In mid-October, following a World Trade Organization ruling against the EU for illegally subsidizing Airbus, the Office of the United States Trade Representative imposed a 25% tariff on all French, German, and Spanish non-sparkling wines of 14% alcohol or less. Fortunately, at Moore Brothers there were no immediate price increases, as our warehouse was already packed full in anticipation of the busy holiday season (thank you all for making it so festive).
Even so, the 25% tariff was bad news; but it would get much worse. On December 12, the USTR upped the ante, proposing a 100% tax on all European wines, expected to take effect in mid-February. So on December 13, we began calling all of our European suppliers to ask an urgent, if crazy, question: how much wine could you prepare for us in the next three weeks?
Within 72 hours, we issued more than 60 huge purchase orders for more than 35,000 cases of wine that will be packed into 33 temperature-controlled shipping containers; all scheduled to arrive by February 1.
We have long-term, deeply personal relationships with our suppliers. And for many of them, Moore Brothers is their most important distribution relationship (thanks to you, our customers). We are a community. Which is why we are doing everything we can to continue that support (for them), and to keep prices stable (for you).
And we couldn’t be more grateful for the incredible effort made by more than 50 winegrowing families. Here’s a small taste of the herculean work they did to protect our business from potential calamity in 2020.
Jochen Ratzenberger and his family hand-packed over 6000 bottles in less than two weeks, all of which will hit the port in New Jersey in the last week of January.
Gianluca Grasso not only prepared our entire allocation of single vineyard 2016 Barolos, but convinced the Consorzio, because of the extraordinary circumstances, to allow him to ship the wines four months before the legal release date.
As soon as we called, Dominique and Dany Roger began bottling and packing the first 1200 cases of their 2019 Domaine du Carrou Sancerre (by all reports, a historic vintage). The container will arrive on February 1.
Roberto Ferraris and his son Marco have packed an entire shipping container’s worth of their beautiful Barbera d’Asti for us (including 300 cases of their single-vineyard Nobbio). The wine will hit port on January 26.
The biggest volume will come from Marjorie and Stéphane Gallet, who have prepared more than 4000 cases (!) of their Roc des Anges and Effet Papillon wines, to be picked up on Wednesday, January 8. The first container is scheduled to be loaded at 7AM, the second at 8AM, the third at 9AM, and the fourth at 2PM.
Most incredibly, our old friend, Michel Ampeau, who has been hampered by serious health problems for the last five years, called to tell us that our pending purchase order would be ready for pickup on January 20 — every one of his priceless, perfectly stored 20-30 year old Burgundies will be flown (!!) to New York on January 27.
What does all of this mean for you? Beginning in February, very modest (5-15%) price increases on some French and German wines still subject to the existing 25% tariff imposed in October (Italian wines are not affected), but there will be no dramatic price increases at Moore Brothers due to the threatened 100% tax.
We look forward to seeing you in the store, and if you have the time, to telling you more about what’s been going on behind the scenes at Moore Brothers since our December 13 call to action. As we look ahead in 2020, we remain hopeful, and thank you sincerely for your continued support of small-farm winegrowers like Jochen, Gianluca, Dominique, Roberto, Dominique, Marjorie, Stéphane, Michel, and so many more who have made this incredible coordinated effort possible.
Posted under Learn from Greg