Wine industry affected by government shutdown too

Salvatore Cullari is in the business of making wine. He prides himself on making new creations. In August he decided to try his hand at a pumpkin wine for fall.

“I have never made one before. So I got all of the ingredients ready that I needed basically like pumpkin flavor, pumpkin extracts, and pumpkin spice. I kind of put together a mock sample of what I wanted to use,” said Salvatore Cullari, owner of Cullari Vineyards and Winery. “I was ready to get the formula approved and basically what happened was the government shut down. Everything was put on hold.”

Although Cullari knew about the looming shutdown he wasn’t expecting this. “I never even thought about it. When they were talking about a government shutdown, it’s one of those things you should know because it is a government agency, but it just kind of went over my head. I just didn’t even think about it,” said Cullari.

With any new wine that is not made entirely of grapes, you first have to get the ingredients, or formula, approved through the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. “You have to get the formula approved first, they have to see what’s in there. Based on the formula they will tell you the exact wording you should put on the labels. It’s a two-step process,” said Cullari.

For all new wines the label must be approved through the agency. “For example lets say I was making for the first time a Chardonnay. I would still have to get the Chardonnay label approved. I would not have to get the formula approved because it’s 100% Chardonnay, but the label still has to be approved,” said Cullari.

If the shutdown ends soon, Callari hopes to get his pumpkin wine approved by Thanksgiving. The process usually takes six weeks. So he is concerned there may be a backlog. In which case, he would shelf his plans until next year.

“When the government does come back there’s probably going to be a huge waiting list of formulas and labels that have to be approved. And I don’t know how long it’s going to take to be honest,” said Cullari.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau posted this notice on their website:

APPROPRIATIONS LAPSE NOTICE
CESSATION OF TTB OPERATIONS
WITH LIMITED ACCESS TO WWW.TTB.GOV

Due to the lapse in government funding, only web sites supporting excepted functions will be updated unless otherwise funded.  Our TTB web site, http://www.ttb.gov, will be available during this shutdown period and you will continue to be able to file electronic payments and returns for federal excise taxes and operational reports through https://www.pay.gov/paygov/.

However, there will be no access to TTB’s eGovernment applications including, but not limited to, Permits Online, Formulas Online, and COLAs online.  Other information on the web site may not be up to date, and TTB will not be able to respond to questions or comments submitted via the web site until appropriations are enacted.

TTB will suspend all non-excepted TTB operations, and no personnel will be available to respond to any inquiries, including emails, telephone calls, facsimiles, or other communications. The web site and operations will fully resume when appropriations are reenacted.  TTB has directed employees NOT to report to work and they are prohibited by federal law from volunteering their services during a lapse in appropriations.

Once funding has been restored, and the government shutdown is over, we will work to restore regular service as soon as possible.

Page last reviewed/updated: 10/01/2013