The wine industry has lost an important voice in Washington. After 16 years in the nation's capital, Bill Nelson is leaving WineAmerica, the only trade group that represents the entire U.S. wine industry. Nelson, who has been the group's president since 2005, has fought the good fight for direct shipping, federal support for viticulture research, and other important issues that have helped the industry grow so dramatically over the past two decades.
Now, Nelson is a victim of the economic recession, as membership in WineAmerica has slipped and wineries feeling the pinch have cut back on paying their membership dues. With HR 5034 now before Congress and the well-financed wholesalers always looking for opportunities to turn back gains on direct shipping, this is an unfortunate time for the industry to downsize its champion.
Nelson looks back on his tenure in Washington in my column in today's Washington Post