Lingering Effects Of The Shutdown: Your Favorite Wine’s In Short Supply

PUBLISHED: May 19, 2019

The turn-up may be in limited supply this summer, thanks to the government shutdown.

To distribute alcohol, including rosé, labels need to be approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau through a Certificate of Label Approval. But since the bureau was closed during the 35-day shutdown, the approval process has been delayed, meaning they cannot be distributed. “We have 20 to 30 labels at the TTB that haven’t been approved yet,” vice president of Old Bridge Cellars Gavin Speight said. “It’s going to put us back a month or so on shipping.”

That means die-hard rosé fans may need to travel to France just to get their fix. Rosé and imported wines require approval. After an industry-wide survey was taken, 70 percent of respondents were waiting for label approval. It’s a pricey trip but may be worth it. The process takes a total of 36 days to complete. Labels that are backlogged could take months to get through.

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Smaller wineries will feel it the most. Costing more than $2 to bottle and label a case of wine, wineries will have to find space to store the wine if they can’t legally sell it. Bottling without approval or labels can be risky. “If you are a small winery and you have a decent-sized lot of wine and have to label it a second time, you could be out $20,000,” winemaker Adam Lee said.

Craft beers may also be affected by the delay. Without the approval of the TTB, new breweries can’t open, and existing beers can’t be shipped across state lines. “I’ve been joking with people that if you’re going to want a new beer coming out pretty soon, you’re going to have to drink your brother-in-law’s homebrew,” founder and president of Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee Russ Klisch said.

On the bright side, the shutdown only affects wines that require approval. Winemakers can change the vintage and other information on a previously approved wine label without needing Certificate of Label Approval. That means many wineries will still be able to bottle and release a majority of their wines without any delays.

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