Wise & otherwise – wine industry news

Wise & otherwise – wine industry news – column

Philip E. Hiaring

Wise & Otherwise

WINERY NEWSLETTERS. Add Rodney Strong Vineyards in Healdsburg, Calif. to the list of wineries with newsletters. As those who know Rod might guess, his is different. The first issue of the “Out of Hand Journal” has a quote on the first page that says “Trust me, this has nothing to do with wine at all.” Sure enough, the “lead story” had to do with a rare vacation in the Yucatan. Great stuff, and done in Rod’s inimitable style. Such as his attendance at a sommelier dinner in Florida: “By the third course, I was introducing myself as Dom Perignon. And getting away with it.” On a more serious note. Hats Off to Fitzpatrick Winery in Somerset. Not only did the Fitzpatricks take a major poke at the feds and Lloyd Connelly’s initiative (Prop. 134) to raise the wine tax by 12,800% in California, they enclosed a brochure from Taxpayers for Common Sense. Needless to say, the latter group is fighting the Connelly crowd tooth and nail.

GREEN MONSTER, CONT’D. Sen. Pete Wilson, running for California governor, took a good (but clean) shot at the Hayden-Van de Kamp initiative that, from what we know at this point, would cripple California agriculture. Just in time for the recession. Wilson calls Prop. 128 “SNEATH” … the Secret New Employment Act for Tom Hayden. Hayden, who brought Californians Prop. 65, would be in charge of the environmental office the Green Monkey would create. Dianne Feinstein lost my vote for governor by endorsing the Green Moron. On the celebrity front, Michael Landon, who played Little Joe on “Bonanza,” has been recruited to do radio spots for GM. Oh yes, Greenie is getting free air time to pitch its glitzy if dishonest message to the masses.

SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME. Reference here is to the industries’ acceptances of “government warning” statements on beer, wine and spirits products. They thought they could avoid product liability suits by going along with the cockamamie warnings. Well, the New Jersey state Supreme Court ruled in July that warnings on cigarette packs don’t protect tobacco companies from such suits. And tobacco companies have had warnings on packages since 1966. The Jersey decision departs from several federal appeals courts rulings, however. So stay tuned, with your fingers crossed.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT. California Democrats showed fine y color–yellow–by refusing to take a stance on either of the two alcoholic beverage tax initiatives placed on this November’s ballot. Some apparently favored Lloyd Connelly’s 134, while others favored the Willie Brown-backed Prop. 126. Poor showing on the gut check, demos.

HEY CISCO! Here we go again: the Center for Science in the Public Interest (ho-hum) and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Christine Lubinski, Prop.) plan to pressure Canandaigua Wine Co. in New York State to drop its Cisco brand of 20% wine. Why? The D.C.-based do-gooders and neo-Drys claim the consuming public might mistake it for a wine cooler! Presumably, they are serious about this. At what point do these folks run out of credibility, anyway? What’s next on the hit list of the moral SWAT Team? How about no-alcohol wine? I mean, it looks like a regular bottle of wine.

FIGHTING WORDS. In these laid-back days it’s nice to see someone take action like the California Raisin Advisory Board plans to take. CALRAB plans to spend $585,000 to defend raisins against the charges made against the dancin’ darlings in a book, “Diet for a Poisoned Planet.” Author David Steinman apparently claims raisins are the most pesticide-laden food items a person can put into their systems. Mercy! The Los Angeleno puts fruits, nuts and vegetables into red or green light categories according to Food and Drug Total Diet Studies. Only raisins and peanuts found themselves red-lighted. Whatever, CALRAB plans to fight back. The half-a-mill plus could be spent suing the socks off Harmony Books, a division of Crown Publishers, educating the public or dealing with bad press. Go get ’em, CALRAB! Get some!

BUBBLING AWAY. Prices for grapes in Champagne rose 20% to more than $5,500 per ton as of the 1990 crop. That means, say producers, a rise of at least 10% per bottle. A 30-year-old price negotiation system collapsed, and this led to the hike, which some said could be as high as 30% more for grapes. Obviously, with the strong franc and weak buck, it will take considerable finesse to sell the old sparkle in the U.S On the other hand, U.S.-produced champagne and Spanish cavas likely will be more attractive than ever.

RECIPROCITY. It’s good to see more states (six in all) have adopted legislation allowing reciprocal shipments of wine to adults in, now, Wisconsin, California, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico and Missouri. More states should pass similar legislation, inasmuch as shipments are being made into non-reciprocal states anyway. We have received wine–even spirits–from as far away as New York. Some of it even came in the mail!

COPYRIGHT 1990 Hiaring Company

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