Winebits 523: Booze ban, grape varieties, liquor licenses

booze banThis week’s wine news: Building an island to get around a booze ban, plus climate change’s affect on wine and good news for Massachusetts wine drinkers

A private island: What do you do when the liquor cops ban public drinking? You build an island where they can’t enforce the ban. That was the case in New Zealand over the New Year’s weekend, where residents built a sand island in in a bay to avoid the ban. The BBC reported that “Locals joked that they were in ‘international waters’ and thus exempt from an official liquor ban.” Which seemed to work; one local cop said he thought it was a terrific idea.

Climate change effects: A Harvard study says winemakers might be able to counteract some of the effects of climate change by planting lesser-known grape varieties, even though many of them are reluctant to do so. Says Elizabeth Wolkovich, one of the study’s co-authors: “With continued climate change, certain varieties in certain regions will start to fail – that’s my expectation. The solution we’re offering is how do you start thinking of varietal diversity. Maybe the grapes grown widely today were the ones that are easiest to grow and tasted the best in historical climates, but I think we’re missing a lot of great grapes better suited for the future.”

Loosening the law: Massachusetts, which has some of the toughest liquor laws in the country, should be willing to loosen its restrictions. That’s the conclusion of the state’s Alcohol Beverages Control Commission Task Force in a 288-page final report. The good news for wine drinkers? The task force says the state’s grocery stores should be allowed to sell alcohol in every store, as opposed to the current cap on the number of stores in a chain that can sell booze.

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