August 9, 2006
Historic Moment for Zinfandel

ACW LUCAS WINERY 4.JPG Senate Bill 1253 isn't the most important measure to come before the California legislature this session, but it's the most fun. This is Sen. Carole Migden's measure to name zinfandel the state's "historic wine." The bill already has passed the Senate and is awaiting action by the Assembly, which could come as soon as Thursday.

Last night, Migden, a San Francisco Democrat, held a reception in the Capitol's sixth-floor cafeteria to keep momentum for the measure going. A whole bunch of California's zinfandel producers were there, pouring tastes for legislators and legislative staff members who dropped by. Winemakers actually seemed to outnumber lawmakers, perhaps a sign that SB1253 is so innocuous and non-controversial that the Assembly will approve it with little dissent. (The Senate vote was 21-13, while the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization relayed it to the full Assembly on a 14-0 vote.)

Migden talked briefly about the measure, noting that her reasons for introducing the bill included zinfandel's long and prominent role in helping establish California's wine trade, the grape's knack for adapting to virtually every viticultural region in the state, and that the fruit yields a "darn good bottle" for $20. (I'll quibble with that last comment; I think you can find a darn good bottle of zinfandel for as little as $10.)

Some people who think more highly of cabernet sauvignon and petite sirah object to the bill, she acknowledged, but the point of her effort isn't just to recognize zinfandel's place in state history but to draw attention to California's entire wine trade "in a fun and lively way."

While even she acknowledged that the bill isn't the weightiest issue under the Capitol dome, she remarked wryly that during her 12 years in the legislature only once has a reporter from The New York Times called her, and that was to ask about the zinfandel bill.

Any predictions on how the governor will react to the measure if it is approved by the Assembly? She's pretty confident he will go for it, pointing out that the reception attracted Republican as well as Democratic zinfandel enthusiasts.

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