For those of us in the wine industry, the government shutdown has brought the wine approval business to a halt. Federal approval for new wineries and/or wine labels is handled by the Federal Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). For purposes of the government shutdown, the TTB has been deemed non-essential. The Federal Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is not processing COLAs, new wine application permits, label approvals, or importation of wine in bond. Approximately 800,000 of the two million U.S. federal employees have been furloughed.
The suspension of the TTB’s regulatory functions means all reviews of alcohol beverage label permits, formulas are suspended until such time funding is reinstated. This means that many Pennsylvania wineries will not be able to sell their wines until the shutdown ends and their applications can be processed. The legal documents required to bottle and sell the wine has come to a halt, hence having severe financial impact to many of the State’s wineries.
The TTB has posted an Appropriations Lapse Notice. Once government services resume, a horrendous backlog for application processing is anticipated as we are now approaching Day 14 of the shutdown.