Wine groups in California, Washington and Oregon are calling on Congress to extend the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+).
California winegrape growers were able to access WHIP+ payments last year for 2018 losses, which included damages due to smoke taint.
“We fear these wildfires, and potentially more to come, will result in the greatest economic loss due to a natural disaster ever suffered by the industry,” reads a letter from the groups to congressmembers.
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The industry worries that as the wildfires continue more buyers are rejecting grapes due to smoke exposure. Some growers are taking a leap by converting grapes to wine on their own without knowing if the added investment will pay off. Wineries, meanwhile, may not discover smoke taint until after processing, resulting in a significant loss, according to the groups.
“2020 has produced more challenges than any could have ever anticipated,” said California Association of Winegrape Growers President John Aguirre.