Winemaker’s Journal (WJ): Joe, I understand you have a sign in your driveway that states “Keep Right.” Is that an expression of your political views?
Joe: It’s just a traffic sign I took from an intersection.
WJ: Isn’t that theft of government property?
Joe: I call it “fair trade.” What do you call it when the government takes thousands of dollars from me and gives it to some bankers so they can have parties in California?
WJ: Then, you’re not a liberal?
Joe: I’d like to take Sarah Palin on a date to a wine bar.
WJ: Wouldn’t that make Joe Six Pack jealous?
Joe: I used to make beer before I started making wine. I have nothing against Joe Six Pack and beer drinkers. It was costing me $6 a six-pack to make really good beer, but with the increase in micro breweries during the last 20 years, I could buy the best beer in the world for about $6 a pack so I quit making it myself. It costs me $6 to make a bottle of $46 wine, so I’m actually saving $40 a day with every bottle of wine I drink.
WJ: Speaking of home economics, how would Obama’s policies impact U.S. wine production?
Joe: Under Obama’s plan, my taxes are going up. He’s proposing to increase the tax on anyone who makes more than 250 cases of wine a year. I was thinking of buying out the Mondavi estate, but I just don’t know how I’m going to do it with my taxes going up. Obama says he’s only going to tax the rich, but where does it stop? Sure, he starts by taxing you if you make more than 250 cases, then the next thing you know, he’s charging a $10 tax on every bottle of wine produced in America in order to fund the bank bailout. Hey, Mr. Obama, would you mind lowering the mortgage on my vineyard by $250,000? The other thing the politicians don’t understand is that when they raise taxes, I’m going to hire fewer workers. When that happens, unemployment goes up in San Diego and in Mexico.
WJ: Concerning Mexico, how do you feel about the candidates’ positions on immigration?
Joe: I predict that Obama, bending to pressure from protectionist special interests, will ship all illegal Mexican workers back to Africa.
WJ: Wouldn’t that negatively impact you? How are you going to manage your ranch without farm hands?
Joe: Because our taxes are going up, I’ve taken preemptive action to cut costs and fired our workers. After things pick up again, we can always go down to the street corner to hire some day laborers.
WJ: Do you or did you ever employ undocumented workers?
Joe: Are you with the “Justice” department or something? No. Never.
WJ: How do you know?
Joe: They never told me they were illegal.
WJ: What would a McCain presidency mean for wine makers?
Joe: John McCain would free the grapes. The Republican Party, going back to the days of George Washington, has a long history of supporting brewers, winemakers & distillers. Did you know that George Washington himself made a pretty mean brew? Sam Adams used George’s recipe.
WJ: What about the Whiskey Rebellion, when Washington crushed a movement by distillers who refused to pay taxes to the federal government?
Joe: As Jesus said, pay unto Caesar what is due Caesar, then he broke out the good wine at a wedding. Under a McCain administration, the states would no longer be able to interfere with interstate commerce and the Constitutional Right of American citizens to purchase wine direct from any winery they want. McCain would end the tyranny and protectionism of the monopolistic wine distributors and we would be able to ship our wine anywhere in United States, especially Alaska. Did you know that Governor Palin nips a glass of wine every once in a while? She has a plan, whereby we could stock wine in Alaska then slip it into Russia. The idea is to get Russians addicted to wine, so they’ll quit vodka undermining Russia’s industrial base. As the saying goes, when vodka factories fail, down goes Mother Russia, and along with that Putin and his cronies. When McCain was campaigning out here in California wine country, he promised to cut tobacco subsidies (what with all the complaints about cancer and those other problems caused by smoking) and he promised to help the winemakers. Only John McCain and Sarah Palin are maverick enough to stand up to the tobacco lobby. Instead of a $10 tax on a bottle of wine which we would see under Obama within three years – under a new Republican administration I’ll be given a $10 per bottle subsidy to make wine – plus I get to keep the revenue from what I sell. McCain has a plan for fixing Iraq. He’s going to take the $75 billion annual surplus from Iraqi oil revenues to purchase wine to ship to Iraq. And finally, McCain has an alternative energy plan. He’s going to purchase millions of gallons of premium wine to convert to ethanol for use in America’s cars. Under McCain, wine production goes up, we hire more workers, unemployment in San Diego drops, unemployment in Mexico drops.
WJ: Are you planning to hire workers from Mexico?
Joe: I invited my friend Joe the Plumber to come over and install an irrigation valve because the Mexican workers were taking too long to get the work done. When Joe arrived, they freaked out. But I’ve got to tell you, Joe didn’t install the valve correctly, and the Mexicans repaired Joe’s sloppy work. It was a victory of the Mexican worker over the American worker, and the beginning of the end for Joe the Plumber.
WJ: You’re trying to be a farmer in a desert. Aren't you concerned about the future availability of water?
Joe: I used to be an avocado farmer before I planted grapes. In the summer, I was giving each avocado tree 300 gallons of water a week – my water bills were astronomical. A grape vine only needs 10 gallons of week in the heat of summer – and 8 months out of the year I don’t need to give them any water at all. I’m saving thousands of gallons of water with every grape vine I plant. I have a friend in New Zealand. His name is Joe, Joe the Avocado Grower. He’s the father of the avocado oil business over there, and has his own avocado groves. I asked Joe how much he spent on water. He said $500. I asked $500 per day? No, he spends $500 the whole year! He’s got much greater rainfall over there, and a well. Shoot, we should just buy all of our avocados from New Zealand, and the New Zealanders should buy all of their red wine from us.
WJ: Do the policies of the San Diego water district and the San Diego county government support avocado growers at the expense of grape growers?
Joe: That’s a complicated question – all I know is that there’s going to be less water to go around and that avocado trees require a lot more water than grape vines . While the politicians try to figure that one out, I’ve already made my decision: I planted grapes.
WJ: Which Presidential candidate is more supportive of the rights of wine producers to sell the product of their labor from their own backyard?
Joe: With the strategic importance wine producers will play in thwarting Russian aggression, alternative energy initiatives and the Iraqi balance of payments problem, I’m concerned Congress will nationalize wine production after the banks.
WJ: Wouldn’t boutique wineries benefit from billions in public investment?
Joe: Do you think the government can make "fine wine"? The Italians make good wine. Good wine is made by stomping grapes with your feet. But according to my good friend Merlot Mike, Fine Wine™ can only be made when lush grapes are gently crushed between the subtle breasts of nubile maidens. Can you see Uncle Sam doing that? Besides, what would we do if given billions of tax dollars? Go to California and throw a party? There’s no point in that – we’re here already and have as much as we want to drink already.
WJ: Is it true you’re organizing a protest march in New York?
Joe: I call it “Main Street Goes to Wall Street.” I’m calling for all winos to meet on the steps of the New York Stock Exchange building in Lower Manhattan next Tuesday, election day. It’s not a protest – it’s to provide emergency relief. After Hurricane Ike struck the Gulf Coast, we bottled up wine to send to our brothers and sisters in Texas as a symbol of our solidarity. After all this financial carnage on Wall Street , I’m sure there are some bankers who could use a drink.
WJ: Won’t you need to hire New York wine distributors to do the pouring for you?
Joe: Not if McCain wins. He’ll bust the monopolies.
WJ: Any final last words before the election?
Joe: Vote early and vote often.