Sparkling wines bubbled early The Sun's article "Brut...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

January 08, 2000

Sparkling wines bubbled early

The Sun's article "Brut Force" (Dec. 27) needs some clarification.

The article did an excellent job of describing the way high-quality, original process sparkling wine is produced. But it names Schramsberg as the first to produce methode champenois-style wine in California in 1965.

The Davieses, owners of Schramsberg, may have started producing such wine in 1965, but the original process for producing champagne-style sparkling wine was in California long before 1965.

Many immigrant families from Italy, Germany and France brought Old World traditions to this country before the turn of the century. Original process sparkling wine was one of them.

In their 1984 book, "Sparkling Wine," Sheldon and Pauline Wasserman state that Arpad Haraszthy, son of California wine pioneer Agoston Haraszthy, produced the first California methode champenois sparkling wine at Buena Vista in 1863.

This wine was made from the mission grape and had many problems. Most involved too much sugar, thus too much carbon dioxide from the second fermentation in the bottle and thus explosion.

The winery I work for, Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) was founded in Napa Valley in 1900 by Georges and Fernande de Latour. Since 1952, it has been producing sparkling wine through the champagne process. We concentrate on other wines in our portfolio, but still produce small quantities of sparkling wine for use at special occasions at the winery and across the country.

And BV was not the only winery to produce methode champenois sparkling wine in California before 1965.

Other producers of note include Hanns Kornell Champagne Cellars (1958); Weibel Champagne Vineyards, founded in 1945 by the Swiss Weibel family; and Mirassou Vineyards, which first commercially released such wines in 1954.

George A. Foote, Severna Park

The writer is East Coast wine education manager for Beaulieu Vineyards of Rutherford, Calif.

Feeling steamrolled by tower

The Sun's editorial about communication towers struck a chord with me ("Clear rules for towers," Dec. 29) .

I live in the Jacksonville area of Northern Baltimore County, near the main intersection of Jarrettsville Pike and Paper Mill Road/Sweet Air Road that is known as "Four Corners."

For years, there has been an effort to build a new communication tower adjacent to these "Four Corners," on land zoned light commercial for several years. The site is in the middle of the Jacksonville Rural Commercial Center.

The intent of this zoning is to prevent developments which detract from the rural village atmosphere in Jacksonville and Hereford, the county's two designated Rural Commercial Centers.

Those who live in and around Jacksonville have no question that the proposed tower is an abomination that should not proceed.

The Greater Jacksonville Association is taking the lead in trying to prevent its erection and suggesting alternative sites.

The main problem we have is that there is ambiguity between the zoning and the Rural Commercial district's limitations and requirements.

Lawyers will have to argue these issues. Meanwhile, the developer is proceeding with construction, having agreed to remove the tower if he loses his case.

But this puts the local citizens in a bad situation, because once the tower is up it will be difficult to force its removal.

James V. McCoy, Phoenix

The writer is planning chairman of the Greater Jacksonville Association.

The logic of crowds on roads

The lack of interest in public transportation for Baltimore perplexes The Sun (editorial series on mass transit, Dec. 12-14). It should not. Congested roads make solid economic sense.

Congestion increases fuel consumption, a happy event for fuel importers and distributors. And it strengthens the economies of friendly fuel-exporting countries.

Stop-and-go traffic increases automobile wear, requiring repairs and replacement of cars which provide jobs for Americans and our auto-making friends.

Congested roads require more repair and increase pressures for more or bigger roads, benefiting construction firms and their workers.

More roads mean under-maintained neighborhoods can be shed for pristine lands, which gives an out to frustrated farmers, provides opportunities for slash-and-burn housing construction and creates a bigger tax base.

The vexed commuter, spending hours in traffic, loses job productivity, increasing the need for workers.

The psychiatrist can help with road wrath and those squirrel-cage feelings of purposelessness.

And there's always an expensive divorce lawyer around to deal with accusations of spousal neglect.

All are beneficiaries of congestion, and the list goes on and on.

Against this impressive economic engine, what can improved public transportation hope to bring to the Baltimore area? Not much, business and political leaders seem to have concluded.

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