With President Trump’s trade tariff tactics becoming a reality for Oregon wineries – increasing the cost to buy things like bottles and cardboard boxes as much as 25% – businesses are having to think about soaking up the cost themselves, or passing it on to the consumer.
Rex Hill Winery in Newberg buys 350,000 cases, with 12 bottles in each case, every year, and the president of Rex Hill and A to Z Wineworks doesn’t want wine-tasting tourists to have to pay the price.
“Our motto is ‘Aristocratic wines at democratic prices,'” said Amy Prosenjak, president of A to Z Wineworks.
Rex Hill wants to keep the price of their wine under USD 20 a bottle.
“They’re looking for a good value and quality. Quality should be paramount when you’re wine tasting,” Prosenjak said.” And I don’t know if they would accept a price increase on what is already a lot of money for a bottle of wine.”
Rex Hill gets glass bottles through a broker who buys around the world. And they may not have another choice.
“It’s my understanding North America does not produce enough glass for all food and beverage, anything you buy in a store in a glass jar or bottle, for what the demand is,” said Prosenjak.
But even if they could get their bottles domestically, it may not make much of a difference in the price.
Earlier this year when other tariffs were introduced, David French of National Retailers Association said: “If a competitor’s price goes up 25%, US manufacturers’ products will go up 22% to take advantage of the price increase on the imported product.”
Glass comes in at No. 3 on the most expensive list of stuff to pay for to run a winery, behind the fruit, and the people who pick the fruit.
Prosenjak says under the current administration, finding and keeping a steady labour force is an even bigger challenge than paying for bottles.
But the latest statistics show people are drinking more wine than ever.
Time will tell if a tariff can change that.