LEX VINI

TTB and County of Napa Info for Businesses Affected by Wildfires

Our hearts go out to our friends and neighbors who are dealing with damage and destruction caused by the California fires.  Although there are certainly more pressing concerns, we wanted to provide some information that may prove useful in the days and weeks ahead.

TTB Information

The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) announced that it will waive late filing, payment, or deposit penalties for those impacted by the California wildfires on a case-by-case basis.  This waiver is available to  taxpayers with businesses located in, or whose records are stored in, areas declared as Major Disaster areas, which includes Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma Counties.  Please go to the TTB website for additional information:  https://www.ttb.gov/announcements/waiver-excise-tax-penalties-businesses-affected-california-wildfires.shtml

Also, in 2015, TTB issued guidance for wineries impacted by wildfires which has helpful information on (1) reporting losses at bonded premises, (2) filing claims for refund or credit of federal excise tax on wine lost in a wildfire; (3) handling untaxpaid wine damaged during a wildfire; and (4) moving wine in bond to another bonded wine facility for temporary storage.  We have been in touch with TTB, and the Bureau may be issuing an updated version of this prior guidance in response to the current wildfires.  We will be sure to let you know if so.

Napa County Agricultural Commissioner Office

For those of you in Napa County that are looking to conduct harvest or other agricultural activities in areas that have been evacuated or wherein access is restricted, please be advised that the County has established a protocol for approving requests for access to engage in such activities.  That protocol can be found through the Ag Commissioner’s website and Facebook page.  The initial protocol was issued on Saturday evening, and revised on Sunday evening, so we encourage you to revisit the Commissioner’s Facebook page for any updates.

Also, the Ag Commissioner’s notice states:  “According to CalFire officials, grapes that have been contacted by flame retardant are not safe for humans and should not be harvested.”  We asked the Ag Commissioner’s office how growers are supposed to determine that their grapes have been in contact with fire retardants.  They responded that the retardants are a very noticeable bright pink / red color, and that it should be evident even after flaking off of the grapes.

Other Resources

Finally, the Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers, and the Wine Institute have created pages with some very helpful information for wineries in wildfire affected areas. Those links are below.

If you have any questions regarding the above topics, please contact John Trinidad at jtrinidad@dpf-law.com.

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