Fair Play For Big Wine

by Mark Scaramella, September 30, 2010

If you entered the word “wine” into the Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s website search tool on September 30, 2010, you’d get 14,388 hits as of September 30, 2010. Here are a random selection of titles from the most recent 100 of those:

Value for great everyday syrah

Wine of the week: Blackstone, 2007 Sonoma Reserve Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon

Winery fresh

Dog days in Wine Country

Alexander Valley sweep

Taking a Taste of Petaluma

Summer may be over, but heat is returning

Rosenblum zin shoots for balance and fruit

A heady Guenoc claret

Other Italian family wineries thriving

Winemaker Rex's knack for chemistry

Lamb tongue growing in popularity

Wine tasting from a distance

Wine of the Week: Rosenblum Cellars, 2008 Sonoma County Zinfandel at $18

Rediscovering white zin

Winery revival: Foppiano dares to reinvent itself

Disputed coastal tasting room gets county's OK

Wine: 'Cheap is chic'

Sonoma County's ag chief charged in DUI

Upcoming fun events in Wine Country

New tasting rooms to try around Wine Country

New places to taste in Wine Country

Salad with a rich chardonnay

'Satan' of grape consulting makes own wine

Murphy-Goode Winery co-founder David Ready Sr. dies at 64

Lake County Wine Auction a sellout

Now's the best time for wine touring

Constellation adds solar to Sonoma County wineries

Expecting a hectic harvest

The rush to crush

Kendall-Jackson tomato festival offers breathalyzer test

Hunting movies for Wine Country Film Festival

* * *

This brief computerized query came to mind a couple of weeks ago when we read a comment by someone identifying themselves as “Kat” regarding AVA contributor Will Parrish’s ongoing wine industry investigative series on this website.

“Kat” wrote: I am hoping that the forthcoming investigative pieces will be informative, including any current positive effects (jobs?) along with the destructive. My active opposition could only come from education and research-pros and cons.”

We've got a deal for Kat:

Write a note to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat saying something like this: "I am hoping that your reporting will include coverage of the destructive effects (clearcutting oak rangelands, pesticides, failure to pay wages to illegal immigrants, regulatory failure, erosion, water table degradation, the cumulative effects of ponds, fish kills and other endangered species effects, union busting, excessive profit margins, negative pressure from banks and other lending institutions, sucking up time and resources of county ag departments and depriving other agriculture from necessary assistance, turning seasonal workers and their families over to County welfare departments during the off-season, corporate control of the Wine Institute's research, and the percentage of advertising the Press Democrat receives from the wine industry?). My active support of the wine industry could only come from education and research -- pros and cons.”

It's funny, during the years and years of reporting on the negative effects of the timber industry back in the 1990s, we never received a note saying, “I am hoping that your coverage of the timber industry includes any current positive effects (jobs?) along with the destructive. My active opposition could only come from education and research -- pros and cons.”

Maybe that was because it was pretty obvious at the time that the timber industry was quite capable of public relations and advertising and certainly didn’t need help from the Anderson Valley Advertiser.

Also, is Kat saying that any report of, say, a vineyard pond-caused landslide should include a paragraph at the end, saying, "To be fair, although the wine industry has experienced a rush for profits, heedless planting and the County has failed to regulate or even enforce existing rules, the industry does provide some jobs and tax revenues"?

What is Kat's definition of "current positive effects"? How far would she go? Would, say, improving the Press Democrat's bottom line with high priced advertising count as a "current positive effect”? What about all those bottles of wine they donate for charity fundraisers worth hundreds of dollars? How about increased property values and tax revenues for the County? (If it includes these, then why not just convert all the rangeland to housing developments which would increase them much more?

If the local mainstream press was doing it’s job reporting the pros and the cons of the biggest industry in the area, we wouldn’t need investigations which focus mainly on the cons.

If Kat wants the pros of the wine industry she need go no further than the over 15,000 wine-related articles published by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat over the last ten years.

Then Kat can feel fully informed of the pros and cons and can begin her “active opposition” to Big Wine – if the industry hasn’t collapsed of its own weight in the meantime.

2 Responses to Fair Play For Big Wine

  1. Lawrence Bullock Reply

    October 1, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Yeah, well, as I read it, most of the time when people request that you “be objective” they’re really saying, “Shut the fuck up unless you’re kissing my ass.”

  2. Kat Reply

    October 8, 2010 at 8:28 am

    You’ve got yourself a deal. On the other hand, maybe I should have mentioned in my earlier response that I am new to Mendo and pretty ignorant about “the timber industry back in the 1990’s”. Since the only local industry I’ve been exposed to in the past 2 years have been the wineries, I was hoping for more background info.

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