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 Politics, which 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!
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.