APRIL 15, 2010: The Bill, HR 5034: The Library of Congress

APRIL 16, 2010: Robert Taylor, Wine Spectator; Jim Harper, Washington Watch; Alder Yarrow, VinographyEvan Dawson, New York Cork Report

APRIL 17, 2010: Allan, Cellarblog; Sonadora, Wannabe Wino Wine Blog; Tom Wark, Ferementation; George Parkinson, Blog4Wine; The Wine Harlots

APRIL 18, 2010: Tom Johnson, Louisville Juice; William Dowd, Dowd on Drinks; Krista Giovacco, Noble Rot; Jeff Lefevere, Good Grape

APRIL 19, 2010: Jeff Siegel, The Wine Curmudgeon; WineCompass; Joe Smith, KGW

APRIL 20, 2010: Tyler Colman, Dr. Vino

APRIL 21, 2010: Amy Corron Power, Another Wine Blog; Wine Business; VintubaTV; Paul Franson, Wines & Vines; Match Vineyards

APRIL 22, 2010: Tom Wark, Fermentation; Joe Roberts, Wine Crush

APRIL 23, 2010: Josh Wade, DrinkNectar

APRIL 24, 2010 David Honig, Palate Press

APRIL 25, 2010 Adam Japko, Wine Zag; Catie, Through The Walla Walla Grape Vine

ALSO: STOPHR5034, Facebook

On April 15, 2010, a bill, HR 5034, written by the National Beer WHOLESALERS Association (NBWA), and supported by the Wine & Spirits WHOLESALERS of America (WSWA), was introduced to Congress.

Every day since then, wine writers have railed at the danger posed to both consumer rights and the livelihoods of small family wineries across the country. I’ve carefully timed my article so as to be the last wine writer to weigh in; but I did want my readers to know about this bill, and if you are feeling the urge, I would invite you to take action against it. Here’s the deal:

The bill is an effort to roll back hard fought battles on the part of consumers to receive direct shipment of wines from small out of state wineries. Recently court decisions have been going in favor of the consumer. Many small, family wineries rely on direct shipments of wine to stay in business.

If passed, HR 5034 can set up new barriers, reinstate old barriers, and prevent legal challenges to those barriers to direct shipments of wine and other alcohol.

The bill is a transparent ploy by the alcohol wholesale associations to guarantee a permanent monopoly of all alcohol distribution for their members, and protecting children from access to alcohol is the reason why they say the bill is needed.

I receive many bottles of wine at my door, samples to be reviewed, and I have had to sign for all of them. Both Fed Ex and UPS collect signatures, and check ID’s to make sure the recipients are 21 or over. The boxes the wines are shipped are clearly marked “adult signature required.” No youth ever ordered premium wine online, paid by credit card, waited a week for delivery, and presented a legal ID at delivery; if a youth were attempting to obtain alcohol, they would show up at the local convenience store with a $20 bill and ask older shoppers to buy them a 12 pack of Budweiser – instant gratification, realistic, real, no ID required. The “justification” for the bill is a charade. This is nothing more than bought and paid for politicians from both parties doing the bidding of their contributors.

Ending direct shipment of wine ends any possibility of tasting small lot wines from small family owned wineries, as most wholesalers don’t bother carrying these handcrafted specialty wines.

To write your elected representative to tell them you oppose HR 5034, Free The Grapes! has prepared a letter than you can optionally personalize, and by entering your personal information, your letter will be emailed directly to both you U.S. Representative and your U.S. Senators.

Yesterday, the folks behind the 2010 Wine Blog Awards opened nominations in a number of categories. I went to facebook and pretty much asked for a nomination. My very good friend, and a supremely talented writer, Nancy Cameron Iannios nominated my wine blog in the Best New Wine Blog category.

If you read my blog regularly, and feel moved to do so, here’s a link to the nomination site; you can second my nomination through April 7 at:

Click here to be taken to a place you can second my nomination, thanks!

Here is the kind nomination post Nancy left for my nomination:

I am writing to nominate JohnOnWine.com for a Wine Blog Award in the Best New Wine Blog category.

John’s blog is well read and highly ranked. His posts aren’t puff pieces, but often run t thousands of words; he writes with passion and it is felt in each article he writes.

John started in April 2009, and has 66 posts, his writing has gotten better, richer, more full month by month, post by post.

Consider his event recaps, they are the most complete, often surpassing the descriptions of wine writers who have been around the scene many more years:

Celebrating V. Sattui Winery’s 125th Anniversary

19TH Annual Zinfandel Festival

The Biggest Petite Event of them all – Dark & Delicious

Passion for Pinot Noir, a recap of the Pinot Noir Summit

John’s interview with Ravenswood’s Joel Peterson and Bedrock Wine Company’s Morgan Twain-Peterson was a must read:

A conversation with Ravenswood’s Joel Peterson and Bedrock Wine Company’s Morgan Twain-Peterson

I look forward to each winery review John writes, it is almost like being there:

Feature Spotlight: Toad Hollow Vineyards

Featured spotlight winery: Keller Estates

Mendocino Wine Company: Parducci and Paul Dolan Vineyards

I tried to taste Fetzer’s, but tasted Topel Winery’s wines instead.

John provides wine reviews:

Nine Fine Wines reviewed, with my food pairings. All socially conscious.

2005 Toad Hollow Merlot Reserve, Richard McDowell Vineyard, Russian River Valley

As well as wine book and accessory reviews:

Getting Doon with Been Doon So Long

Age Gets Better With Wine

Friends don’t let friends Vacu-Vin

Finally, John handles tougher more controversial aspects of wine, wine and health, wine blogger ethics, proposed wine excise tax increases, and entertains while he educates his readers:

Wine and pregnancy, a healthy mix.

So, you don’t get wine writers or the wine industry? I know why.

Will Trader Joe’s be forced to sell Seven Buck Chuck?

Who is behind the “Alcohol-Related Harm and Damage Services Act of 2010″ Initiative?

With respect to all of the talented first year wine bloggers nominated, I think John Cesano has to be given serious consideration for this award. John’s work is not just well read, it is referenced, tweeted, retreated, linked, and commented on with great regularity.

Thanks again to Nancy; in the spirit of full disclosure, Nancy runs a business offering consultants to wineries in need of a little help, and I am one of Nancy’s consultants.

I will say, with what limited humility I am able to muster, that I too think I have the Best New Wine Blog in the English reading world, and that I am certainly worthy of being a nominated finalist for consideration. Just sayin’.

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Yesterday there was another tweetup built around wine. From 5pm-7pm, people opened bottles of wine and tweeted about them. Some tweeps banded together, turning a tweetup into a meet up, to enjoy wine and fellowship, and then tweet about the experience.

These wine tweetups were started by Rick Bakas, who handles Social Media Marketing chores for St. Supery. Initially, the theme wine was California Cabernet, and a huge number of people opened, tasted, and tweeted about the experience, using the hashtag #CaliCab, allowing a streaming shared experience across space. Did a number of people visit St. Supery, or open a bottle of St. Supery Cab? Sure, they did.

In the wake of success, other wine tweetups followed. There have been Sauvignon Blanc (#SauvBlanc), Washington state Merlot (#WAMerlot), and yesterday was a celebration of the winemaker’s art at blending (#WineBlends).

I visited Parducci near my home in Ukiah for the March 4 Sauvignon Blanc tweetup and had a great time; I returned again yesterday to taste two wine blends.

First things first, I want to say that the tasting room gals were not only smiling hugely, but laughing freely; Parducci has some of the friendliest, most welcoming staff in the industry.

One of the wines, the 2006 Paul Dolan Vineyards Deep Red, Mendocino County, I had tasted last month with the winemaker Bob Swain. Here are my notes from then: $45 – 14.5% alc. 770 cases made. 100% Demeter certified Biodynamic. 100% Dark Horse Vineyards; 57% Syrah, 31% Petite Sirah, 12% Grenache. Deep Red represents the winemakers attempt to best capture the best expression of the single vineyard for the vintage. Plum, blueberry. The land and varietals are both speaking with an earthiness from the vineyard and spices from the Syrah, Petite Sirah and Grenache. Yesterday, I was much less analytical, enjoying the wine with some delicious Greek food made at a Ukiah shop I didn’t know exists – but will be visited often now. My notes, limited by twitter’s character limits, were much simpler; 100% Demeter Biodynamic grapes, soft tannins, red fruit, delicious flavors, utterly drinkable.

The second wine was initially made exclusively for Whole Foods, but is now available at Safeway; the 2008 Parducci Sustainable White is 41.5% Chenin Blanc, 38% Sauvignon Blanc, 12% Viognier, 7.5% Muscat Canelli, and 1% Fruilliano, but 100% delish. crisp, yet fruity, unpretentious, accessible, easily drinkable.

Although I have a stack of wine books to read and review, sent to me at no cost, I bought Paul Dolan’s book, True To Our Roots: Fermenting A Business Revolution, at the tasting room and look forward to reading and reviewing it when I can get the time.

Next month’s event will be Chardonnay (#Chardonnay), and is scheduled for May 6. If you can visit a Chardonnay producing winery, like Parducci, it is completely worthwhile. You shouldn’t need an excuse to get out after work, and enjoy a little wine and food, and meet some new, like minded people. There is a rumor that Parducci is going to drag Cinco de Mayo out an extra day and have a taco truck park next to the tasting room; I hope the rumor is true. I love real tacos, I love Chardonnay; I want to find out which Chardonnay pairs best with Al Pastor.

If you can’t make it to a winery, buy a bottle of Chardonnay (French White Burgundy will do, but look for something either local to where you live or exciting to try, open it about a half hour before the appointed time to let it breathe and open up, then taste and tweet with the rest of us, starting at about 5pm.

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I got a Google alert last night just before bed, letting me know that I had been mentioned by name in someone else’s blog.

I didn’t find the post particularly complimentary; quite the opposite, I felt I had been insulted.

To be honest, I was a bit pissed. I didn’t really mind the post in and of itself, and the author was perhaps justified in his feelings about me and my actions; I just thought the author should have posted his thoughts as a comment to the article that offended him and perhaps a worthwhile conversation could occur. Instead, without contacting me, and without providing a full context, he took issue with my decision to publish the contact information, easily found using Google, of the authors of the ill considered 12,775% wine tax increase initiative they are trying to qualify for the November ballot.

Rather than count to 100, I got out of bed and crafted a comment of my own, but (perhaps fortunately) it was lost in the internet ether. I wrote my response again and posted it by email.

Having responded, I found I didn’t really care much anymore, my anger had dissipated, and reading some of the other posts on his site, I realized I had read his work before, and found just about every post I wasn’t in to be enjoyable.

Here’s a link to his original piece, along with my response which he edited in and then responded to.

I’m sure it wasn’t his intention, but you’ll find Tom Johnson’s LouisvilleJuice blog listed over in the right column where I have my blogroll.

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