Monday, September 15, 2008

Esquimalt Rules on Chickens to Change Soon

There is a report in the Victoria News that Esquimalt is about to change the regulations and allow up to four chickens per residential property.

I am glad to see this is moving along and hopefully everything will be in place for next spring so that people can get into backyard chickens.

My birds are doing well - about six eggs a day at the moment.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

B.C. wineries told not to ship wines across provincial lines

There are stupid rules in this country dating from times long before most of us were born. I can not believe that this is an issue and that anyone is being allowed to spend time on this!


Gordon Hamilton , Canwest News Service

Published: Tuesday, September 09, 2008

VANCOUVER - Authorities have clamped down on out-of province sales by British Columbia wineries to private customers, closing the door to a growing market niche for the province's popular wines.

The get-tough policy comes from the Manitoba and Ontario liquor control boards in response to wineries shipping directly to customers in those provinces.

Manitoba contacted the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, prompting it to warn wineries that they must obey the 1928 Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act.

Out-of-province sales to most provinces are illegal under the federal prohibition-era law. But sporadic enforcement and growing cross-country interest in wines from this province has tempted many wineries to ignore the antiquated law to satisfy customer demand.

It's the small, limited production wines that will be most impacted by the crackdown. Unless customers can drive to the winery, buying by phone or off the website is the only way to obtain the wine, said Scott Fraser, chairman of the B.C. Wine Institute. Because customers pay for shipping, it often costs them extra to get the highest-demand wines.

"Very often, it's our best products that are going out that way but in terms of total production or sales, it's a very small amount."

Fraser, who is with the Andrew Peller wine group, said one of the wineries in the company portfolio, Red Rooster, received a warning from Manitoba.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario sent the second warning to Mission Hill Family Estate Winery.

Both wineries have stopped the private sales and Mission Hill has added a note to its website alerting customers to the restrictions.

But winemakers are unhappy that they are being denied access to the private-sales market. They can ship wine to customers in New York, but not in Ontario, said Mission Hill winery president Dan Zepponi.

The wine institute's board of directors is to raise the out-of-province ban at its board meeting later this week and the Canadian Vintners Association has mounted a lobby against the ban.

"It's a bit of a hot potato right now," said Shaun Everest, chair of the wine institute's marketing committee. "Our wines are growing in popularity and in demand. Making it less available for our customers is a step backwards.

"We would like people to be able to enjoy our wines right across the country," Everest said.

Other wineries are ending their out-of-province sales in response to the crackdown, he said.

"It's a winery-by-winery decision. I can't speak for everybody on how they plan to do it."

Everest, who is also chief financial officer at Tinhorn Creek, said a small percentage of sales are to out-of-province private customers. He said 15 to 20 per cent of the winery's sales are to out-of-province liquor control boards.

B.C. wine has grown to a $150-million-a-year business, but most of it is consumed within the province. By comparison, sales to the country's largest wine retailer, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, amounted to $8.8 million last year.

LCBO spokesman Chris Layton said the board is obligated to ensure the law is obeyed.

"Whatever you think of a particular law, so be it. But as a government agency, we are required to remind our suppliers of the need to obey the law."

B.C. wine expert John Schreiner said the ban on interprovincial exports was originally to appease temperance movements. But today, he said, it's all about money.

Depending on the province, markups in provincial liquor stores can range from 50 per cent to 120 per cent, he said. Although the volume being shipped directly to private customers is small, Schreiner said liquor boards are getting nervous because of the growth both of the B.C. industry and of direct sales through websites.

"Liquor boards are getting a bit antsy because if the volume becomes substantial, they wouldn't be collecting their markups."

Under the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, violators are subject to fines from $200 to $1,000 for the first two offences. After that, its imprisonment for six months to a year.

The act was passed after most provinces abandoned prohibition in the 1920s. Provincial liquor control boards, which were established to control liquor sales, enforce the act.

A Blended Scotch that I Like!?!

Last night I went out to get some beer and I also wanted to look at some scotch. One of the private liquor stores in the neighbourhood has a very good selection of wine and scotch, which is surprising as it is in a strip mall in a less affluent neighbourhood and makes no pretensions to being anything fancier.

I was looking at what was available, I could not find Lagavulin or regular Laphroig. I was looking at a wall of scotch and did not know how I would choose. The last bottle of scotch I bought was an insipid nothing, it was bland and mild. I was really worried I might make the same mistake until I saw a bottle with the name The Peat Monster. The peat is right there in the name. so I bought it even though it is a blend.

Blends can be very nice to drink but ultimately they are all rather 'safe', the grain whisky evens them out. The Peat Monster is a blend and the colour is very light - this worried me imensely. I was also worried that this was part of that trend in wines where the names are provacative and trying to kick the stuffing out of pretension. I felt I was taking a huge risk with the only thing reducing my fear being the fact that I was buying their last bottle.

I had a glass last night and it was heavenly - the Monster delivers and does so big time. The seaside iodine smell hits you the moment you bring it close to your nose. The deep peaty flavour fills your mouth. The drink goes down smoothly and clean, no rough kicking you in the gut. The Peat Monster is making me want to try the major sources in the blend - Ardmore and Caol Ila. Should I be able to get another bottle, I know what I am going to give my brother Nik for Christmas.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Church and State Releases for 2008

2008 Releases!

We have done our last release of the 2008 wines. Of special note, is the release of our 2005 Quintessential. This is an "honest" blend of the five Bordeaux varietals. We use the word honest in the sense there are very few Meritage or Bordeaux blends comprising the five classic Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot. This wine has already received a Double Gold - Best in Class honour in California and has been described by Anthony Gismondi as follows:

"Quintessential is a mix of all five Bordeaux varieties in this case assembled by wine maker Bill Dyer. We had our first brief glimpse in May and will reserve final judgement until we have tried it again. It has all the Dyer hallmarks. Ripe round and elegant with fine acidity and freshness. Liquorice and black fruit with a touch of smoke and oak carry the current palate. Looks to have fine potential in the years to come. A fine start."

We were also "very very" pleased to have been informed that Church & State Winery has been short-listed for National and International Winery of the year by the London England International Wine & Spirit Competition. There were only 2 Gold medals awarded to red wines from Canada and we are proud to say Church & State Wines won both; a Gold Medal for the 2006 Church & State Syrah, which we have not released and a Double Gold- Best in Class for the 2006 Coyote Bowl Syrah. The judges described this Syrah as follows:

"Dense and dark wine. Aromas leaped out of the glass in waves of blueberries, vanilla and mint with a sprinkle of white pepper. Well integrated toasty oak, supple tannins, backed with vibrant acidity. The palate was concentrated with flavours of cherries, blueberries, cinnamon and cream mingled with aniseed. A lingering essence of jasmine finished off this an elegant and beautiful example." Judges at the International Wine & Spirit Competition. 90.8pts

Both the 2006 C&S Syrah and the 2005 Quintessential are available direct through the winery and online. We do not expect these wines to last long.

Feel free to call or stop by the winery if there is anything we can do. Cheers!

Church & State Wines

Monday, September 1, 2008

Eggs for August

While they might lay another two eggs today, I thought I would post what they had managed to lay this month - 14 dozen eggs. At a market value of $3.50 per dozen, this is a $42 value. Input costs this month were $15 - feed and seashell supplement.

In total since May we are around 30 dozen eggs. Break even will come at about 85 dozen eggs which will be sometime next spring.

At the Saanich Fall Fair, where I was volunteering yesterday for part of the day, my son Ben saw all sorts of different chickens being shown. He now wants to show our chickens, but we need to figure out what breed they are. He is also intereted in getting some other interesting varieties of chickens to add to the flock.

In the next few weeks I am going to do a big of coop reconstruction, I am not happy with some of what I have and I know I need to have more shelter from the wet and rain for the winter.