Nancy Pelosi, Right Wingers and a Bad Understanding of Napa
With the prospect prior to the last election and confirmation afterward that Representative Nancy Pelosi would be come Speaker of the House of Representatives, lots of attention is now being paid to the congresswoman from San Francisco. It turns out that much of that attention has been turned to the fact that Speaker Pelosi and her husband Paul own a vineyard in Napa.
But not just that she owns a vineyard. The folks writing on Right Wing blogs, for Right Wing Internet publications and those who comment on Right Wing blogs are fascinated by the report that Pelosi’s small vineyard holdings apparently employ non-union labor. The Speaker’s long defense of labor has spawned many to call her out on charges of "Hypocrisy". These charges can be found Here, Here, Here and Here.
I’m not so concerned about this. If you can find a politician anywhere who can’t be charged in some small way with hypocrisy then you’ve probably found a dead politician.
What interests me about these writings is the way the writers and commentors tackle the wine industry in general. Specifically, I find THIS story that delves in deep to the finances of vineyards to come up with the conclusions that, among other things, Napa Grapegrower Andy Beckstoffer wants his Napa grapes to go into $10 and under wines, that Pelosi treats workers so bad they all quit and that it’s possible Pelosi is laundering money through her vineyard.
Interestingly, the writer’s source for this and other nonsense is identified only as "Our knowledgeable Napa Valley source."
I have to quote from this story…just because it’s so damn funny:
The congresswoman’s total planted grape acreage equals 9 acres x
$13,500 income per acre of highest quality grapes = $121,500 total
gross grape income for the two properties.
"More curiously however, our California wine country source revealed
that “the AVERAGE cabernet price, however, is only $1,850 per ton x 4.5
acres x 9 acres = $75,000 total gross income for the Pelosi grapes from
average quality fruit. So as you can see, the congresswoman may have
some explaining to do about who buys their grapes and why they may be
getting such an extraordinary price for them.”
"We were also told that “her vineyards are ’postage stamp’ sized and
basically ‘irrelevant’ to the industry — small, nuisance-sized parcels
that at best are difficult to contract with any winery, and are in
areas not known to produce quality fruit within the Oakville district.
It is marginal land, which is why it was not planted historically.”
"The Napa source told us that “the biggest grape grower on Skellenger
Lane [where one of the Pelosi vineyards is located] is Andy Beckstoffer
— and he likes to price his grapes to sell in a $10 per bottle of
wine, for goodness sake. This is hardly an indication of extraordinary
grape quality!” [suggesting that Pelosi’s Skellenger fruit is average
actual approximate “wine-grape income” is between $75,000 for average
fruit and $121,500 for top-line fruit, given their reported planted
acreage, and provided their fruit is of average quality — if less than
average quality, then income is even lower, suggesting that there is
need of an explanation unless they show significant rental income from
the vineyard properties. If Pelosi’s tax return shows more that
$200,002 income for the two vineyards, then there may be a significant
You’ve got someone speculating on why in the world Pelosi could sell her grapes, farmed in the MIDDLE OF NAPA VALLEY, for more than $1,850 per ton, then concluding that there "may be a significant problem" with what Pelosi has reported as income. Anyone want to offer me some Oakville appellation Cabernet for $1,850 per ton? PLEASE!!!
Pelosi and her husband Paul recently sold their acreage on Skellenger Lane in Napa, but still own property on Zinfandel Lane in the middle of Napa. The property is described has having vineyards and residences. In reading the conspiracy theorists who tend to comment on the Right Wing writers’ stories there is some speculation on where the vineyard is actually located, who buys the grapes and even what the name of the winery is. Though the Pelosis have apparently gotten a permit to build a 5000 gallon winery the property on Zinfnadel Lane, it do not believe it is completed, up and running or even under construction.
There is no specific information on th Internet as to which piece of property on Zinfandel Lane is actually owned by the Pelosi’s. However, I think I determined which it was by using the handy dandy Google search tool, Google satellite imagery and little common sense. I suppose I could have done the research down at the planning department in Napa, but that’s not nearly as fun.
First, it appears that Liparita Winery in Napa has purchase the fruit from Pelosi’s vineyard. Also, it appears that Jack Neal and Sons does the farming. The vineyard, if I am correct about its location, is in close proximity to vineyards owned by Heitz, Frogs Leap and Quintessa. This is hardly bad grape ground.
I suspect that over the next two years we will continue to hear a great deal about the "vineyard baroness" slash Speaker of the House. I suspect the issue of union labor will continue to arise. That’s fine. That’s politics. However, it would be nice if those doing their best to do some smearing of Pelosi would get their facts straight about the wine industry and grape growing.