by Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte)
I would never have thought it possible, but it turns out that Rupert Murdoch (of Times Warner and News Corp. fame) and I have something in common. It’s kind of surprising, since I can hardly think of anyone more unlike me. We’re on diametrically opposed ends of the political scale. He’s rich and I’m, well, a winemaker (about as far removed from rich as you can imagine).
But here it is, straight from the LA Times:
“Rupert Murdoch awaiting California liquor license” (which can be found at http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-rupert-murdoch-moraga-vineyard-california-alcohol-license-20130625,0,2115268.story).
The gist of Mr. Murdoch’s problem is summarized thus:
“The license approval process typically takes 45 to 90 days, ABC spokesman John Carr said.
Murdoch needs a winegrower’s license to be able to manufacture, mix, flavor, color, label, sell or transport the wine. “A winegrower’s license also authorizes the person … to conduct wine tastings … either on or off the winegrower’s premises,” according to ABC rules.”
So Mr. Murdoch, like me, has to stand in line to get his California license from the ABC (Alcoholic and Beverage Control). I do want to note that the article is a little inaccurate in that Murdoch is applying for an O2, not a liquor license, but the delay is the same.
It reminds me of a saying I saw recently concerning the kings and paupers of the Middle Ages: that now they are all equal. We’ve superseded death now. What it once took death to accomplish is now the purvey of the ABC.
To some extent, it’s reassuring that Mr. Murdoch’s billions of dollars can’t move the slow- moving wheels of bureaucracy any quicker than I can. Red tape becomes the great equalizer.
Of course, when all it said and done, Mr. Murdoch will be the proud owner of a $29.5 million dollar Malibu vineyard estate. Me, not so much. So the great equalizer (i.e., the ABC) is only a temporary equalizer, but sometimes in life you just have to take what you can get.
Of course, once we get our ABC license, we still have to butt heads with the County of Solano. So while Murdoch will get his vineyards when the ABC gets around to processing his application, we still have a ways to go.
But at least for now, Rupert Murdoch and I are in the same boat. And try as I might, I can’t help but feel a little sorry for him.