Wine- Iowa Wine, is a lower drinking age far behind?
by dhonig, Mon May 05, 2008 at 11:15:04 AM EDT
What can wine tell us about the world? Plenty, it turns out. It is one of civilization's oldest products. At one time it was a necessity, when food was served rotten and water was where you washed and evacuated. Now it is enjoying a resurgence. It is an agricultural product, and a unique one. You see, vineyards have kept records of temperature, yield, and ripeness-dates for centuries, giving us incredibly precise records that tell us reams about the global environment. It is also a luxury item, particularly at the top end. As such, its sale and purchase can tell us volumes about the global economy.
Today we look at Iowa, wine, and the "first in the nation" caucus.
From Wines and Vines:
Iowa Growers Formalize Association
Grapegrowers in northwestern Iowa, who have been meeting monthly for the past five years, decided in April to formalize the arrangement by founding the Northwest Iowa Grape Growers Association.
According to Wines & Vines' 2008 Annual Directory, Iowa currently has about 40 bonded wineries. Five separate wine trails are active within the state: Amana Colonies, Heart of Iowa, Scenic Rivers, Western Iowa and the Iowa Wine Trail.
For people who love wine, this has to be great news. Expect to see a lower drinking age across the nation, as Presidential wanna-bes propose legislation that mandates lower ages as a condition of receiving highway funds. You can also expect a reversal of existing wine-shipping laws, allowing out of state wineries to ship to anyone, anywhere. That is the sort of thing that happens once something gets Iowa's attention.
Iowa, you see, is very proud of its status as First in the Nation for its Presidential Caucus. Unfortunately for the environment, the economy, and heck, the rest of the nation and perhaps the rest of the world, it is more than just a matter of civic pride. It is also a matter of perverse politics trumping intelligent policy.
I have written previously about the absurdity of corn ethanol, perhaps the single most inefficient form of mass-produced energy in modern history. It takes more than a calorie to create a calorie's worth of ethanol. In addition, wheat land is being planted with corn to make corn based ethanol, driving the price of wheat through the ceiling. Corn is being turned into fuel instead of food. People are starving. People in Haiti are eating dirt. But we keep making ethanol.
Heck, they're not even subtle about it. Look at this website. It unashamedly links Iowa's "First in the Nation" caucus status to its "First in the Nation" in ethanol production nationwide, including:
Iowa has 29 ethanol plants in operation, producing approximately 1.98 billion gallons per year. Eight of those plants are currently expanding capacity. And 10 new ethanol plants are under construction.
All of this, of course, is tied directly to Iowa's status as "First in the Nation":
Iowa, whose first-in-the-nation caucus is vital for politicians who want to be president, has reaped a windfall of federal spending in recent years, collecting billions of dollars in subsidies for ethanol production and a disproportionate share of federal funding, according to a review of government records.
Meanwhile, a new study on ethanol production by the Cato Institute says that Iowa gets a $2 billion benefit annually as a result of subsidies and trade barriers for the fuel, which is made from corn, Iowa's largest crop.
John McCain used to hate ethanol. Not anymore:
McCain has argued that government support for ethanol actually raises gasoline prices. He has claimed ethanol does nothing to make the U.S. more energy independent. He has even questioned the science behind making fuel from corn - contending that ethanol provides less energy than the fossil fuels consumed to produce it.
In a flip-flop so absurd it'll be a wonder if it doesn't get lampooned by late-night comedians - not to mention opponents' negative ads - McCain is now proclaiming himself a "strong" ethanol supporter.
"I support ethanol and I think it is a vital, a vital alternative energy source not only because of our dependency on foreign oil but its greenhouse gas reduction effects," he said in an August speech in Grinnell, Iowa, as reported by the Associated Press.
Barack Obama even attacked Clinton in Iowa over her less than enthusiastic support for ethanol:
"It's hard to believe that she is a strong ethanol supporter given her track record and this is something that represents a major reversal and what we need is consistency on these issues," he told the newspaper. "If she's willing to shift this quickly on this issue, we don't know whether she will shift back when it gets hard."
The Register's interview comes as Obama is starting a six-day visit to the state leading up to this weekend's Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Des Moines. He appears this evening in Cedar Rapids, before starting a campaign swing Wednesday morning through southeast Iowa.
The New York senator has in the past defended votes against ethanol, saying she feared various measures involving the fuel could have spiked energy costs.
From the Washington Post:
One of the sharpest substantive divides is over ethanol, an issue of particular potency in Iowa. The vote in question was an effort to block a proposed amendment to the 2005 energy bill that would have established an ethanol mandate for refineries. "If there were ever an onerous, anti-competitive, anti-free-market provision, this is it," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who led the effort and who warned that non-farming states could face spikes in gasoline prices because of supply limitations. Clinton at the time was campaigning for reelection and was one of 28 senators to support her colleague's failed bid.
But hey, this isn't about corn. It's about wine. Isn't it?
Oh yeah, sorry. I got distracted.
Iowa has wineries and wine trails. Pro-wine legislation should not be far behind.
Bacchus for President
And now, the best review I could find anywhere for an Iowa wine (I do not vouch for it, not having tried it myself. I can tell you this review seems quite, well, enthusiastic, given others I have read, but what the heck, try it an let me know how it was):
2005 Park Farm Winery Chambourcin Vintner's Reserve (USA, Iowa)
Remarkably similar to a Pinot Noir. Translucent ruby color. Some smoke and cedar on the nose, along with ripe red berry and a bit of rose petal. Not a sophisticated wine to mull over, but extremely quaffable. Lacks finish, but the lush berry flavor, smooth mouthfeel and respectable structure make this a winner.