Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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Napa, Bordeaux…and Mackinaw City

New wineries are popping up north of the 45th Parallel

Ross Boissoneau - June 23rd, 2014  

It isn’t easy making fine wine north of the 45th Parallel.

For those vineyards that try, it’s all about finding and using hardier grape varieties … with a little chutzpah sprinkled in.

More than 50 vineyards exist north of the 45th, known for being halfway to the North Pole. These wineries are sprinkled from Ellsworth, to Harbor Springs, all the way up to the Straits of Mackinac.

To attract more oenophiles, wineries like Cellars of Royal Farm, Harbor Springs Vineyards & Winery, and Mackinaw Trail Winery have formed the Northwest Michigan Bay View Wine Trail.

The trail winds through Indian River, Alanson, Harbor Springs, and Petoskey.

“There are new varieties for northern climates,” said Linda Jones, the executive director of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. That means more opportunities for grape growers and winemakers.

Jones says traditionally four counties have accounted for 90 percent of the state’s wine grapes: Berrien, Van Buren, Leelanau and Grand Traverse.

But that is changing as Michigan and 12 other states band together to develop hardier new strains in what’s called the Northern Grapes Project.

They are developing grapes such as Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, Marquette, and La Crescent. Those are among the grapes being planted in vineyards for winemaking.

Among the wineries of the most northerly part of the Lower Peninsula, the best known may be Mackinaw Trail Winery, owned and run by the Stabile family. Originally one of the few vineyards in the Upper Peninsula, it now boasts operations in Mackinaw City, Petoskey, and Manistique.

Krista Stabile manages tasting rooms and local events. Her father, a native Sicilian, learned the ropes from his father and grandfather. Now Stabile’s brother, Dustin, is the family winemaker.

Though the winery became operational in 2004, this family has been crafting wines for four generations.

In addition, both Dustin Stabile and his father Ralph Stabile teach others the ins and outs of the industry at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey.

Located five miles north of Harbor Springs on M-119, Harbor Springs Winery and Vineyards at Pond Hill Farm is an all-encompassing farm and vineyard excursion. In addition to the vineyard and tasting room, visitors can enjoy the on-site bistro restaurant. It is also a micro-brewery, farm store, and working farm, complete with livestock, including ducklings and pigs.

Benjamin Dark manages the tasting room, vineyard and brewery. He says one of the best and best-selling wines is the Regatta Red Blend, which is grown in a silica sand dune.

“It’s crisp and clear,” he said. “Usually only the whites are so crisp.”

Sid VanValkenburgh of Seasons of the North Winery in Indian River also decided to put his years of home winemaking experience to work. He and wife Rachel teamed up with her parents, Mike and Brenda Passino, to create the winery.

VanValkenburgh and his father-in-law took the courses at North Central Michigan College and then pooled their expertise.

“He’s the farmer and I’m the winemaker,” he said. “It’s fun. You meet all kinds of people.”

Crooked Vine Vineyard and Winery of Alanson is the dream of another husbandand-wife team, Geoff and Gail Frey. Geoff is a former distributor for Gallo wine in Ohio.

A career change brought him to California, so he familiarized himself with the wines of Napa Valley. In Michigan postretirement, he took classes at North Central Michigan College, and then built his own winery in Indian River.

“I talked to a lot of people in Traverse City before starting up here,” said Frey. “We decided two people with part-time help could do five acres.”

Frey subsequently planted 2,000 vines last spring. He also bought grapes from southern Michigan and produced six wines: Two reds, two whites and two fruit wines.

“The feedback from hotels and restaurants is they love it,” Frey said.

Jones says the Michigan wine industry continues to grow and receive praise from throughout the wine world.

Michigan wines earn many prestigious awards annually at several national and international competitions, such as Riverside, San Francisco Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, Long Beach, Indy International, Tasters Guild, Great Lakes, and others, earning a total of 176 gold medals in 2013.

The area’s growing visibility and prestige have been recognized by the industry in competitions as well as in the press, by such entities as Midwest Wine Press and others.

“There is a big future ahead for Michigan wines,” wrote Dan Berger, a syndicated wine columnist from Santa Rosa, Calif., on the Michigan Wine Council website. “Out on the West Coast, you can’t find a good Riesling for under $15. Here they cost $10 to $12.

Nobody makes Riesling with this much style for this amount of money.”

That’s echoed by Tom Stevenson, author of “The New Sotheby’s Encyclopedia of Wine.”

“I was impressed by Michigan pinot noirs because of their naturally elegant weight and structure; and by the pinot grigios, which typically exceed in quality their Italian namesakes; and by the merlots, Rieslings, chardonnays and sparkling wines,” he said.

The growth of the industry throughout the state, and the continued development of cool hardy grapes that are able to withstand the rigors of Northern Michigan winters, promise that will continue to be the case.

One of the engaging aspects of the industry is that, like its counterpart on the microbrewing side, those in it see one another as friends and partners, rather than competitors.

“It’s not competition, it’s cooperation,” says Stabile. “With California, it’s a competition. With Chateau Chantal, it’s not. We’re all concerned with getting Michigan higher.”

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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