Archive for Tom Wark


Posted in Info on Wine with tags , , , , , , , on May 23, 2010 by ballymote

House Resolution 5034, The Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act of 2010 (C.A.R.E), may just be the most cleverly named piece of political/social agenda since the pro-abortionists coined the words “Pro Choice” to describe the death of a fetus (if that line doesn’t get me “comments” then nothing will). H.R. 5034 purports to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors by excluding all wine shipments to individual states. It was concocted by the Beer and Wine Wholesalers of America in response to the increasing trend of states allowing consumers to purchase wine directly from California and have it shipped to their home states. Here is what Tom Wark, author of the #1 Wine Blog in America, Fermentation,  has to say about this onerous piece of legislation:

House Resolution 5034 is by far the most audacious attempt ever by America’s beer, wine and spirit wholesalers to takeover complete and total control of the country’s alcohol beverage market and, in the process, create circumstances in all fifty states that assure consumers only have access to the slim number of wines to which wholesalers decide consumers ought to have access. But perhaps most sinister is the fact that if H.R. 5034 passes, it will put out of business an entire swath of America’s artisan wineries.”

This bill, if passed, will allow the wholesalers to be the sole group that decides what wine will be available to you in your local stores. More importantly, not only will it reduce your choice, it will put an end to the hundreds of small family owned wineries in California who make just a few hundred cases of some great wines. The wholesalers will only be buying wines that are produced in bulk with 100’s of thousands of cases available.

In most cases a bill like this would have little chance of getting through Congress. This one is different. The 111th Congress is coming to a close, Four key sponsors of the bill have been heavily supported by contributions from this group (read that as “payback time”). This bill is complicated and difficult to understand as written. It’s being packaged as a bill to stop minors from ordering wine to be delivered to their homes. It’s hard to believe a group of 16 or 17 year olds are sitting around concocting a plan to purchase a case of Scarecrow Cabernet at $3000 a case and arrange to have an adult on hand to sign for it on delivery as currently required by law.

Perhaps, most importantly, this bill, if passed, will effectively prohibit states from even going to court to fight the legality of the issue. The lobbyists have thought of every angle on this one. It’s a horrible bill that will reduce wine selection and put small wineries, not just in California but other major wine-producing states, out of business. Below is a letter from one such small wine producer stating her concerns on H.R. 5034:

I am a small producer of about 500 cases annually of estate-grown, Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon who does not have a tasting room, can’t get a distributor to even answer the phone because I am too small for them, and sells ONLY to those states where we can ship direct-to-consumer and direct-to-trade. This bill would essentially wipe us out completely. But not only that, 70% of the wineries in Napa Valley are considered “boutique” wineries (5,000 cases and under) and a significant portion of them would also be wiped out or severely be impacted financially (on top of an already harrowing past two years!). This bill is an outright power grab by the wholesalers who do not want to see wineries controlling their own destiny (and margins) by selling direct, ultimately bypassing the distributor who barely works for the 50% margin they demand. The winery not only pays the distributor that margin, but also pays for the marketing and selling costs to get the consumer to purchase in the first place. Wineries are looking to get some of their margins back, be able to interact with the consumer directly (data that is not typically provided by the distributor) and be able to control their own destiny, rather than be controlled by a broken three-tier system.

If this bill passes, then we will have one hell of a farewell party with dozens of small wineries in Napa Valley calling it quits! As they go, so goes the passion for artisanal winemaking….

One reason this bill actually has a chance of passing is that it’s not of much importance to a large majority of the populace. It’s not sexy, it doesn’t ban wine entirely, it’s just not something that a lot of people will feel the passion to oppose. If you do feel like me, and would like to make your position known, I offer the following draft of a letter for your Congressional representative. This draft was created by a concerned wine-lover on another blog:

  Copy and paste the following letter… (remember to include your Rep’s name):

RE: House Bill HR 5034: The Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act of 2010.

Dear Congressman/Congresswoman ______________;

I am writing to urge you to oppose HR 5034.

This is a piece of anti-consumer legislation.

It only serves the wine wholesalers and wine distributors.

It will not curtail abuse, reduce underage drinking or the social and financial cost stemming from those issues.

But it will strengthen the wine distributor’s and wholesalers’ restrictive control over consumer choice.

As a responsible wine lover, I want access to and choice in wines.

HR 5034 will result in PERMANENTLY limiting my access to and choice of wine.

Please, do not support HR 5034!



Thanks for your help!


Posted in Info on Wine, wine blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2009 by ballymote

09_12_63_thumbNo, that isn’t a typo. As hard as it may be to believe there really ARE some wine blogs better than this one. What makes them better? Well, for one thing they are much more comprehensive. For another, they have a more professional appearance; and finally, they are just more informative and cover the entire world of wine.

On this blog, I am trying to keep it local to the SOUTH JERSEY area with a few forays across the river into Philly. You can find reviews of local BYOBs and wine stores in the area. I would suggest you visit the blogs I mention here and see if the wide range of topics they cover may interest you. In no particular order, here are FIVE wine blogs that I think are very well done.

stock-photo-glass-and-bottle-of-wine-over-red-background-23482726The first is called VINOGRAPHY and this may have been the first wine blog ever created back in 2004. Alder Yarrow is the creator of Vinography and here, from his website, is how he describes the birth of his blog. “In late 2003, Vinography founder Alder Yarrow had become the guy that all his friends went to for advice. Thinking that there had to be a better way of answering his friends’ repeated questions about what wines he liked and his favorite restaurants, Alder typed the phrase “wine blog” into Google and got zero results. About three hours later he did the same for the made up word “vinography” and also got zero results. That was the proverbial first day of the rest of his life.”

In addition to all of the great articles available on Vinography there is also a free Aroma Card that helps you identify the flavors in a wine. Check this one out!

Believe it or not, wine blogs are rated for their popularity and a list of the Top 100 Wine Blogs  is published periodically.  The top spot on the wine blog list is being held by FERMENTATION. Tom Wark does a tremendous job of being entertaining as well as informative  and he is a prolific poster; a quality he sights as being essential to a successful blog. Give it a read and see what a #1 ranked blog is all about.

Another guy who does a great job in writing about wine while maintaining a great sense of humor is a local Philly guy named Joe Roberts. Joe is the wine expert behind the very entertaining blog titled 1 WINE DUDE.  On his blog he reviews wines while throwing in a few chuckles few of charge. He is a big fan of Twitter and uses the site to promote wine tastings among followers. For those interested in learning more about wine in a lesson format Joe offers his 1 Wine Dude Guide To Wine Tasting for $7.95 online or $10.95 in a printed format. If you want to have a few genuwine laughs while learning about the goodness of the grape I strongly recommend visiting 1 Wine Dude.

Tyler Colman is Dr. Vino; and having done his PhD dissertation on the political economy of the wine industry in France and the United States he has real claim to the title “DR.”. His blog, DR VINO has received numerous awards and was voted BEST WINE BLOG at the 2007 American Wine Blog Awards. He teaches wine classes at NYU and the University of Chicago and his latest book, A Year of Wine was recently published. There is a ton of informative writing on every aspect of the wine world available at his website so I strongly suggest you take two visits and call Dr. Vino in the morning.

The last blog site I will give is written by Deb Harkness, aka Dr. Debs, a Los Angeles professor who writes about and reviews low priced wines. Dr. Debs is passionate about her subject and her blog GOOD WINE UNDER $20 has won a great many awards for both writing and reviewing. This site is the perfect spot for novices to gain insight into inexpensive wines that are unique and representative of the plethora of great wines that won’t break your budget.

I have listed 5 Wine Blog sites that you might enjoy. There are many more and if you click on the TOP 100 Wine Blogs linked earlier in this post you can get to sample all of them and make you own decisions. Just make sure that you come back home to my SOUTH JERSEY WINE BLOG when you complete your internet travels!