Read what the USMCA has in store for U.S. craft beer, wine, and distilled spirits – it’s great for brewers, vintners, and distillers.

The “Alcohol Annex” to the new United States-Canada-Mexico Trade Deal that replaces NAFTA is another 2018 win for craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries following on the heels of the excise tax reductions that came out of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This trade deal not only loosens restrictions for alcohol producers, it will also help with a few ongoing disputes related to getting the United States’ craft beer, wine and distilled spirits into the hands of Canadian and Mexican drinkers – like getting California wine onto shelves in British Columbia instead of in the “store within a store” idiocy that has been the order of the day.

Posted below, for you, dear reader, is the full viewable pdf of the Alcohol Annex.

You’ll note that some of the provisions are serious curiosities. For instance:

  • Quebec has an exception to selling wine not bottled in Quebec in grocery stores, provided “alternative outlets” are provided for the sale of the “other Parties” (Mexico and the United States) wine. ¶ A7
  • The requirements by a local o regional authority that distilled spirits, wine, or craft beer be “listed” to be sold in that territory are specifically called out and mandated to be free from disguised barriers to trade, transparent in their decision making, expedient in their decision making, and afford appeal of any decisions with “prompt, fair, and objective rulings.” ¶¶ A8-9
  • The governments are free to mandate that wineries and distilleries sell only the wines and distilled spirits they produce (note the absence of craft beer and breweries). ¶ A12
  • Bourbon Whiskey and Tennessee Whiskey are US products, Canadian Whisky is Canadian, and Tequila and Mezcal are Mexican and imitators cannot be misidentified or sold. ¶¶ B1-3
  • Government specific mandatory labeling information can be made by a simple add-on sticker/label. ¶ C5
  • No government can require a date of production, use-by date, durability date, sell-by date, date of packaging or date of bottling on any wine or distilled spirits container. ¶ C16
  • Some terms (except in Canada) can’t be blocked based on agreements with other – snooty – foreign governments: chateau, classic, clos, cream, crusted, crusting, fine, late bottled vintage, noble, reserve, ruby, special reserve, solera, superior, sur lie, tawny, vintage, or vintage character. ¶ C18
  • The Finger Lakes win as ice-wine can only be called ice-wine if it is made from grapes that naturally freeze on the vine. ¶ C20

Relative to our post yesterday on “Standards of Identity” there’s a mandate that identity and quality requirements for “type, category, class, or classification of distilled spirits” should be based “solely on minimum ethyl alcohol content and raw materials, added ingredients, and production procedures used to produce a particular category, class or classification. ¶ C21


Ashley Brandt

Hi there! I’m happy you’re here. My name is Ashley Brandt and I’m an attorney in Chicago representing clients in the Food and Beverage, Advertising, Media, and Real Estate industries. A while back I kept getting calls and questions from industry professionals and attorneys looking for advice and information on a fun and unique area of law that I’m lucky enough to practice in. These calls represented a serious lack of, and need for, some answers, news, and information on the legal aspects of marketing and media. I've got this deep seeded belief that information should be readily available and that the greatest benefit from the information age is open access to knowledge... so ... this blog seemed like the best way to accomplish that. I enjoy being an attorney and it’s given me some amazing opportunities, wonderful experiences, and an appreciation and love for this work. I live in Chicago and work at an exceptional law firm, Goldstein & McClintock, with some truly brilliant people. Feel free to contact me at any time with any issues, comments, concerns… frankly, after reading this far, I hope you take the time to at least let me know what you think about the blog and how I can make it a better resource.

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