Sunday, June 26, 2005

Back from the journey

Me on the golden gate bridge

I have returned from my bike tour!
Sierra to the Sea 2005 was a great bike tour. It was a bit cooler than past years and that was to the better. I had some great ride and saw many old friends and made new ones. I just returned yesterday so I have not yet processed a lot of the memories. On the last day many of the riders talked about their journeys. It impressed me that the experiences everybody shared were so different that at times they could have been talking about different trips. I guess life, and bicycle tours, is like that.

Kenneth has moved to his new home
Today I helped youngest son Ken move his bed and some of his belongings to his new place. Tonight is his first night in his own place. For me, for the first time since 1976, the nest is empty.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I am going off the grids

I am a one week drop out
For the next nine days I will be off the Internet grid and off the power grid. I will be on a bicycle touring the middle of California. If you want more information I will be on a bicycle tour called the Sierra to the Sea. I am really looking forward to the adventure and will blog about it after I return. There will be other big adventures starting next week too. My son Kenneth is getting his own place. He is moving into a rental trailer owned by one of my other son's, Jeff and his wife Nicole. Ken will be their tenant.

Ken with Shadow

Blog full disclosure statement
Every now and then I like to post a link to each of my six blogs. This link gives a more honest view of my Internet identity than does reading one or two of the blogs alone.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Free Wine, as in free speech

Special Interests Attempting to Limit Your Selection and Pocket Your Money
SB 118 (Chesbro) is a bill in reaction to the US Supreme Court direct wine shipping decision that prohibited discriminatory legislation. The bill originally would have created a permit that could be applied for by anyone licensed to sell wine to consumers (wineries and wine retailers) in any state. The permit would require registration with the California ABC, payment of California taxes, the same protections against delivery to minors that currently exist for CA wineries and retailers, limitations on shipment volume and would give the ABC the authority to regulate the shipments.

However, the mega-wholesale distributor interests in CA (Southern Wine and Spirits and Young's Market Company) have called in their political muscle in order to remove out-of-state retailers from the permit system. Under the version of the bill approved on June 14th, only a select few retailers outside of the state of California may even apply for a permit.

This is WRONG. The proposed permit system MUST provide for the ability of all retail licensees (wherever located) to participate freely. If retailers outside of CA are excluded from the CA market system, other states would retaliate by excluding California retailers from their markets. The goal of the bill was to encourage the creation of a national system of permits and licenses that provides the opportunity for every licensed merchant to participate, no matter where that merchant is located. This would be in the interest of all consumers, whether in CA or elsewhere.

Retailers in all states invest significant sums of money in inventory from multiple winery and importer sources. Retailers hold that inventory (often for years) and make it available in a convenient way to consumers who know and trust the merchant. Those customers could be across the street or across the country. That is the reality of the current market, especially for the expensive, limited production and usually allocated, collectible wines from California and the rest of the world. Requiring these wines to go back up through the three-tier system after they have already traversed it once (if they even could, currently they would just be unavailable outside of California, or unavailable to California if they are located in another state) would give the wholesalers a double profit margin; certainly good for the wholesalers, but not very good for the retailer or for the consumer. Who pays? You bet that the consumer pays.

The Supreme Court in the Granholm case condemned state laws that discriminated against out-of-state interests in favor of identically situated in-state interests. This statute would perpetuate discrimination WITHIN the California market by attempting to keep retailers from outside of California OUT of the market. While we think that any such effort would be unconstitutional as to retailers outside of California under Granholm, we do not want to fight the statute after it is written. Our goal is to make sure that the statute doesn't get passed with that flaw in the first place!

The interests of the wholesale tier, by proposing to take retail licensees out of the statute, is NOT to benefit California retailers by keeping them safe from competition from outside of the state. It is aimed at PREVENTING California retailers from servicing customers outside of California unless the transaction is run through the wholesale tier at a significant cost. Their goal is to have this bill emulated throughout the US. If California creates a discriminatory licensing or permit scheme, the wholesalers will use that example as a bludgeon in every other legislature in the US to keep those markets closed to California retailers.

The proposed bill can be found online at:

There is a link on that page for you to take action and contact legislators about the bill, or you can go directly to:

Most importantly - spread the word about this proposed bill. For a wine lover or wine retailer this is special interest politics at its worst.

K&L Wine Merchants
Phone: 877-KLWines (toll free 877-559-4637)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Wine Reviews: Januik 2002 Red Wine, Castoro 2001 Syrah

Januik 2002 Red Wine, Columbia Valley [Our Rating, 8] Very nice, wonderful nose. A pleasant Meritage blend, a very easy wine to drink. A very nice wine that is dry and finishes well. This wine gets little notice in the wine press.

Castoro 2001 Syrah, Paso Robles Reserve [Our Rating, 7.5] Nice nose and a pleasant wine to drink on a relaxing evening. A nice Syrah. Good nose. Pleasant, concentrated but not explosive to me, a little constrained, a bit tart not jammy. A nice finish. It has strong oak and tart berries with a hint of vanilla and finishes well. According to Castoro, "The 2001 grapes for this wine were sourced from the same well-tended vineyards in the Estrella area of the Paso Robles appellation. In the aroma you will find a high intensity and balance of berry fruits, violets and oak. The mouthfeel has characteristically moderate levels of tannin, yet is lush. The bright fruit and oak flavors linger on the palate. The moderate acidity and appealing level of astringency make for a versatile wine that pairs well with anything from appetizers to heavy meat dishes."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Wine Review: Burrell School 2003 Estate Pichon Syrah

Burrell School 2003 Estate Pichon Syrah, Santa Cruz Mountains [Our Rating, 7.5+] A nice Syrah. Good nose, a little tannic. Pleasant, not too fruit forward. Taste of black berries, smoke and cedar, a lingering finish that leaves a little hint of oak and cherries on the tongue.