Thursday, January 13, 2011

Letter To The Editor at the Wichita Eagle

After seeing Barefoot Cellars (a California Wine) served at Governor Brownback's Inauguration, Grace Hill President Dave Sollo decided to take up a letter writing campaign. Below is the full version of a letter he sent to the Wichita Eagle. An abbreviated version was published in the Eagle today.

To Whom It May Concern:

I read with dismay the report from Governor Brownback’s Inaugural Ball that Barefoot Cellars California table wine was served there. We have a new governor, but we have the same poor choice being made for wine in Topeka. At a time when Kansas is trying to encourage job growth, agritourism, and rural development, why would any non-Kansas wine be served in any official Kansas governmental function?

I just returned from the Kansas Grape Growers and Winemakers Association Annual Meeting, and I can assure wine drinkers that Kansas does indeed produce some excellent wines. The wine industry is growing steadily with over 20 wineries now licensed in the state. Many other people interested in viticulture are putting in small vineyards and giving them personal hands-on care that is not found in many other vineyards across the country. The industry is poised for rapid growth that will add to the ambience and culture of our state.

I learned this weekend that Iowa has nearly 100 wineries comprising 5.75% of wine sales in the state. I also learned that Missouri does even better with 8.0% of wine sales coming from their very own wineries. This is real economic clout providing jobs and a healthy stream of tax revenue.

Unfortunately, our state has a history of neglecting the wine industry. Even our very own Kansas State Fair allows for the sale of Barefoot Cellars California table wine in the same building that is supposed to promote Kansas wines. Is not the Kansas State Fair about Kansas? I bet the California State Fair doesn’t serve Kansas wines there. Barefoot Cellars California table wine has no place at our state fair and no place at the Kansas Governor’s Inauguration.

As Wichitans, we support our local businesses. We buy local sweet corn, local peaches, local blackberries, local meats and so forth. Dollars spent on products raised here are important to building a strong economy and a healthy lifestyle. Next time you see the governor, thank him for his service, but also please remind him to raise a glass of Kansas wine the next time he throws a party. And if he’s still listening, you might remind him to get the California wine out of the Kansas State Fair too.

David Sollo

Grace Hill Winery

Vice President of the Kansas Grape Growers and Winemakers Association


Peter said...

I couldn't agree more,David. Perception is everything, and if we don't realize that what we have to offer is competitive on the merits, we lose many times over.

Donald said...

Who is in charge of the selections of vendors at the Kansas State Fair and where is their alligence to Kansas growers and businesses?
Dave hit the nail on the head. It IS, isn't it the KANSAS State Fair?
Shouldn't commom sense rule when making the decisions of what is presented as Kansas products?
Judy and Max

Lewis said...

I'm gobsmacked! I was not aware that "Th' Gov" had chosen an out-of-Kansas wine for celebretory purposes in Topeka! "Kansas FIRST" is evidently not a common-enough phrase in Brownback's lexicon. Two well-known references come to mind: "Man cannot be reasoned out of that which he has not been reasoned into" and "There is none so blind as he who will not see." I submit Grace Hill Winery wines for nomination as complicatedly exquisite complements to both food AND conversation. The Isolated Governor is welcome to run and catch up with the Body Politic.
Lewis Blackwell, A Taster of Peckerhead Red...and I VOTE!