Small Business Owner Calls Out Unintended Consequences of Trump’s Tariff Wars

Small Business Owner Calls Out Unintended Consequences of Trump’s Tariff Wars

San Diego businessman and wine entrepreneur, Greg Martellotto, recently spoke out against the tariff wars, including the proposed 100% on European wine currently under review by the Trump administration. 

Greg is concerned about the unintended consequences that are not discussed and tend to be invisible. The proposal will have dire consequences for both European and U.S. wine industries, hitting American small businesses and consumers especially hard.

“They’re trying to punish the French and Chinese for something that clearly has nothing to do with wine. And who’s paying the bill? Me!  American small businesses. No one’s talking about it, no one that I’m aware of,” says Greg. “These things don’t seem to be well thought out. It doesn’t make sense.”

tariff war actions and escalations

Recent Tariff War Actions and Escalations

  • 5/10/2019: U.S. increased tariff rates on $200 billion of Chinese imports from 10% to 25%, an escalation of ongoing trade tensions with China.
  • 6/1/2019: China increased tariffs on American wine from 48% to 93%. 
  • 7/11/2019: French-imposed levy of 3% on gross revenues for digital services of U.S. tech giants. 
  • 9/1/2019: China increased tariffs by 5-10% on one-third of American imports. U.S. retaliated with an additional 15% tariff on $112 billion of Chinese imports.
  • 10/19/2019: U.S. levied 25% tariff on wines from France, Spain, Germany, and the U.K.. Did not include sparkling wines, wines over 14 percent alcohol, or large-format bottles. Was a reaction to the Airbus subsidy dispute.
  • 12/2/2019: U.S. threatened tariffs of up to 100% on $2.4B of French goods, including Champagne, as a reaction to the French digital services tax.
  • 12/11/2019: U.S. announced expansion of the proposed 100% tariffs to include ALL E.U. wines. Action related to the Airbus dispute and to keep pressure on the digital services dispute.
  • 1/13/2020: Cutoff date in the U.S. for public comments on the proposed 100% tariffs.

Tariff War Impact and Unintended Consequences

Tariffs are intended to punish Europe and China for trade practices, but have nothing to do with wine. Depending on how long these taxes are in place, below are some of the unintended consequences for the wine industry:

wine tariffs

U.S. - France/E.U.:

  • As of October 18, 2019, many European wines became 25% more expensive in the U.S. Suppliers, importers, and customers bear the costs. The result was lower margins for producers and importers and somewhat higher prices for consumers.
  • If tariffs rise to 100%, prices will double for everyone in the supply chain, putting European wines out of reach for most U.S. consumers. Some importers and retailers, mostly small businesses, will suffer from lower sales, and some may go out of business. 
  • Most consumers and businesses will be priced out of the world’s most famous wine regions. They won’t be able to afford to drink or serve what they desire.
  • Many restaurants across the U.S. may have to change their wine lists. Those focused on European cuisine (Italian, French, Spanish, etc.) will have to serve wines from other countries.
  • Domestic wine production cannot completely replace the loss of European wines, so substituting California for European wines is, at best, only a partial solution. 
  • California and European wines have very different profiles, so again, replacements are limited. Wines from other countries may partially replace those at lower price levels.
  • European suppliers and exporters might lose their largest market, potentially devastating the industry there. Shifting to other markets will take time, but the U.S. is a significant market that has long-standing and deep relationships with Europe.

us china trade war

U.S. - China:

  • China has recently been the fastest-growing market for California wines. As a result of 93% tariffs, Chinese demand for California wine fell dramatically in 2019. 
  • California may lose a vital customer whom the trade spent 20 years building a relationship. 
  • Most California wineries use wine bottles made in China. These bottles are now subject to an 18-21% tariff, raising production costs. Chinese suppliers pass on 100% of all tariffs to their customers.
  • Wineries may have to find alternative suppliers, if the timing of bottling allows. Chinese glass producers will lose customers.
  • Domestic glass is not a ready alternative due to higher local costs and limited supply. 
  • Such price increases impact smaller wineries significantly. They may not have the financial resources to survive.

trade war affects american small businesses

American Small Business: Not the Target, but the Side Effect

Current tariffs relate to U.S. global corporations such as Boeing, Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook. These are companies with bottomless pockets. No matter the eventual outcome, they will survive.

No one in the wine trade is exempt from some impact:

Both large and small businesses will suffer some level of negative impact from tariffs. However, the unintended consequences for small companies, including those in the wine trade, may ultimately be unsustainable. Even if the tariffs are short-lived, the consequences might not be.

The U.S. wine industry is a vast, national economic engine employing thousands that could lose billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. The wine business in the U.S. will likely contract. 

As tariffs continue, Europe will look for new markets and U.S. consumers will be forced to change habits. The U.S. wine industry will suffer permanent damage, changing the very nature of the wine business globally.

Instead of a growing and robust wine trade between the U.S. and China, China will shift supply to other countries with more favorable trading terms. Chile, New Zealand, and Australia are gaining market share in China at California’s expense.

Back to our small-business owner, Greg asks, “Why am I paying more to import wine because Airbus is getting subsidies? Why should U.S. consumers pay more for European wine and other products?” 

If politicians don’t consider the impact of tariffs on small companies, many will go out of business, taking jobs and economic prosperity with them.

NOTE: On Monday, January 20, 2020, an apparent agreement occurred between Donald Trump and Emanuel Macon to temporarily freeze mutually proposed tariffs related to the digital tax dispute. However, no details were released and the impact for the wine industry is unknown. There was no word about tariffs related to the ongoing Airbus dispute.

Top Santa Barbara County Wines from Martellotto Winery Now Available in Texas

Top Santa Barbara County Wines from Martellotto Winery Now Available in Texas

Available in Texas for the first time, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara County AVA Martellotto Winery announces exclusive deal with Goody Goody Liquors Inc.

Martellotto Winery is a producer of high-quality fine wines located in Buellton, CA. This Santa Barbara County winery focuses on Bordeaux-style wines. The grapes are grown in the newest and smallest AVA, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara County. Martellotto also crafts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the signature grapes of the region from the Sta. Rita Hills AVA.

“We have long wanted to share our wines in the dynamic Texas wine market,” says owner Greg Martellotto. “We applaud Goody Goody for expanding choice for Texas consumers. They can now enjoy the excellent wines of Santa Barbara County.”

Martellotto Winery delights consumers with expertly crafted, highly distinctive wines. Santa Barbara County is well-known for its delicious Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. However, Happy Canyon has the ideal conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc.

Wine aficionados in California savor wines from Happy Canyon. With near perfect geography, it is a rising star in the vast California wine galaxy. This small AVA has very few producing wineries and only a handful of vineyards. 

“Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara is unique in the county,” continues Greg. “The vineyards are located on west-facing, high slopes. The fruit develops qualities that compete with the best of Napa at a more affordable price point.”

Martellotto’s star is also rising. Some recent Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara County award-winning wines include “La Bomba” Cabernet Sauvignon and Riserva “Il Capoccia” red blend. With fresh 90+ ratings, and several Gold Medal recognitions at competitive blind wine competitions, these wines deliver exceedingly more than the price indicates.

Now, Texas wine drinkers can taste the magic of Martellotto Winery and Happy Canyon. Goody Goody will carry the following wines beginning 1/01/2020.

Goody Goody Liquors, founded in 1964, is the number one volume liquor store chain in Dallas. It operates 27 retail stores in the Dallas, Houston, and Longview regions. Its six wholesale locations service between 600 and 700 hotels and restaurants.

About Martellotto Winery

Set deep in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country, Martellotto Winery makes handcrafted, beautiful and exciting wines using selected grapes from across California’s Central Coast. American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) include Happy Canyon AVA, Sta. Rita Hills AVA, Santa Ynez Valley AVA, and Santa Maria Valley AVA. 

Owner and winemaker, Greg Martellotto, specializes in Bordeaux varietals. Martellotto Winery is one of the few wineries producing single varietal wines of all five of the noble Bordeaux grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.


Greg Martellotto, Owner            

Martellotto Winery

How to Make Amaro in 2020 with This Savory Homemade Amaro Recipe

How to Make Amaro in 2020 with This Savory Homemade Amaro Recipe

You can easily make homemade amaro and spice up your cocktails, sparkling wine or water, or add to coffee, tea, or lemonade - whatever your imagination creates!

Amaro vs. Bitters: What’s the Difference?

The Italian word amaro means bitter, so, technically, amaro is a form of bitters from Italy. Bitters is the tincture added in drops to cocktails. Amaro, a bittersweet liqueur, is meant to drink straight or added to cocktails.

Plants, herbs, and other botanical ingredients infuse both amaro, also called potable bitters, and bitters. Vermouth is a type of amaro because it contains wormwood, a bitter compound. 

The alcohol content in amaro ranges from 16% to 40% vs 44% for bitters and bitters are much more concentrated. 

Bitters is used as an ingredient in cocktails, other beverages, and food. Also called tincture bitters, popular brands include Angostura and Peychaud’s. Amaro is drunk as an after-dinner drink, a digestif.

Both products have deep and complex flavors from earthy and natural ingredients like herbs, roots, bark, spices, seeds, fruits, or flowers.

Amaro’s sweetness comes from added simple syrup, which is not found in bitters. Simple syrup makes amaro potable, or drinkable. Bitters alone is an ingredient, not a beverage.

With thousands of amaro-type liqueurs made around the world, many still use secret recipes. Popular amaro brands show a wide variety of ingredients: 

  • Fernet-Branca - intensely herbal
  • Cynar - vegetal
  • Aperol - orange
  • Campari - grapefruit
  • Jagermeister - herbal, medicinal

12 health benefits of bitter compounds

12 Health Benefits of Bitter Compounds

Historically, both the diet and medicine incorporated bitters. Herbal blends stimulated appetite and digestion and supported a healthy gastrointestinal system.

Plants developed bitter compounds as protection against bacteria and fungus. These compounds provided similar benefits to humans. The human body has many receptors for bitter compounds, including the taste buds in our mouths, which trigger these protective processes.

Bitter compounds benefit the human body in many ways, including:

  • Stimulate saliva, acids, and enzymes for digestion
  • Increase the absorption of vitamins and nutrients
  • Prevent fungal and microbial growth
  • Lower inflammation and oxidation 
  • Relieve gas, bloating, heartburn and reduce acid reflux
  • Improve blood circulation, remove impurities, support healthy blood sugar levels
  • Inhibit food cravings and promote a healthy appetite
  • Relieve upset stomach and nausea
  • Promote a healthy liver and gallbladder function
  • Support healthy skin 
  • Reduce the risk of ulcers
  • Manage cholesterol levels 

Some people believe bitters may be more beneficial than probiotics, but further research is needed.

Amaro was developed as a tasty way to prepare the body to digest food ahead of a meal. Today, people drink amaro both before and after meals to help with digestion.

history of amaro

The History of Amaro

Throughout history, as far back as ancient Egypt, bitters was added to wine to aid digestion. With anti-inflammatory properties, bitters also restored the body after over-imbibing. Asian cultures, particularly Ayurvedic and Chinese, used bitters in their diets.

These cultures found making bitters from wild and non-toxic plants had positive effects on the human body, including ridding the body of some toxins. 

At almost every turn in history, bitters was added to food and drink, but the Italians made amaro a specialty. Bitters and amaro were made from ancient recipes in Italian monasteries and pharmacies to use as medicine.

People developed recipes based on the plants and herbs that grew nearby, so each one was unique to its location. Many recipes were passed down through generations of families. Drinking amaro from Italy is like drinking Italy’s history. 

The British brought their use of medicinal herbal tonics to the New World. In the U.S., bitters and cocktails have been intertwined with dashes of bitters thrown into the newly created cocktail in the early 1800s. When Prohibition made its debut, people still took bitters but added sugar to make it taste better.

One of the most popular stories of bitters comes from Angostura bitters. Angostura used to be made from the bark of the angostura tree in the Venezuelan town of the same name. 

Developed by a German doctor, Angostura helped battle malaria. Eventually, the doctor created a business by selling it to sailors. The product is now made in Trinidad and Tobago. Quinine, with its antimalarial properties, is another common ingredient in bitters.

Peychaud’s Bitters, developed by an apothecary in New Orleans and now produced in Kentucky, is an integral part of the city’s famous Sazerac cocktail.

how to enjoy amaro

How to Enjoy Amaro

Traditionally, people drank amaro before a meal to prepare the body for digestion. Over time, some drank it after a heavy meal to support digestion. 

Now you can drink a small glass as an aperitif before dinner or add bitter greens such as arugula, kale, broccoli rabe, or watercress to your salad at the beginning of supper. 

After dinner, especially a large or heavy one, improve digestion by sipping a small glass or try green or chamomile tea.

Amaro is served in a small glass without ice, called neat, but you can pour it over ice or add it to tonic water or club soda. 

With wide-ranging varieties, flavors, and styles, amaro is a favorite ingredient in craft cocktails. Some people add it to coffee or even beer!

Many bartenders today offer less sweet and more savory cocktails, which are more interesting for the customer. An essential part of this trend, bitters and amaro provide flexibility, limited only by the imagination.

Some different styles include:

  • Light: lighter in color with more citrus notes
  • Medium: around 30% alcohol, balanced between bitter, sweet, and citrus 
  • Fernet: more sharply bitter
  • Alpine: made with alpine herbs, 17-30% alcohol 
  • Carciofo: made with artichoke, 17% alcohol 
  • Tartufo: made with black truffles, 30% alcohol
  • China: made with Cinchona calisaya bark
  • Rabarbaro: made with bitter rhubarb
  • Miscellaneous: made with honey, fennel, or unripe green walnuts (nocino)

In the U.S., you can buy some bitters from non-liquor retailers. Not considered alcoholic because it is not a beverage, it is sold differently from amaro.

Homemade Amaro Recipe Tips

You need a few basic things to make amaro: 

  • a high-proof neutral grain alcohol 
  • a bittering agent

The bittering agent is the backbone, so be sure you get the right agent: gentian root is popular. Others include wormwood, angelica root, cherry tree bark, or a cinchona bark.

You can add other herbals, spices, fruits, roots, and barks to create a unique blend.

Consider using a recipe if you haven’t made it before.

How much of each ingredient is up to you. Start with a 1:5 ratio, bittering agent to alcohol. 

Then make small batches from different ingredients to figure out what you like. You can blend them to see the overall effect.

Understand the process is not quick if you want good results.

Use local and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Know what you are using because some elements might be toxic. 

Use a mortar and pestle to break apart the plant fibers. 

Strain the infusion several times through cheesecloth to get all the plant material out.

Note: You can make non-alcoholic amaro using a non-alcoholic spirit or water, but the resulting product will have a short shelf-life.

You can call your result a “natural” liqueur to impress “natural” wine hipsters.

martellotto winery amaro

How to Make Amaro with the Martellotto Amaro di California Recipe

Greg Martellotto, owner of Martellotto Winery in Happy Canyon AVA near Santa Barbara, has an Italian background. He first experienced Amaro as a student abroad in Italy. After his first taste of cannoli and Cio Ciara amaro while in Palermo, he was hooked.


1 oz. cinchona bark

1/2 oz. bitter orange peel

1/2 oz. ground ginger

1/2 oz black peppercorn

1 oz. cinnamon stick

1/4 oz. cardamon

1 stick vanilla

1 Liter high-proof (190 proof) alcohol. You can use vodka or grappa, but the extraction will not be the same.

You can order the botanicals, dried herbs, and bitter compounds from a handful of specialty retailers. Or, if you have a food dehydrator, you can make your own. This works particularly well for drying fruits, fruit rinds, herbs, and flowers.


  1. Assemble dried herbs, botanicals and bitter agents. You can wrap in a cheese cloth to make a bouquet garni, or you can immerse the ingredients in a large glass jar. The jars used for sangria or Mexican aguas are good. Use a tight fitting seal to limit evaporation.
  2. Keep out of direct light and let infuse for 2 weeks.
  3. Filter the liquid from the botanical ingredients. 
  4. Make a simple syrup of equal parts water and sugar over low heat. Use 2 liters of water plus 2 liters (about 8 cups) of sugar. (Since, we started with high-proof alcohol and we want to end up with about 30% ABV, we add 2/3 parts simple syrup to 1/3 part infused spirit.)
  5. Combine the simple syrup with the infused high proof alcohol in a large glass container. Let sit for 8 weeks in a cool area, outside of direct light. Stir once a week.
  6. Bottle in 375ml bottles with a cork stopper.

Give away the bottled amaro, it makes a great gift. Don’t be surprised if you receive requests to make more. 

Play with the recipe. Be creative!

 ~Alla Salute! 

martellotto winery amaro producer

Martellotto Winery Salutes Homemade Amaro Makers

 We hope you enjoy making homemade amaro. Enjoy it with good food and company and share it with friends and family. 

Note: you cannot sell or otherwise commercialize homemade amaro without proper legal approvals.

Here’s to herbal amaro any time of year!