Wine East Opinionby Hudson Cattell
June 2014Tennessee state Rep. Jon Lundberg and Sen. Bill Ketron announce their support of a bill to let state residents vote on whether to allow the sale of wine in retail food stores.
How easy is it to change wine laws in the East? Much easier than it used to be in some states, and as difficult as ever in others. A look at a few of the wine laws that were passed or considered by legislative bodies this March shows that some states are now more receptive to changing the law to benefit their wine industries.
With the passage of time, direct shipping issues have been resolved to the point where only nine states completely prohibit the direct shipment of wine to consumers. Two of the remaining states—South Dakota and Rhode Island—had such legislation on their agendas this legislative session.
A bill in South Dakota that would have allowed a licensed winery to ship up to 12 cases per year to an individual consumer passed the state Senate in mid-February and was sent to the House, where it faced a tight deadline. the House session ended March 13, and any bill had to be passed by March 11 to be enacted this year. Even though the governor had said he would sign the bill, it did not get through the House in time. In Rhode Island, a bill that would have permitted wineries and wine retailers to ship up to 24 cases of wine annually to any resident over age 21 continued to meet strong opposition and failed to get anywhere.
A law was passed in New York state to allow roadside farm markets to buy and sell wines sourced up to 20 miles from the market. Under the leadership of Jim Trezise, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation has argued for many bills that have freed up farm wineries sufficiently that new bills with less impact are less likely to be questioned. On the grounds that a St. Lawrence County Wine Trail would attract tourists, boost local business and create jobs, the state Senate included a measure in its budget to establish the trail.
Change in TennesseeREAD MORE
March 2010I’ve seen the term “stealth” applied to wines that get little notice; that is, they “fly under the radar.” Fruit wines could be called stealth wines simply because in comparison with grape wines they get little attention in the wine world, even though increasingly more wineries are making them and many consumers like them. But they could also qualify as stealth wines because they are all too often the subjects of hidden discrimination that takes place without explanation.READ MORE
A number of wineries worldwide have been negatively impacted by the current recession and, for one reason or another, closed their doors. Several of the large wine corporations have sold off less profitable brands and consolidated smaller wineries. So when Constellation Brands announced on the afternoon of Sept. 10 that it was closing Widmer’s Wine Cellars in Naples, N.Y., it did not come as a complete surprise.READ MORE
August 2009The European Union is once again making its presence felt in the United States. It has only been three years since the EU succeeded in having Champagne, port, sherry and similar "place" terms banned not only on bottles for export into the EU but on all U.S. wine labels. Now the EU is withdrawing permission for 14 wine terms including chateau, classic, clos, sur lie, ruby, tawny and late bottled vintage from being used on labels of U.S. wines exported into the EU.READ MORE
January 2009The summer of 1978 was the only time I met Philip Hiaring Sr., the former editor and publisher of Wines & Vines. I was in San Francisco for the first time, and author Leon Adams had invited me to a luncheon where the first vodka made from grapes was being released. Hiaring complimented me on an editorial that had appeared in the March issue of The Pennsylvania Grape Letter and Wine News, the newsletter predecessor of Wine East. The editorial, which appeared in observance of the 45th anniversary of Repeal, was titled "We Take the 21st." This was the first editorial we published on the theme that it is fitting to observe the anniversary of Repeal by taking a look at the legacy of Prohibition, the lessons it should have taught us, and the odds that it might one day happen again.READ MORE
December 2008The group that helped usher N90 Riesling through the approval process--(from left) Frederick Frank, Alan Green, Eric Volz, Marc Fuchs, Patrick Hooker and Tom Burr--cuts a ceremonial ribbon.On Oct. 9, Fred Frank, president of Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars in Hammondsport, N.Y., hosted a ceremony officially releasing Riesling clone N90 from quarantine. That this was no ordinary release was underscored by the presence of two high-ranking officials from USDA's APHIS-PPQ division, New York state's commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, and the director of Cornell University's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. Frank represented his father, Willy Frank, who was responsible for the collaborative effort involving federal and state government and a major university that resulted in what was termed a unique introduction of a foreign grapevine brought into the United States without going through the usual lengthy quarantine process. It took less than two years and four months from the time 1,500 N90 vines left Germany's Neustadt Research Station until they were planted in Hammondsport and officially released from quarantine. Had the usual procedure been followed, it would have taken perhaps 7 years to pass 10 or 20 cuttings through indexing in quarantine and then propagate them in the quantity wanted.READ MORE
November 2008The Ontario Viniculture Association is open to wineries who produce fruit wines and non-VQA wines, which are popular choices in the province.
PHOTO: Southbrook VineyardsWines from Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario (VQA) deservedly enjoy the acclaim they are getting in the province, and they benefit from government funding for promotion and marketing. But there are also fruit wines and other high-quality wines made in Ontario that do not qualify for VQA status and have long been discriminated against by an overly restrictive system for selling wines there. Help may be forthcoming for these wineries in the form of an Ontario Viniculture Association, which was formed in April and now has 55 member wineries. The organization is dedicated to leveling the playing field for all 100% Ontario-grown wines.READ MORE
October 2008Twenty-four years ago, all 50 states set their legal drinking age at 21, partly because of a federal threat to cut highway funds by 10% to any state that didn't comply with the age limit. At that time, Wine East termed the threat "blackmail," because that was exactly what it was, and called for education as the best way to encourage responsible drinking and solve the problems of alcohol abuse.READ MORE
September 2008Jackson-Triggs Vintners, OntarioBack in 1976, when I first started writing about the grape and wine industry in the East, there were 125 wineries in eastern North America. Today that number is close to 2,000. At that time, people were fond of saying that the industry "is in its infancy." It would be several years before I first heard someone say that the East could produce "world-class wines." Today, wines from many eastern wineries are winning top awards in national and international competitions. What happened in little more than a quarter of a century?READ MORE
September 2008On July 9, it was announced that Lancaster, Pa.-based Wine East magazine is joining forces with Wines & Vines, and that as of this issue (September 2008), Hudson Cattell and Linda Jones McKee will edit a special section in Wines & Vines every month. Readers of Wines & Vines who are not familiar with Wine East may be wondering who are Hudson and Linda, what is their background in wine, and what was that publication all about?READ MORE