Saturday, March 10, 2007

Backstory of a Rant

As a Canadian wine producer, I guess you'll take your publicity wherever you can. But if you're Ontario's Daniel Lenko Estate Winery, you must be feeling just the tiniest bit exploited.

If you were trolling for domestic wine news today through the print media---let's say you typed "Canada Wine" into Google News---the top of the result list was a piece in the National Post, which with the wine reference excerpted, looks like a story on, well, Canadian wine. But go to the piece itself, and you're confronted by yet another 2250-word, heavy-hand-of-government-regulation screed from the nation's neo-con pifflesheet of record. Lenko is mentioned precisely twice, both times disingenuously as some kind of a wounded producer, hobbled by government and unable to market his wares.

The picture is somewhat different if you check out Lenko's own website, though. Turns out he makes his (excellent) wine in quantities small enough to sell them all through his front door. (His exact words: "due to our limited production, the wines are currently only available at the winery.") So the Daniel Lenko winery makes an extremely weak case for Post's authors' free-market fulmination. You want to ask, why Lenko? How'd they stumble onto him?

Simple: The Post is owned by Canwest; Canwest owns Macleans; and at least one Macleans scribbler reads the UK's Financial Times online. Wine critic Jancis Robinson files a Financial Times piece about the Canadian Wine industry on January 12th; on January 22nd, Maclone's excerpts a list of producers Robinson highlighted; 19 days and (probably) a brief Post phone call later, Daniel Lenko finds himself fighting the good fight for unfettered trade in the pages of the Financial Post.

Of course, the real news obscured by such Canwest opportunism is the snapshot of the list of Canadian Wine that Jancis fancies: Osoyoos-Larose Le Grand Vin; Mission Hill Oculus; Tantalus Riesling; Wild Goose Mystic River Gewurtz; Sumac Ridge White Meritage... and some stuff from Ontario. In the Post universe, you might not realize that for the most part, they're all available in a store near you... but they are.

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