The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave $4.5 million this year to the San Francisco-based Wine Institute to bring foreign journalists to Northern California to write about wine, the McClatchy Newspapers report.
McClatchy's Michael Doyle reports that the cost of bringing a Japanese reporter, photographer, press agent and coordinator to California cost $40,000 including airfare, accommodations, meals, rental cars and fees. "Taxpayers and the wine industry pick up the tab," Doyle wrote. "The resulting stories are billed as marketing gold. An eight-page article in the October 2004 issue of GQ Japan, for instance, was considered the equivalent of a $160,000 ad."
The tours are part of the Market Access Program, which the House of Representatives wants to increase to $225 million a year from the current $200 million.