Monday, September 15, 2008

Politics & Wine!

Just received my copy of Tyler Colman's "Wine Politics" but since I am of to Italy in a couple of days, I will have to read it when I get back. But here are a few of my thoughts on politics and how they have influenced wine and wine consumption for thousands of years. Speaking of Italy, I guess you could say that is where it all began. When Roman armies invaded and conquered one European country after another they planted vineyards along the way. Not very nice to be taken over by a foreign army but how often do you end up with some nice vineyards in your backyard planted by your enemy?
It is generally believed that Georgia is the oldest wine region in the world where it all began some 7000 years ago and it is often referred to as 'the birthplace of wine'
Some archaeologists now believe that wine may first have been produced in Iran.
However I have"Georgia on my mind" when it comes to classic manipulation of wine for political purposes. Back in March of 2006 Russia put an embargo on wine from Georgia
claiming to have found heavy metals and pesticides in their wines. A little political economic blackmail to punish pro west Georgia. Russia had been the largest consumer of Georgian wine accounting for up to 85% of its production. But over the next couple of years Georgia found markets in other European countries, notably Poland. Taking it one step further the recent invasion of Georgia by the Russian army resulted in Polish wine drinkers, in support and solidarity with Georgia, to encourage all Polish people to drink Georgian wines. Watch for Russia to take punitive measures to punish those popular pro west Poles.
And then of course there is always the "politically correct" factor in wine consumption. A few years back a good friend of mine, who happened to be the XO on one of Canada's navy ships, was informed that Canada's ambassador to the UN would be making a visit to our west coast navy base in Esquimalt and that the ambassador wished to have a meal with the officers on his ship.
He was instructed as to the wines to be served with dinner but when my friend read that they were French wines he had a rebellious fit. Not on his ship! British Columbia wines or nothing. Hastily the protocol officer for the ambassador admitted this "oversight" and BC wines would be served.
In my own case I fought the government for 4 years in an attempt to get a licence to sell BC wines. Finally BC's Attorney General himself overturned the liquor control board's decision not to give me a licence. Talk about heavy handed politics! And so on and on it goes. Yes, I am afraid politics in wine is here to stay. I am sure there are countless stories out there about politics and wine. What is yours?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Welcome to New Wine Blog!!

It gives me great pleasure to welcome and introduce a new wine blogger, Canada's well known
John Schreiner.
I have had the pleasure of knowing John for many years. John has had a long and distinguished career as a reporter and writer. He began as a reporter for the Regina Leader-Post and subsequently became the newspaper's chief political reporter in the Saskatchewan Legislature. In 1961 John joined the staff of The Financial Post in Toronto. Served in the paper's Montreal bureau from 1967 t0 1969 and in 1973 became the bureau chief in Vancouver for that newspaper. John "retired" in 2001 but has been busier than ever adding to his already impressive list of 15 books on wine.
John has also been the regional correspondent for Appelation America.
So now he has added blogging to his endeavours and you can click on
"John Schreiner on Wine" in my links list or follow this link to his blog
The first Canadian Icewine was made by Walter Hainle in 1973 in Peachland in the Okanagan and yes it was several years before Ontario started making
John is the world most knowledgeable expert on Icewine or Eiswein and his book
Icewine-The Complete Story is a must read for anyone wanting to learn more on this fascinating wine. I did a post on the 2006 Icewine harvest in BC and you can scroll down in my December 2006 archives to Dec. 3
to get John's take on it.
Welcome John!! I am sure we will get many informative and entertaining posts.
Speaking of entertaining, I have just put a link to "My Favorite Canadian Wine Lady"
in my links list. Follow the link and have a look. She has a great newsletter that you can sign up for. I don't know how she does it all. Daenna is a very knowledgeable (and beautiful) wine lady and she is the Diva of wine. Welcome to my links list Daenna.
So there you have it. I am off to Italy on September 17th but will get one more post in on "politics" and wine before I go. Pliny the Elder has been quoted as follows. "It has become a commonplace proverb that in wine there is truth" Yes and isn't it too bad that so much in the way of politics is commonplace as well.