ” Wine Industry ” .. wine not being an industrial product ? On the other side, the UK Wine and Spirits Trade was once more closely tied to trade ( guild ) bodies such as the ” The Worshipful Company of Vintners -. Perhaps having a certain gentlemanly ring about it Vintner being the term adopted by California winery owners
    Wine and Spirits happily still seem to be the lubricant which is the essential facilitator to much political lobbying !

  2. The late UK lateral thinker Edward Debono once said, ‘Bureaucracies have two speeds, crisis and complacency’ While several Australian wine producers have been hurt by Chinas’ excessive import duties, it has also been the catalyst to shift dependency on this market to actively and successfully seeking new ones. Politics can have ‘beneficial’ unintended consequences

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