Two Buck Upchuck
In a decision that came as a shock to absolutely no one except possibly Fred Franzia, maverick winemaker and mastermind behind the $1.99 Charles Shaw label–popularly known as “Two Buck Chuck”–the state appeals court in Sacramento ruled that the wine may not use the word “Napa” on the label unless at least 75 percent of the grapes in it come from Napa County. The decision pleased Linda Reiff, executive director for the Napa Valley Vintners Association, which represents the region’s winemakers. “Our mission is basic, but important: if it says Napa on the label, it better be Napa in the bottle,” she says. “It’s been a long haul, but this decision is confirmation we’re on the right path. Three times in a row the courts have supported truth in labeling and protected consumers.”
Growers Go GMO
The Sonoma County Grape Growers Association has joined a coalition of ag-related organizations that are opposing a November ballot measure that seeks to ban genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the county. Organizations opposing the ban now include the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, the United Winegrowers of Sonoma County, the Sonoma-Marin Cattlemen and Cattlewomen associations and the Western United Dairymen, all of which have united beneath a single umbrella organization called the Family Farmers Alliance. However, the appearance of unanimity among family farmers propagated by the alliance is an illusion, says Daniel Solnit, campaign coordinator for GE-Free Sonoma County. “I can guarantee you none of those organizations have polled their members to see how they individually feel about GMOs,” Solnit says. “The truth is, farmers are divided on the issue.” Just how divided will be determined on Nov. 7.
The retrofit of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, scheduled to be completed in May, has been extended through August, the California Department of Transportation said last week. The delay is just the latest snafu in a project that, according to a state Legislative Analysts Office report released in March, has seen cost estimates rise 178 percent, from $329 million to $914 million, between 1997 and 2004.
–R. V. Scheide
From the June 1-7, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.