Blue Heron Wines: "I'm Calling Pappas"

November 22, 2019
Constituent Story

Bob and Bill founded Blue Heron Wines in Newfields seven years ago. What started as a vineyard with 28 vines now has over 2,500. They made a decision early on that they weren’t going to bring in grapes or juice from other parts of the world. They said “No, we’re going to be local.”

In the winemaking industry, there are local, state, and federal regulations. At the federal level, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has jurisdiction over labelling. And in the wine business, labels are a big deal.

A wine label needs to be approved by the TTB for a bottle to be sold. One of Blue Heron’s labels was rejected several times. They repeatedly appealed until finally the issue was resolved. But one day the same label was rejected again for the same issue that they had previously been told was taken care of.

Then the government shut down. They submitted their appeal, which must be processed in 30 days or the whole process starts again - adding to their costs and significantly impacting their business. With a considerable backlog after the government reopened, the wait time was even longer.

The clock was ticking. Blue Heron’s main source of revenue at this time was from farmer’s markets, and missing the markets meant they would not receive any revenue on their product.

They called TTB and never heard back. Remember, they had been told earlier by TTB that this issue had been resolved. 

Bill and Bob kept leaving messages and getting the runaround. Because they kept not hearing back, they only had one day left to get this label appealed so they could ship their wine.

“I’m calling Pappas,” said Bob.

Congressman Pappas’s constituent services team started working fast, because Bob and Bill only had one day left to get their label appealed.

“We are a very small operation and issues like these are costly for us,” said Bob. “The liquor industry is highly regulated at the local, state and federal level - one bad move can be very costly in both time and money - something a micro-business like ours cannot afford - a few of these and it could put someone out of business quickly.”

The very next day, Bob got a call from the TTB saying that the labels were approved and the wine could be sold.

“To tell you the truth, I wasn’t expecting that fast turnaround. I was like ‘wow,’” said Bob. “This incident could have cost a lot more in time and money had we not had the assistance from the Pappas office.”

If you are a first district resident, you can contact one of Congressman Pappas’s district offices to seek assistance on any federal issue, including: visa and passport applications, veterans benefits, and questions about the IRS, Social Security, and Medicare. You can visit Pappas.house.gov to send us a message online or call us in Dover at 285-4300 or Manchester at 935-6710.