DEAR ABBY'S AT IT AGAIN - Printable Version

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- Jerry D Mead - 01-05-1999 04:19 PM

The following is a letter to the editor of the Reno Gazette-Journal. I'm assuming the same item is running in her syndication everywhere, though every paper writes different headlines. Complain to your paper about the unfairness of the Abby story (and the headline if they did what Reno did. JDM)


"Dear Abby" and your headline writer need to do a little research. I refer to "Wine Country's 'dirty little secret' - too many tasters are drunk," and the Abby item below it which imply that wine tasting in Napa Valley is some kind of threat to public safety.

If either of them had bothered to check with the California Highway Patrol which has county by county statistics on dui arrests and alcohol-related accidents, they'd have discovered that not only does Napa County not have higher statistics on average in this regard, but actually lower than many urban and "cow" counties where tasting rooms are not a factor.

An interesting note on the very vocal anti-alcohol advocate, Abigail Van Buren, her family is one of the largest liquor wholesalers in the Midwest.

Jerry D. Mead
POBox 1598
Carson City, NV 89702
(775) 884-2648
E-mail: wine
Fax: 884-2484

- Bucko - 01-05-1999 09:22 PM

Jerry, Jerry, Jerry........ since when did telling the truth sell papers????????


- Doc Rock - 01-05-1999 11:17 PM


The banner in my local paper, The (Allentown, PA) Morning Call, read "Locals in wine country know they must drive with caution."

Innocuous enough, I suppose, to be bullet-proof from "rational" criticism. After all, who can argue with the idea that drivers ANYWHERE should drive with caution? But the implicit message - that the roadways in wine country are a particularly dangerous place to be - is offered with no evidence to support it, as you adeptly point out.

Reminds me of Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible" about the Salem witch trials where a mere accusation was sufficient to convict.

I guess we haven't learned much in the last 300 years.

- Ashby Lawson - 01-06-1999 01:46 AM

Doc, Did you happen to read the McPaper(USA Today) today? Seems some bill was introduced in the state legislature that would require a breath-alizer to be attached to cars. The slightest trace of alcohol would send the cars horn a-honckin'. What the heck's going on up there?

- Ashby Lawson - 01-06-1999 01:50 AM

Doc, Did you happen to read the McPaper(USA Today) today? Seems some bill was introduced in the Pa. legislature that would require a breath-alizer to be attached to cars. The slightest trace of alcohol would send the cars horn a-honckin'. What the heck's going on up there?

- Doc Rock - 01-06-1999 08:12 PM


I didn't pick up on that story. But, as a service to those unfamiliar with the way state government works in The Peoples' Republic of Pennsylvania, a brief primer.

The Way Legislation Gets Enacted In Harrisburg:

Step 1 The governor suggests a possible piece of legislation with scant details;

Step 2 Every senator and representative calls the governor's office to find out "what's in it for my district if I support the legislation?";

Step 3 Labor unions sing a "we want to take a careful look at how working people will be affected by this" song in unison;

Step 4 Lobbyists jockey for position and actually write the legislation;

Step 5 On the first try, the legislation doesn't make it out of committee;

Step 6 The legislation is re-written with provisions that alienate just about everyone;

Step 7 The legislation fails on a floor vote;

Step 8 The governor and legislators huddle, and craft a "compromise" bill which passes the house and senate;

Step 9 The bill reaches the governor's desk where it is vetoed because, for the first time, someone actually reads the bill and discovers it is full of ridiculous provisions that the legislators "didn't realize they were voting for";

Step 10 The legislature adjourns for another year with the governor and legislature promising to bring a new, improved bill up for consideration "next year."

FYI, there has been a bill introduced to privatize the state's liquor stores every year since at least 1985. None has ever even reached the floor of the house for a vote because things get bogged down at Step 2 above. By the year 2015 we might get to Step 3.


- Ashby Lawson - 01-07-1999 01:50 AM

Yeesh...its like watching sausage being made.

- Jerry D Mead - 01-13-1999 10:46 AM

I'm a bit surprised, but the Reno Gazette-Journal, to which I originally wrote the "Dear Abby" letter, actually printed it, unedited, on Monday last.

The thing about writing papers (media in general) to correct misconceptions about wine and other adult beverages is that even when they don't print them, you have educated the editorial page people to be more careful in future...and then sometimes they get printed. If "we" wrote half as many letters as the anti-alcohol fanatics, we'd put a stop to a lot of misinformation.


- EPICURUS - 01-14-1999 02:41 AM

Hats off JDM. You educated the editorial board and the public.

Where the hell do you get all the time to pursue the 100s of wine related issues that you do? Do you sleep at all? Wallace tells me that the answer is no.

The Lodi Woodbridge group established the Integrity Award and it rightfully went to Patrick Campbell, your columnist, and people tell me a vintner. Some other association ought to set up an award for the champion of causes benefitting the wine industry. Maybe Free the Grapes which has some sort of annual list of pro winers. Better yet, like the NWIWC, how about a Jerry Mead Award, custom designed in class or silver, given in your honor and in your spirit to some dragon slayer? I suppose though you have to kick the bucket first. So I guess we have to wait 30 years for such a trophy.

Your humble servant,


(EPICURIOUS was my original moniker over at AOL, but it was stolen by Conde Nast, forcing me to dispense with the play on words)

- amshih - 01-14-1999 09:12 AM

Here here, I second the Jerry Mead award concept!

JDM, can you suggest a systematic way to keep up with wine-related issues (and wine laws/legislation/politics in particular) so that more of us can do our part in helping the cause?

I think a big problem today is that people don't think critically (witness the types of rely on advice columns to run their lives!), but critical thinking requires education and information, and it doesn't lend itself very well to sound bites or slick headlines. Any methods that you can suggest to do the research and educate the public would be greatly helpful.


- Jerry D Mead - 01-14-1999 02:01 PM

RE the information one needs...stay tuned to this The Wine Trader magazine!

Re the idea of a JDM sponsored award for those exposing the bad guys (and maybe we could have a single digit award for bad guys,too)...not bad.

Come up with just the right title (and it might be better if my name were not attached...not everyone knows who I am, and you'd be looking for national press) and perhaps I can find a sponsor.


- Jerry D Mead - 01-14-1999 02:17 PM

Anna...I was a little flip with my answer to your question about keeping up with the political thing you can do is question any media story that sounds questionable, doesn't provide an authority (and then check up on it)and be especially on the look-out for euphemisims and double talk.

Example: Every holiday you get all this talk about alcohol-related accidents and fatalaties with numbers that are huge...the implication being that alchol CAUSED the accidents. That is not what alcohol-related means someone (often the victim or a passenger) involved in the accident had been drinking.

Which means that a driver who had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner and just pulled up at a stop sign, to be rear-ended by a non-drinking descendant of Carrie Nation, would still cause the accident to be reported statistically as alcohol-related, when alcohol had absolutely nothing to do with causing the accident.

Question! Question! Question! When the local MADD chapter or headline seeking D.A. goes before the media to talk about the sting that caught some poor winery shipping wine to a 16 year old (at daddy's instigation and using daddy's credit card) and what a threat interstate shipping is to minors...ask how many real instances (not stings) of minors receiving such shipments have been reported/prosecuted in your state. Guess what? There hasn't been one in any state in 30 years. How do I know? Because I've been challenging the anti-alcohol forces to produce one for about that long, and if they could they would.

The Wine Curmudgeon

- danberger - 01-20-1999 12:38 AM

You may or may not remember I had a story in the L.A. Times a few years back about MADD closing its Napa Valley chapter for lack of business, and the DUI unit of the Sheriff's Dept. being disbanded for lack of arrests. Lately, DUI stops have been increased in the Napa Valley, but arrests/citations/convictions are still the same: very, very low.
The reason for my story in the Times: 60 Minutes called me to get help in researching an expose on drunk driving in the Napa Valley. The producer of the proposed episode was at a brick wall. No story, she said. Eventually, 60 Minutes killed the piece.

- Jerry D Mead - 01-20-1999 04:53 AM

Dan...I do remember...I think it's where I first got the statistical information that that Napa DUI numbers are no higher than those of counties without tasting rooms.