Thursday, August 20, 2009

A History of Virginia Wines from Grapes to Glass

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A History of Virginia Wines: From Grapes to Glass
ISBN: 978-1-59629-701-2 • Paperback • September 2009
By Walker Elliott Rowe

“A History of Virginia Wines: From Grapes to Glass” is a groundbreaking narrative of the burgeoning Virginia wine industry from an insider's point of view. Grape grower and winery investor Walker Elliott Rowe takes readers on a tour of some of the best vineyards and wineries in the state, and explores the minds of well-known winemakers like Jim Law, Stephen Barnard and grape grower Chris Hill. In addition, Mr. Rowe, who is fluent in Spanish, interviews Hispanic migrant workers who toil daily in Virginia’s vineyards. Mr. Rowe has gathered old photos and stitched together an account of the founding of the Virginia wine industry by researching and speaking directly with the founders of the trade, including an amusing look of the early days at Barboursville Vineyards. Through existing documents and new research, he uncovers proof that Charles Carter successfully planted European vines grapes at his Cleve Plantation in King George County ahead of Thomas Jefferson's failed efforts to do the same at Monticello. The book also includes 16 pages of brilliant color photographs by noted photographer Jonathan Timmes.”

Walker Elliott Rowe lives in Rappahannock County, where he farms goats and wine grapes. This is Mr. Rowe's third book on wine. To contact the author, visit his blog on local agriculture at

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Friday, August 14, 2009

The Health Care Debate

So I am flying home from Phoenix on Southwest airlines reading Christopher Buckley´s memoir of his father and mother and talking with the passengers seated beside me. I´ve been away from home three long weeks and am anxious to see my farm and kids. To my left is Beth Purdy M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, and her traveling companion named Kit. He is a hospital administrator and CEO of the Arizona Medical Association. She is the president of the Arizona Medical Association.

The doctor and administrator are off to Capitol Hill today to lobby for or against or just be a part of the health care bill discussion taking shape on Capitol Hill. We have had a spirited discussion. I told them I am paying COBRA coverage having been laid off from one employer and taken a contracting job without benefits. President Obama´s recovery plan is paying 65% of my premium. I will stick with that and await wait comes from the congress to see what insurance I might adopt next.

The doctor and the administrator listen to what I tell them and I ask them about the most pressing issues before the doctors lobby. What about the need for more primary health care physicians? They tell me about tort reform. What will you do when the president says he will not support a cap on malpractice lawsuit payments? The administrator tells me of a boy in Phoenix who climbed a cortina wire fence to vandalize an electric plant, lost his balance, sued, and the boy and his attorney pocketed thousands. This clearly flies in the face of common sense, but to an attorney does not matter. I ask, “Did you read DeTocqueville”? He says America´s attorneys are our aristocracy making the laws and passing judgment on the rest of us, complicating life with a patchwork of legislation that even the simple complex. Please face them down I implore as Edward R. Murrow did with Senator McArthy and let the air from their sails.

What about the AMA I ask who have, some say, erected barriers to entry by limiting enrollments in medical schools and not allowed immigrant doctors to practice medicine here? Beth says that state medical boards do allow doctors to come from Guadalajara and Grendada—recall Reagan´s Caribbean war where medical students who could not gain entrĂ©e to school in the USA were rescued from the clutches of the Cubans by US Marines. Thinking of the many Asian doctors I tell them that my own profession, IT, is overrun with Indian immigrants who are working here often on the cheap in violation of the spirit of the law by using loopholes that undercuts the American who cannot find work.

Reading policy papers from the Journal of American Medicine and The Heritage Foundation it is clear which point of view has the ear of these medical professionals. The administrator autographs my copy of The Wall Street Journal with the admonition “Don´t Get Sick”. I would say their position on this debate is preordained.

I myself have come full circle breaking with my conservative friends on this issue. When my COBRA runs out I plan to sign up for the government sponsored health insurance option assuming one makes it through the legislature. As I near 50 years of age I am preparing for old age and retirement, a bit prematurely say my kids, having married a girl 14 years my junior and thinking about medical costs. It would be better to spread the the liability and cost among all 330 million of us Americans than have only the gainfully employed burden the bill. Would it not? And ask for the specialization of medicine where one specialist hands off one patient to another in an endless string of referrals I am looking simply for a beating medical heart to attend to my pains, refill my lexapro, and hand me an aspirin.