Saturday, 26 January 2013

Wines of the Month (February)

Map depicting Piesport and the surrounding area
The grapes used to produce these kits were grown in California whose lineage of the grapes were originally sourced from the area around the community of Piesport on the left bank of the Mosel River in Germany. Interestingly, a large Roman grape pressing facility was unearthed at the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen vineyard site in 1985.  This discovery clearly indicates the importance of the vines cultivated on the slopes of Piesporter since 3 A.D.  The Romans recognized that the Mosel region provided ideal conditions and micro-climate for a successful viticulture.  The slope with its east and west facing foothills, are well-protected from the cold winds, combined with the forest above the vineyards and deep, clayish slate soils ensure perfect water supply even during hot, dry summers.

The white wines produced possess a natural, fruity sweetness in a presentation that one can fully enjoy a wine's fruitiness and armoas without having the slightest impression of an overly sweet wine.  The natural sweetness is achieved by stopping the fermentation thus preserving the pure and complete expression of the fruit from their respective sites from the region.

Vieux Château du Roi (Château Neuf Du Pape)
Vineyards located at Château Neuf Du Pape
The name roughly translated is "old house of the king".  Vieux Château du Roi or VCR is a name that wine kits makers' use to represent Château Neuf Du Pape ("new house of the pope") like wine blends.  The original name was coined from the time when Pope Clement V moved to Avignon in 1305 due to a conflict between the Papacy and the French Crown in the historic region in the southern Rhone Valley in France. Apparently, the Pope was an avid wine lover. Aside from being infatuated with wine, Pope Clement V's other memorable historical note was that he was ultimately responsible for suppressing the order of the Knights Templar.  Getting back to the subject of wine, in California, VCR is produced from a blending of a variety of grapes to imitate the complexities possessed by the original Château Neuf Du Pape. Such attributes as the ripeness of the grapes and the oak barrels used in ageing the red wine creates a lush wine with a polished texture.

  1. The Wine Rambler
  2. Reinhold Haart
  3. Wine-Searcher
  4. The Wine Cellar Insider

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Dexter Decision: Action or Inaction on NSLC versus u-vint operators.

The NDP Government, led by our Premier, Darrell Dexter, has a choice to make this week.  They have to choose whether or not to intervene in the NSLC’s request to the NS Supreme Court for a permanent injunction to close three small u-vint businesses.   And it is a choice.  This is not a criminal matter before the courts, it is a civil one.  No charges have been laid by the RCMP; no Crown Attorney is handling the application to the court.  But someone is making this move forward, and making decisions about how we were investigated, how and when to prosecute us, and how to best force us out of the market.  Who ever that is, works for the NSLC.  And the NSLC comes under the responsibility of the Department of Finance. 

Minister Maureen MacDonald, has the choice to exercise ministerial discretion over this matter.  She is not obligated to intervene, but as a senior member of  government, it is her responsibility to act in a fair and reasonable manner.  She can choose to consider just the regulations and ignore the inherent conflict of interest that exists in having the NSLC be both monopoly retailer and market regulator.

The Premier and all his Ministers can choose to consider the impact this has on three businesses that have been charged and how the business environment in the province is affected.

Actions Needed

Should the Minister and Premier decide to act, versus sit this out to see what happens in a court next Monday, there are things they can do. 
  1. Have the NSLC withdraw their application to the court;
  2. Have the NSLC cease any further legal action against u-vint operators until such time as the regulations and role of the NSLC in enforcement has been reviewed;
  3. Order a review of the legislation and regulations in light of both public policy interests and public opinion.  Work with industry participants, NSLC management and government representatives to establish clear rules and practises for the operation of u-vint services in Nova Scotia.
Taking action on this matter is straightforward. 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Voice of the People | January 20, 2013

More extracts from The Chronicle Herald, Voice of the People section, Jan 20, 2013 on the subject of small business in NS and the NSLC.


David Beresford-Green, Fall River : NSTC next? 

Perhaps one reason for originally setting up the liquor corporation was to save the poor, ignorant populace from that pernicious substance called alcohol. But one has to wonder why there was never any government control over an even nastier substance called tobacco. 

Maybe Darrell Dexter is even now considering setting up Nova Scotia Tobacco Corporation, with only its outlets selling the product. I doubt he is, but on that basis consider the illogicality of the NSLC.

It should not be the government’s business to sell booze. The NSLC should be privatized and the province allowed to claw its way into the 21st century.

Kevin MacPherson, Halifax : Truly, taxpayers lose 

The old Latin expression “in vino veritas” (in wine there is truth) causes me to write concerning the great broohaha brewed up by the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation and others. The simple truth is that the NSLC is afraid a small dent might be made in its fiscal bottom line. 

I am a senior taxpaying citizen of Nova Scotia. When I lived in my own home, I made wine as a hobby. Having moved to an apartment, I no longer have the space to brew my own “nectar of the gods.” I now rely on a young businessman to make my wine for me.

It is small businesses and bright young businessmen and women who are the backbone of economic advances. These people generate ideas which turn small adventures into profitable employment for themselves and others. This provides tax dollars for the government to judiciously use for services to Nova Scotians.

Should the NSLC fight these small businessmen in court, it will use taxpayers’ money to pay high-end lawyers against the minimal funds of the small businessmen. A David and Goliath struggle which favours the fiscal giant know as the NSLC.

The losers in this scenario are the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, for we would discourage other entrepreneurs from attempting to start small businesses. We would lose more of our tax base in an already tax-strapped province. And we would lose a source of excellent wine at an affordable price!

Tim Olive, Dartmouth : Win-win scenario 

Governments in Nova Scotia continue to ignore the need to privatize the NSLC. The recent harassment of wine store businesses is another example of why no government agency can operate retail businesses as efficiently as the private sector. 

Privatization means removal of 90 per cent of NSLC employees from the tax roll, creation of a new revenue source through small business taxes, retention of liquor tax revenue based on distribution of alcohol from a government warehouse to private-sector businesses, and elimination of all government-owned and -leased properties related to the NSLC monopoly. In addition, the private sector would move forward with interprovincial trade and co-operation in liquor distribution.

What part of the scenario that includes drastically reduced overhead while retaining tax revenue do civil servants and politicians not understand? Employees can continue working in a more realistic private-sector environment and if they choose not to, opportunities will grow for increased employment of those looking for work.

Safety, security, age checks for purchasers or easier access to alcohol are red herrings promoted by people with a personal interest in continuing NSLC and union benefits.

Wayne Myers, Dartmouth : Beating up little guy 

This is another example of the Dexter NDP government and his minister beating up the little guy. If it was a larger employer, they would attend a news conference with their money bag. 

The minister should support these small investors and companies, not have their conflict-of-interest NSLC beat them up and put jobs on the line — for what? The small amount of business the NSLC might get?

They should have better things to do with their high-end, high-priced and highly taxed products than beat on a few small business outlets and their employees. Oh well, the minister said it is not a high-priority item on her list — must go find a mill we can help.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Voice of the People | January 16, 2013

The following are extracts from The Chronicle Herald, Voice of the People section, Jan 16, 2013 on the subject of small business in NS and the NSLC.

David K. Young, Lunenburg: Unacceptable harassment

The Jan. 14 editorial “Silly rules safe here” puts the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation vs. U-vint retailer issue in clear perspective. Cannot Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald see what is clearly unacceptable police-state harassment by NSLC of small business owners? One must wonder why the NDP government saw fit to grant NSLC such powers. I, for one, am outraged and hope that logic can prevail — at least in the courts.

Michael Pierce, Pictou: Support small business

The recent decision by the liquor corporation to try to close brew-it-yourself operations in Nova Scotia is yet another example of Gestapo-like tactics being endorsed by a government which supposedly represents the little people.

Liquor licensing in Nova Scotia, as in other Canadian provinces, is a relic of Prohibition days when governments decided they had the moral and legal obligation to control the sale of alcohol. In reality, it was and is a massive tax grab. In Canada, unlike in the U.S., it fell short of outright prohibition, but resulted in the establishment of liquor licensing boards and commissions which ensured that all the profit from the sale of alcohol went directly into provincial coffers.

In the 21st century, this premise is ludicrous. Alcohol is a commodity which should be subject to the same laws of supply and demand as any other consumable. There is no reason why there should not be privately owned wine, beer and liquor outlets, just as there are throughout Europe, the United States, and more recently in British Columbia and Alberta.

The mom-and-pop stores which allow the average person to brew beer and wine at a modest cost should not only be lauded, but promoted. It is about time Darrell Dexter and his colleagues got their heads out of the sand and instead of giving millions to private corporations, provided a modicum of support for their supposed constituents.

Gordon De Vries, Halifax: It’s all about tax

For over 40 years, I’ve been an occasional home brewer of wine and beer. Now a senior, I find the lifting of heavy carboys difficult and, with limited space in an apartment, home brewing is no longer an option. U-brew is the only way for me to continue my hobby; with the heavy lifting done for me, I can do the rest.

It’s time for the Dexter government to get with the times and simply treat Nova Scotians the same as the residents of our neighbouring provinces. The spin that they are trying out, regarding protecting our health, is a non-starter; it’s all about tax. The NSLC does every-thing in its power to push product out the door with bright new stores, sales and promotions, and then it wants to talk about health. Give me a break.

Leave the U-brews alone and let us enjoy our simple little pleasures like the majority of other Canadians.

Charles Lindsay, Halifax: Nanny-state attitude

As a long-time NDP supporter, I was dismayed to hear Maureen MacDonald admit that she was content to keep on the books a provincial law (on in-store wine making) whose purpose she could not explain. I had always thought of the NDP as a party of reasonableness and fairness, yet here we have a minister irrationally supporting an unfair law that serves no useful social or economic purpose (other than maximizing the monopolistic powers of the NSLC) and discriminates against small businesses in an area of operation that is perfectly legal in several other provinces (including both other Maritime provinces).

Doesn’t the minister realize this is the kind of nanny-state attitude that undermines those of us who generally argue that government is good for you?

NSLC versus U-Vint Services

Advertisement appearing in the Chronicle Herald, Saturday, January 19, 2013 reproduced here.

We appreciate and are humbled by the support and public outcry towards the NSLC’s prosecution of u-vint operations and the small businesses that offer these services. Wine Kitz locations in Halifax and New Minas want to apologize to all our customers who planned to use our in-store wineries only to be turned away. With your continued support, we are hopeful we will re-launch our u-vint services in the near future. Water ‘n Wine in New Glasgow continue to offer u-vint services to their loyal customers.

We are preparing to defend ourselves in court on January 28th against the NSLC’s request for a permanent injunction against us. As we have been advised – "you do not take a knife to a gun fight". We intend to have a strong defence, but the cost is significant. We are small business operators and we do not have the deep pockets of the NSLC.

We have asked Premier Dexter and the NDP government to consider withdrawing the NSLC action against us. It is within their power to do so. Both leaders from the other political parties, Steven McNeil (Liberal) and Jamie Ballie (PC) have publicly provided their support for our cause. We appreciate their efforts and continued pressure on the government to change our laws to reflect modern times and the wishes of the people of Nova Scotia.  

We ask that you continue to show your support for a change in the regulations in Nova Scotia. You may contact your local MLA or Premier Dexter‘s office via letter, telephone call (1-800-267-1993) or email at Alternatively, you may visit where you will find a prepared letter to Premier Dexter ready for signing. An MLA listing has also been made available for your convenience. 
Thank you….and wish us luck!

Wine Kitz Halifax        Water’n’Wine New Glasgow         Wine Kitz New Minas

Nova Scotia’s NDP Government Gives the Go Ahead to NSLC to Crush Small Businesses

This week marked our first month’s anniversary of taking over the Wine Kitz New Minas store as new owners. On Wednesday, January 9, we were served with legal papers saying that the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission (NSLC) was seeking an injunction against us in the NS Supreme Court two days later that, if granted, would have forced us to close our store. Our business, and two others in the province, was selected for prosecution in an attempt to intimidate all stores offering u-vint services to cease doing so.

The NSLC operates with the full authority of the government of Nova Scotia, and on Thursday the Minister responsible, Maureen MacDonald stated that while u-vints are legal and common in other parts of Canada, they would not be legalized in Nova Scotia. She told the media that companies providing this service should be prosecuted.

Given our situation, we felt there was no alternative but to try to resolve this matter with the NSLC and on Thursday we voluntarily closed our in-store wine making operation and stopped offering the service. As a result, we were removed from the NSLC’s request for an injunction on Friday. The judge gave the other two stores named in the action an extension until January 28 to allow them time to seek appropriate legal representation.

From a small business standpoint, the closing of our in-store winery for any extended period will be catastrophic, and may well lead to the ultimate closure of our store and the loss of our investment. When we were served with papers this week, we were in the process of obtaining premises and hiring staff for another store in Digby. These plans are now on hold.

We are new residents to the province, and new to this business, but we came here with the intent of earning a living as small business owners in rural Nova Scotia. What we have been faced with this week shows that the province does not provide a business climate for people like us. All we can do is take on the fight to operate our business, protect our investment, and have the law that prohibits u-vint services and grants the NSLC such extraordinary powers to prosecute small business struck down.

Gail J. Smith & David M. Cvet
Wine Kitz New Minas
January 12, 2013