Thursday, October 25, 2012

Voter's Guide to the 2012 Wine Propositions

Though it’s rarely mentioned, and there doesn’t seem to be much coverage in the media, we have an election coming up the first Tuesday in November. As a well-informed voter, I know there is a black guy and a white guy running for an important office against each other. But that’s not the part of the election that matters. Hell, it’s like boxing, always bet the black guy over the white guy, it’s mostly fixed anyway. I think I also heard that one of them is a Mormon. Pretty sure it’s the white guy. Must be, black Mormons are like most sommeliers—they have the title, but they’re mostly just there to clean up and lock the doors. So just ignore that race, and focus on what really matters in the upcoming election. Propositions.

At least here in California, there are a lot of important propositions that will decide the future of wine. I know that thousands of people depend on the HoseMaster of Wine™ for guidance in all things pertaining to the industry, so I’m providing my recommendations for how every wine lover should vote in this upcoming election. If you’re still confused after reading my list, just mail me your ballot. I’ll shred it faster than a Florida Republican.

VOTE YES on Proposition 97

Prop 97 would create a “luxury tax” on overpriced wines that would be re-distributed among wineries charging reasonable prices for their wines. For example, a Napa Valley Cabernet selling for $195 would be required to pay a 20% luxury tax of $39 on each bottle sold. $195 is a stupid price for a bottle of wine considering the same money could feed a family of six for a week, or be better spent gambling on cock fights. A Russian River Pinot Noir selling for $150 would also be required to pay a $30 luxury tax. And so on. The accumulated taxes would be divided among struggling wineries charging fair prices for their wines as an incentive to keep wine prices down. The proposition also creates a fund to treat the mental health of those who purchased the overpriced wines. An independent panel of experts will be assembled to decide where the “overpriced” ceiling is for each category of wine. So, as an example of fairness, at $15, any bottle of California Sangiovese would qualify as overpriced. And every damned Dessert Wine at any price.

VOTE NO on Proposition 99

Proposition 99 would allow wineries to name their proprietary wines after diseases. This is a terrible idea, of course, but one that the big corporate wineries are eager to capitalize on. K-J has already trademarked “Bulimia—The Wine That Tastes Just As Good the Second Time.” We don’t need that. There was a test brand from the Sierra Foothills called “Petite Psoriasis” that had a peel-off label. Seems rather tacky. And do we really need “Syphillis” in a screw top? You can see the marketing appeal for the wineries though. “Give your significant other a case of Sterling ‘Gonorrhea.’” That would move the sales needle, if not the hypodermic. But the next thing you know other countries will follow suit and we’ll suffer the nightmare that would be Soave "Ebola." For the love of God, vote No on 99.

VOTE YES on Proposition A

Proposition A would ban the use of French in all marketing materials. French is the source for all the wine vocabulary that is stupid, illogical, and inexplicable. Use of the word “terroir” would be punishable by a hefty fine, as well as mandatory attendance at a Jim Clendenen winemaker dinner (though the Supreme Court may rule that is cruel and unusual punishment). “Cru” would also be banned, except for rapper winemakers. A Pinot Noir producer who used the word “Burgundian” would be beaten senseless and forced to wear Jean-Charles Boisset’s hand-me-downs to leather bars. It’s about time these stupid, misleading French words were made illegal. “Methode Champenoise” always sounds like a fancy brand of douche to me anyway, so let’s just get rid of it. I’d like to see the law go even further and ban terms that are related to French wines, even ones in English. Crap like “First Growth.” Sounds like the results of your colonoscopy anyway. But, really, if we can just ban “terroir” we’ve made the wine world a much better place. I’ve never known a quality human to use it, only marketing people. You must vote Yes on Prop A.

VOTE YES on Proposition 18

Prop 18 would force wine competitions to award Gold Medals that are actually made of 24K gold. Opponents say that this will raise entry fees for wineries that want to enter competitions, while advocates argue that it will stop the obscene proliferation of Gold Medals. Both are desirable results. Silver medals will remain worthless, and Bronze medals will be eliminated in favor of valuable parting gifts. "Our 2009 Zinfandel was awarded American Tourister luggage!" Fewer entries, a result of necessarily higher entry fees,  will mean the mostly senior citizen wine judges will actually be able to stay awake. Meanwhile, competition organizers will put pressure on the old farts to give fewer valuable medals, resulting in Gold Medal wines that are actually worth buying. Imagine that.

VOTE YES on Proposition L

Proposition L seeks to make it illegal for sommeliers (a word that would be banned if Prop A passes—let’s just call them what they really are, Cork Presenters) to make and sell their own wine. The marketplace is flooded with wine made by real celebrities, it doesn’t need wine made by fake ones. Sommeliers should be limited to doing what it is they do best—making winemakers squirm with their idiotic opinions. This is valuable work, and shouldn’t be undervalued. But sommeliers making their own wine is like gardeners making their own manure—fine in the privacy of their own home, but I don’t want to have to smell it. Be brave and stand up for your convictions. Don’t be a No L Coward.


Mockingbird said...


You left out Prop 15.9 ABV

Daniel said...

terroir, it's such a great concept that doesn't translate, but everytime you say you sound like a pompous douche bag.

hey, i got terroir on my shoes. that crap won't wash off.

can we also ban the word 'stelvin'? i know that's the brand, but was that the best name they could come up with? please tell me it was named after two guys called steve and melvin.


Jack Stems said...

I've had the Sierra Foothills “Petite Psoriasis”. Heavy on the tar.

What would double gold medals be made of ?

Kathy said...

Prop 18...I am sure I read this in the ballot John Tuteur sent out. Old fart judges (who must be older than the winery - mostly good in California but eliminates European wineries which will inspire the EU to spend its last cash on alcohol) will receive gold bars...which is where they spend most of their time in leather.
The equal pay for equal wine initiative (I forgot the #), means a bonus to companies sourcing grapes from Fresno and Madera. Read the ballot and check the SuperCalifragilisticexpialidocious PAC donations.
I heard Danny Brager will present the election results in the Nielsen/WIne Market Council slide show in January. Eliminates hanging chards.
Vote now. Who knows if a World Series hangover will keep you from the polls.

Anonymous said...

The reasoning behind Proposition A is all wrong. What's wrong with French terms? Nothing.

It is the French wine that is the problem. You can't find any California wine in France so why should we allow stinking French wine in California? It is all thin gruel and smells like merde anyway.

Xenophobic Daddy said...

Oops,the above got away from me. Must be the fumes from the Pouilly Fume.

Should have been signed.

Kathy said... can find Wente at any Intermarché.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

It's actually Prop 16.5 ABV, which is confusing to voters. But vote No. It's about raisin taxes.

Terroir is a concept like Beauty. Everyone has a different opinion about what it is, and they all sound stupid. Like so much fake marketing crap in the wine business, it's French in origin.

Steve and Melvin! Perfect.

48K Gold, obviously.

"Hanging chards" is very nice. Solid Gold star for you.

Hey, I'm one of those old fart judges! And I don't where leather to bars. Those are Naugahyde pants. It's like they have built-in Whoopee cushions!

Xeno, Warrior Daddy,
You may be on to something here. Ban all immigrant wines from Caifornia! Might have to get that initiative on the next ballot. Should be easy with the next President being either Mormon or Kenyan.

Wente isn't California wine, it's from Livermore.

Thomas said...

This is one party I cannot join, with me living in the great state of New York, where the State Fair sells Mondavi wine and we do not allow ballot initiatives, for fear that the people might actually have something to say about the way things go.

I envy Left Coasties for their ability to have a say in the most important matters facing the wine industry, but I wonder if anyone has considered the volume of voter fraud going on in California. I have it on good authority that people who can't even spell "proposition" have been allowed to pick one to vote for or against. It's a true tragedy that will one day take down the whole wine industry--well, maybe just the one in Livermore.

Kathy said... wine country.
Thomas, most Californians I know are from NY. You can probably vote absentee.
Thanks for gold star, Ron. Another star to you, too.

Thomas said...


That'll work. I can't proparly spell propasition, or even Livamor.

Do I need an i.d. card to get a ballot?

Wines for the People said...

Yes on 97! Yes on A! Yes on 18!
But especially Yes on 97!
What will I do with my sudden windfall if it passes?

Marcia Macomber said...

Favorite line among hundreds: "Don’t be a No L Coward!"

I didn't know wines could proposition one another... Learn something new every day.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Wines for Peeps,
I just kept thinking about how Major League Baseball has a revenue sharing deal and how that could work for California wineries. It would either help small wineries, or, at the very least, bring down prices on all the extraordinarily overpriced wines out there.

Maybe with your windfall you could buy yourself a concrete egg. Or several concrete eggs for a concrete omelet.

Sure they can proposition each other, though, to practice safe sex, they need to be in screwcaps.

Susie said...

I've always wanted to add additional fees on our distributor invoices such as
"small winery guaranteed profit fee",
"ridiculously expensive waste water treatment recovery fee",
"French Oak Euro currency inflation fee" etc - kind of like the hotels and airlines do now.

FOB would stay the same but we'd actually recover our costs on the product

The over-priced redistribution penalty would save me the trouble - I'm voting YES.

gabe said...

maybe we can take prop L a step further, and say that you can't "make" a wine unless you actually know how to make wine

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I get as much enjoyment out of beautifully made, fairly priced wines as I do from crazy, stupid expensive wines. About time we made the 1% of wineries help pay for the wines people actually enjoy! I'd ask you what winery you own, but if you'd want that known, you would have made it known. Thanks for chiming in.

One step at a time. First we get rid of sommeliers making wine, then we go after all the other amateurs. Is there an incompetent wine writer making wines? That's probably next.

PaulG said...

How about voting for Prop Peller - a ban on flying winemakers.

PaulG said...

"Is there an incompetent wine writer making wines? That's probably next." Be careful what you ask for!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Whenever I hear the term "flying winemakers" I think of the monkeys in "The Wizard of Oz."

The wine writer scenario scares me. I imagine Verdicchio in a Tim Fish bottle. Yikes.

Xenophobic Daddy said...


I never buy wine at Intermarche. That would be like buying wine at Safeway or Krogers.

A few years ago, my wife and I went to a fancy Parisian restaurant for our 25h anniversary. Upon learning that we were from California and that I was a writer about wine, the sommelier proudly trotted out the California wine on his list. It had been there for twelve years.

Now, don't get me wrong. I can see no reason to go to France to drink CA wine. But, I also see no reason why restaurants in San Francisco claim that there are no CA wines that go with their Vietnamese or Cal-Med or whatever cuisines. It is reverse snobbery, and thus my tongue-in-cheek Proposition to ban French wines here.

Francly Speaking said...

I strongly support Yes on No!

Jack Stems said...

What kind of bottle would you put Sagrantino made by a wine writer?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

There is a small addendum to Prop L that is hidden in the misleading language that would ban Gruner Veltliner from Slanted Door restaurant, if that makes you feel better.

Francly John,
Sadly, the No! on Yes people are outspending you. It always pays to run a negative campaign.

Jack Stems,
Oh, probably a one Galloni jug.

Dean Tudor said...

Given all the comments here, there are some really passionate voters...Hope that augers well for Nov 6, which is NOT a national holiday up here in Canada.

I expect a deluge of refugees to Canada on Nov 7 if the all-white guy wins...

Ed Wilson said...

Take that, Blinky Gray!


Ron Washam, HMW said...

I just cast my ballot by mail, and the Propositions were every bit as dumb as mine listed here.

I have been hearing from a lot of winemakers who love my Prop 98. I think it could fly. Imagine Screaming Eagle's luxury tax alone! It would save a lot of small wineries about to go under.

Thomas Peterffy said...

Nice. Prop 98 = Redistribution of wealth.

Dean Tudor said...

I thought it was Prop 97

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Damned Prop inflation. 97's aren't what they used to be. Probably be Prop 100 by election day.