Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Virginia wine wars

This article in the Richmond Times Dispatch discusses two bills currently in committee which will have a profound impact on small wineries in Virginia. An excerpt:

A bill, sponsored by Del. Christopher B. Saxman, R-Staunton, would allow small Virginia farm wineries and those in other states to distribute their products in Virginia without going through a licensed wholesale distributor.

The measure is intended to fix a state law that was found by a federal judge to violate the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause. The challenged law allows Virginia wineries, but not those from out of state, to self-distribute in Virginia.

Losing the ability to wholesale their products directly to restaurants, wine shops and other retailers would put many small Virginia wineries out of business, winery owners say.
There is a competing bill, however, that's a boon to the distributors:

The distributors are supporting, instead, legislation by Del. David B. Albo, R-Fairfax, that would create a new separate class of small wine distributors selling 30,000 gallons or less of wine per year. Duvall said the bill is not intended to be a "wink-and-nod" way for wineries to distribute their products.
The second bill would allow wineries to set up "dummy distributorships", where they hold a fractional interest, or they could get a friend or relative to obtain a distributor's license. Either would place an undue burden on small wineries that they can ill afford to deal with.

Is it just me or do the wine distributors remind you of the character from Office Space whose only purpose at the company was to deliver the customers' requirements to the engnieers, when the engineers were perfectly capable of talking to the customers directly?

UK adoption story

Baby Be Mine: Bringing home Kai Ya
Jane and Bill Cowan travelled to China to adopt a baby girl called Kai Ya. Before they set out, they knew only that she was 18 months old and an orphan, abandoned by her mother when she was two days old. In a BBC documentary, Baby Be Mine, Bill Cowan describes their journey to adopt a baby girl they knew only through a handful of photographs.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Naked Mountain

Taking note of the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having, my wife informed me that we should “do something” this weekend, which is code for something outside and/or an hour or more away from our home. January is a good time to visit some of the wineries since the tasting rooms are less crowded in the winter months. A little bit of research revealed that Naked Mountain winery was serving a lasagna lunch on weekends between January and March. Several of the local wineries do this to get people through the door during otherwise slow seasons. In the past, we’ve had some great stew at Loudoun Valley and tasty lentil soup at Windham, so I guess it works.

Naked Mountain is located in Markham, Virginia, about an hour from where we live. In other words, it’s out in the sticks. We took the scenic route down Route 50 through Aldie and Middleburg. My wife and I had visited about three or four years ago. They specialize in Chardonnay, and back then that was all they had. They were planting Riesling then and this time, there was some of that to be found, although it was blended into one of their Chardonnays. Their 2004 Blue Label Chardonnay has 5% Riesling and it’s just the right amount to give the wine a little bit of a dry edge that makes it great to drink. Their 2002 Blue Label, like the 2004, was fermented in neutral barrels (older than 5 years) as well as stainless steel. The 2002 Blue Label, as well as the 2002 and 2003 Black Label Chardonnays are 100% varietals, however the Black Label wines are fermented in newer oak barrels, which imparts that traditional smooth chardonnay texture.

Naked Mountain also offers two red wines: a Cabernet Franc, which did not impress, and a 2002 Raptor Reserve, comprised of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. They got it right with this one. Fruit forward with hints of cherry and pepper. We picked this wine to go with our lasagna lunch. Here’s a good tip: if the wine is included in the price, go with the most expensive one.

We had a nice time eating lunch and taking in the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the cloudy weather didn’t detract from the good time. I think we’ll be back in the future to Drink Naked.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Well, I agree with the Mathematics and Engineering (as well as the Art and Dance) scores, but it looks like I missed my true calling.

You scored as Philosophy. You should be a Philosophy major! Like the Philosopher, you are contemplative and you enjoy thinking about the purpose for humanity's existence.





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with

When celebrities adopt

Meg Ryan is set to join Hollywood's adoptive mothers after reportedly signing up to play mother to a Chinese baby.

The actress will take charge of a Chinese baby later today (20JAN06), according to America's OK! celebrity magazine.

Sources claim the WHEN HARRY MET SALLY star has spent months chasing her dream of becoming a mum for the second time and heard the news she had been approved late last year (05).

The adoption is scheduled to take place at an American consulate in China, according to OK! sources.

An insider tells the publication, "The consulate will formalise the adoption and grant Meg's new daughter a visa and a social security number.

"They will probably be flying back to the US immediately after the process is complete."

Ryan has a teenage son, JACK, by former husband Dennis Quaid.

Other Hollywood stars who have discovered the thrill of adoption include Angelina Jolie, Diane Keaton, Sharon Stone and Nicole Kidman.

Ms. Ryan will soon know what it's like to be Sleepless in Seattle. I just hope she has Courage Under Fire or else she'll be Against the Ropes.

Hello, it's me again

I know, it’s been a while. The post-holiday season just isn’t that exciting, and this year was no different. Christmas was nice, had it at our house this year. We went to New York over New Year’s, drove back, then went back to work. It was Ally’s first significant car trip since Myrtle Beach last August. She has always done well on long drives, considering we don’t have a glowing, mind-numbing idiot box in the car. And we never will. The world outside is a lot more interesting than any Dora the Explorer DVD.

On Wednesday, my wife mailed off the formal application to our adoption agency informing them, in no uncertain terms, that we would like another child from China. Please. And here’s $300 to get the ball rolling. In two weeks, we take the required International Adoption training class, offered in Fairfax this time, not Charlottesville, so we don’t have to stay anywhere strange overnight. Although, some of the best wineries in Virginia are in the C’ville area. Like I’ve said, I don’t know what they’re going to tell us that we don’t already know. Hopefully the home study will get started soon so that we can complete our dossier by April, the same month we sent it in last time. If the wait for referrals holds at around nine months, like it is now, that would put us in China sometime in February of next year.

I am a runner. Again. And to prove it, I bought a new pair of shoes, New Balance 766’s. I’ve worn this series before (I still have a pair of 764’s) and they are perfect to train in. Should I decide to do a marathon in the fall (still up in the air about that), I would need a new pair by then anyway, in which case I’d switch to a lightweight trainer like the NB 833’s, another series I’ve had experience with. Right now, I’m just trying to get some consistency, say three times a week, trying to get a little weight off and build up some endurance. There’s a 10K in my neighborhood in May which might be a good target to aim for.

So that’s about it. I’ll try to get back into a more regular posting schedule, which of course is predicted on the fact that I have something to say. Take care.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Arizona adoption story

Infant makes Phoenix family 'truly' complete
Whitney Elizabeth Lane celebrated her first birthday many thousands of miles from the rural Chinese village where she was born.

On Dec. 20, tiny Whitney dined on her first cupcake after a traditional meal of Chinese food as she spent the day surrounded by her new family in the Lane household of Phoenix.