August 28, 2006
Governor Stomps Grape Measure

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger bit the bullet late this afternoon, and found that zinfandel doesn't go with lead. He vetoed a measure to designate zinfandel California's "historic wine." The bill, introduced by Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, easily had passed both houses of the state Legislature.

Nonetheless, the governor said in his veto message that it would be a "shame" to recognize only one of California's many varietals as the state's historic wine.

"To name only one of the many varietals produced in California as the historic wine fails to recognize the many world-class varietals produced in the state," said the governor.

"Californians should be proud of all our 'California Grown' agricultural products because they are the fruit of the toil of the finest ranchers, growers, scientists and entrepreneurs in the world. Singling one out in special recognition would be inappropriate," added Schwarzenegger, echoing a theme of the Family Winemakers of California, the only wine-trade group to oppose the measure.

El Dorado County winemaker Justin Boeger, president of Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP), said that while he was disappointed by the governor's veto he felt that the discussion generated by the bill not only brought attention to zinfandel's role in helping develop California's wine industry but also helped cultivate interest in other varietals generally.

Sen. Migden, meanwhile, is pondering her options on behalf of zinfandel, which range from introducing another version of the measure to promoting an informal referendum whereby consumers could cast votes for what they think should be California's historic or state wine, perhaps at the wine pavilion at Cal Expo during next year's State Fair, said a spokeswoman in her office.

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