Subject: [PV-Friends] February newsletter
Date: 2/2/2012 9:50 AM

Perennial Vintners In this issue:
 ▪ Open Winery - Valentine's Day wknd (11,12-Feb)
 ▪ Other open days
 ▪ Vineyard - pruning
Newsletter -- January-2012  ▪ Recipes - Seafood stew, potatoes, kale
(Click here to view in HTML on website)
 ▪ In the winery - racking  ▪ Legislative bill HB 1641

(Click on any image below to go to website with more information/larger image/etc.)

Open Winery - Valentine's Day wknd (11,12-Feb)
Valentine's Day is a very special open day at PV.  This year we'll have Keith Jackson of Yukon Jackson's chocolates at the winery!  Keith will be selling his special dark truffle chocolate made with PV Frambelle raspberry dessert wine -- it's the best!  He'll also have many of his other chocolates for sale and tasting, don't miss out!

The weather forecast is looking very nice for the weekend, and pruning will be going on in the vineyards, so it will be very scenic.

Please note that all of the Winery Alliance of Bainbridge Island wineries will be open as well, both days that weekend.  It's (two weekends hence), 11th and 12th of February.  We'll be open 11am 'til 5pm, the other wineries open at noon.

Other open days
Beginning this weekend, PV will be open most weekends.  Whenever I can, I'll be at the winery on weekends and will put the open signs out on the highway from 11am-5pm.  Please stop in if you see the signs out!  Chances are there won't be many other visitors, so you'll typically get one-on-one time with the winemaker!

Vineyard - pruning
It's that time of year again -- pruning!  I've done some rough calculations and I estimate I have about 40 half-days of work that must be done between now and the end of March.  That means that I can work in the winery to avoid working in the rain, but only for less than a third of the remaining days...

This work is really the most important part of the entire process of making wine -- you can't truly understand what wine is until you have done winter pruning.  We have to cut off most of last years wood - it's a lot of work, but it gives us a stronger plant and a riper crop with better flavors.

If you're growing grape plants in your backyard, or are just plain really interested in wine, I'd encourage you to come out for a few hours to help out, and learn about how these tasks are done.  This process is essential for keeping your plants under control, and for maximizing crop -- join our helpers email list for announcements about when we're out working.
Recipes - Seafood stew, potatoes, kale
Our Executive Chef Andrew MacMillan prepared a fabulous hearty winter meal for a recent bottling.  The recipes are now on the website recipes page.

In the winery - racking 
This time of year is when we catch up...  I've had the issue of having all my tanks full this year, so have had no way to rack wine (moving from one tank to another to clarify).  Now that we've bottled the 2011 Frambelle, I have tank space thus can finally rack!  If you're interested seeing winemaking, this is not exactly the romantic part -- it's cleaning stuff, watching the pump work, and more cleaning -- you're welcome to come out and learn though.  I expect to finish this early next week, so email me and we'll schedule it up if anyone is interested.

Legislative bill HB 1641
Bill HB 1641 is before the legislature, and it will affect small wineries in the state.  I know this is asking a lot, but I hope you can make a few minutes to at least go through the "Analysis" (only 3 pages).  You can then click on the "Find your legislator" link on the top left of the page and send them comments if you have any.
WA state legislative bill HB 1641 at website

From my understanding, the intent of this bill is to distinguish actual wine producers (those who ferment grapes/fruit into wine) from those who simply resell wine that was made by others.  (In France the latter has the noble name of "negociant"; in the U.S. it's referred to as a "Virtual Winery".)  Note however, that as written, this bill would also disallow a winery from blending wine produced outside of a WA state AVA.

Wine production happens in the following stages:
    1) growing grapes
    2) fermenting wine
    3) (optional) blending wine, possibly from other geographical areas
    4) storing/bottling
    5) labeling
    6) selling
An "Estate" winery begins at stage 1 (this is a legal definition).  A "Negociant" typically takes over at stage 3.  A "Virtual Winery" may start at stage 5 or 6.  I will refer to those starting at 1 or 2 as "Producers".

If you have visited PV in the past, you know that we are extremely proud of the fact that as much as possible, we grow our own grapes, and that we ferment our own wine.  There are many wineries that do neither of these activities, they simply put their own label on wine made by other wineries.  In some cases they simply have the producing winery apply the Virtual Wineries label, then distribute the wine -- the Virtual Winery literally never even touches their own product.  Although some people find this practice to be despicable, I don't -- as long as the product is labeled such that the consumer can tell the difference.

The existing license allows any of these activities to be a winery.  The new bill will replace this with two separate licenses, one for Producers, and a different license for the others.  Unfortunately it also introduces wording that limits those non-producers by specifying that only WA state AVA wine may be used for their product.  Not only does this bar out-of-state wine from being used, but it also disallows wines from in-state that simply do not happen to be within an established AVA -- this is a fundamental flaw.

It also stipulates that to be a Producer, the winery must make at least 200 gallons per year.  I assume this is to ensure that a non-Producer cannot simply have a 5 gallon amateur production carboy in a coat closet somewhere so as to make the claim that they are a Producer.

At PV we strongly believe that making the distinction between Producers and non-Producers, is a fundamentally Good Thing.  We also believe that blending out-of-state wine into wine is a reasonable practice provided that the bottle is labeled appropriately.  The existing laws already mandate this labeling.  We also feel that holding a Producer to a minimum of 200 gallons is reasonable.  (Even when tiny PV started we were at more than 200 gals.)

The feedback I will be providing is to thank them for tackling the issue of "virtual wineries", but that this is a licensing/labeling issue, not a production issue.  The bill should be enacted only if it is changed to not limit what the winemaker can do.  The bill should only enforce truth-in-labeling and honesty./integrity.

Thanks for reading all the way to this!