Alexander Valley Vineyards
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California wine may be the next casualty of Trump’s trade war with China

Hank Wetzel’s vineyards stretch to the horizon, a luminous swath of green straddling Sonoma County’s Russian River, farmed by generations of Wetzels for half a century.

Hank Wetzel, the 68-year-old patriarch of Alexander Valley Vineyards in Healdsburg, Calif., is caught in the middle of the U.S.-China trade war.  (Josh Edelson / For The Times)
Hank Wetzel’s family has farmed this luminous swath of green straddling Sonoma County’s Russian River for half a century.  (Josh Edelson / For The Times)
When he began exporting to China two years ago, Hank Wetzel had high hopes of penetrating its fast-growing imported wine market. But amid the U.S.-China trade war, “the economics of selling there are horrendous,” he said. (Josh Edelson / For The Times)
Hank Wetzel holds Pinot Noir grapes in the tasting room of Alexander Valley Vineyards. Last year, he shipped just 750 cases to China. (Josh Edelson / For The Times)
Emiglio Garcia tests the integrity of wine at Alexander Valley Vineyards. (Josh Edelson / For The Times)
“The wine business moves slowly, like a turtle,” Hank Wetzel says. “It takes a long time to build relationships.” (Josh Edelson / For The Times)
Samuel Garcia moves barrels of wine in a forklift at Alexander Valley Vineyards. The winery shipped 175,000 cases last year, mostly in the U.S. (Josh Edelson / For The Times)
About 7,000 barrels of wine are stored in a cave at Alexander Valley Vineyards. California wineries face a 93% price increase because of taxes and retaliatory tariffs imposed by China amid the trade war. (Josh Edelson / For The Times)
A label machine rotates as a cellar worker tends to the production line at Alexander Valley Vineyards. U.S. wine exports to China were down 33% in the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2017. (Josh Edelson / For The Times)
A cellar worker carries a stack of boxes on the production line at Alexander Valley Vineyards. Hank Wetzel had never sought to export wines until he visited China two years ago. (Josh Edelson / For The Times)
Wine bottles move along a production line at Alexander Valley Vineyards. “Twenty years from now, China could be the largest wine market in the world,” Hank Wetzel says. “We want to be ready.” (Josh Edelson / For The Times)
Barrels of wine are stacked at Alexander Valley Vineyards. Costco, which is opening its first store in China in Shanghai next week, bought 250 cases of Hank Wetzel’s wine. In June, while it was in transit, China imposed its latest tariff of 15%. (Josh Edelson / For The Times)
Hank Wetzel stands between stacks of stored barrels of wine at Alexander Valley Vineyards. Wetzel says he voted for President Trump because “he was a businessman… But in the short term, these tariffs are not working.” (Josh Edelson / For The Times)
Hank Wetzel is flanked by son Harry, left, and his wife, Linda, at their family-owned winery, Alexander Valley Vineyards. (Josh Edelson / For The Times)
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