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<b>VINES WITH COASTAL VIEW: </b> With research showing that the climate of their Catalina Island property was much like the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, the Rusacks planted about five acres of pinot noir, chardonnay, and a historic zinfandel vine from Santa Cruz Island. After years of struggle, they are producing great grapes, said Geoff Rusack, explaining, “I can’t believe we did this.”

Paul Wellman

VINES WITH COASTAL VIEW: With research showing that the climate of their Catalina Island property was much like the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, the Rusacks planted about five acres of pinot noir, chardonnay, and a historic zinfandel vine from Santa Cruz Island. After years of struggle, they are producing great grapes, said Geoff Rusack, explaining, “I can’t believe we did this.”


California’s Island Winery, Reborn

Santa Barbara Family Realizes Historic Dream of Growing Wine Grapes on Catalina


Thursday, January 2, 2014
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After crashing through dry stalks of fennel, gingerly stepping over clumps of poison oak, and dodging branches of lemonade berry, Geoff Rusack crouched beneath a canopy of scrub oak, looked toward the sky, and pointed at a leafy green vine clinging to the top of a willow tree.

“That’s a zinfandel vine right there,” said the 57-year-old vintner with a boyish grin, happy to spend a spring morning trouncing through the foothills of Santa Cruz Island, the biggest of Southern California’s Channel Islands. “It’s crazy how this survives out here.”

One of only four grapevines known to exist on the island, the hidden zin is a remnant of when this remote, 97-square-mile chunk of land off the Santa Barbara coast was home to a sprawling, thriving vineyard. First planted in 1884, the grapes were processed by renowned wineries throughout California ​— ​including under the Santa Cruz Island Wine label until it shut down in 1918 ​— ​and the estimated 200-acre vineyard even kept pumping through Prohibition. But then came the Great Depression, and away went America’s desire for fine wine. Following one last harvest in 1932, the vines were left to wither away, although you can still easily spot the vineyard’s footprint while flying over the east end of the island’s central valley.

<b>AMBITIOUS SMILES:</b>  This past fall, Alison Wrigley Rusack and Geoff Rusack celebrated the fifth harvest from their Catalina vineyard. “We are able to make our own contribution to the history and still keep alive all the things that have been done in the past and build on it for the future,” said Alison, whose family has owned much of the island for nearly a century. “I hope that all of the future generations will look at it that way. It’s not maintaining the status quo, but it’s adding new elements for the times we are in now.”
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

AMBITIOUS SMILES: This past fall, Alison Wrigley Rusack and Geoff Rusack celebrated the fifth harvest from their Catalina vineyard. “We are able to make our own contribution to the history and still keep alive all the things that have been done in the past and build on it for the future,” said Alison, whose family has owned much of the island for nearly a century. “I hope that all of the future generations will look at it that way. It’s not maintaining the status quo, but it’s adding new elements for the times we are in now.”

Seventy-five years later, along came Rusack and his wife, Alison Wrigley Rusack, probably the only couple on the planet with the wealth, property, and know-how to bring winemaking back to California’s Channel Islands. The former aviation attorney’s requisite experience comes from 20 years of running Rusack Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley, but Alison is responsible for the rest: Hailing from Chicago’s Wrigley family, the former Disney marketing executive inherited a considerable chunk of the chewing-gum company’s fortune, including more than 10 percent of Santa Catalina Island, the third largest of the Channel Islands archipelago, located off of the Los Angeles coastline nearly 100 miles south of Santa Cruz Island. The couple hatched the idea for an island winery while riding horses on Catalina during their second date ever in 1983, but it took a quarter-century of planning for that dream to sprout.

Today, while zinfandel is the historic heart of their Catalina Island Vineyard, the couple ​— ​who reside mostly at their Hope Ranch estate ​— ​is also growing pinot noir and chardonnay, this past autumn harvesting more than 11 tons of grapes for their fifth vintage from the five-plus acres of grapes that now surround the family’s El Rancho Escondido, which was once the island’s main equestrian facility. After five years of learning how to tackle formidable and screwball challenges ​— ​yellow jackets, crickets, mildew, wind, salt, foxes, deer, quail, and even bison have all plagued the grapes, which currently must be hauled in multiple plane flights to Santa Ynez each harvest ​— ​the Rusacks are finally feeling confident that their vineyard will thrive. So they’ve signed up for even more struggle by updating and rebuilding the old rancho, complete with an on-site winery and tasting room that they hope will become a must-see day trip for tourists staying over the mountain down in Avalon.

Given the decades of planning, the astronomical costs, and the insane logistics required to start a serious agricultural operation in the middle of an island, what the Rusacks are doing at Catalina’s El Rancho Escondido represents a Hearst Castle for the 21st century ​— ​certainly not as grandiose in terms of cement poured, architects employed, and expensive art hung, but a monumental undertaking built to last for generations by one of America’s tycoon families, and one that reflects the modern world’s fascination with how wine can directly connect us to special parts of the earth.

“This is very much a legacy project for us, which Catalina has been all along for my family because we care about it so much,” Alison told me last summer, as we walked past construction debris on a hill that overlooks the vineyard and western coast of the island. “Each generation seems to add its mark. We seem to be the building generation,” she said, joking that her three sons will probably never go near a contractor again. “As the years go on,” she explained, as we looked out over the green rows of grapes, “Catalina is going to be more and more unique because the world is running out of space.”

By Paul Wellman

ISLAND OF ISSUES: Running vineyards on the mainland is no piece of cake, but expenses soar and logistics get ridiculously complicated when doing the same thing on an island, even one that has a fair degree of development like Catalina, whose northwestern tip is seen above. “Just to get to Avalon is a challenge,” said Geoff. “The drive to the airport is a challenge. Where we staff our labor force from is a challenge. And then all the transportation needs of getting supplies there and getting the grapes off Catalina — that’s a challenge.”

A Tale of Two Islands

By the time explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo claimed the Channel Islands for Spain in 1542, the Chumash people had lived on Santa Cruz, which they call Limuw, for thousands of years and traded frequently with the Tongva people of Catalina, which they call Pimu, most notably for the soapstone chunks that Native Americans throughout California would turn into pipes, pots, and griddles. Both islands were considered and then rejected as sites for Spanish missions, and both became camping grounds for the Aleuts and Russians as they slaughtered sea otters to collect their valuable pelts.

Their trajectories diverge in the 1880s, which is when mainland developers from nearby Los Angeles started eyeing Catalina as a moneymaking tourist destination. A man from San Francisco named Justinian Caire had a different profit scheme in mind when he finally got the chance to see Santa Cruz in 1880, which was around the time that he had taken the controlling interest of the Santa Cruz Island Company, in which he first invested in 1869. Caire quickly began plotting an offshore agricultural kingdom based largely on sheep, cattle, and grapevines, which his family would eventually control for nearly 60 years.

In December 1884, while much of mainland California’s wine industry was getting hammered by the devastating effects of the pest phylloxera, Caire planted 4,000 vines from France, eventually experimenting with 20 different varietals, including the red grapes of cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, petite sirah, grenache, malbec, and mourvèdre and whites of chardonnay, riesling, muscat, and trousseau. He built an expansive winery whose red-brick shell still stands today and grew the operation into one of California’s most respected sources of quality fruit and finished wine, which was sold in bulk to wineries from Napa to Los Angeles, as well as directly to the Raffour House Hotel across from Santa Barbara City Hall.

The Rusacks upped the historical ante by finding, propagating, and planting zinfandel vines from Santa Cruz Island, which was home to one of California’s most respected vineyards in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some of the wine was bottled with the label above.
Click to enlarge photo

The Rusacks upped the historical ante by finding, propagating, and planting zinfandel vines from Santa Cruz Island, which was home to one of California’s most respected vineyards in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some of the wine was bottled with the label above.

“[T]he general conditions for viticulture were good to excellent, the vine stock was of the finest, and the winemakers and cellar men were the best that could be found …” writes Justinian’s descendent Frederic Caire Chiles in his exhaustive 2011 book Justinian Caire and Santa Cruz Island: The Rise and Fall of a California Dynasty. “For example, the zinfandel was noted for being a full-bodied wine, fermented to dryness, with a higher alcohol content ​— ​qualities sought after in many of today’s top zinfandels.” With lawsuits, tragedies, and money troubles starting to affect the Caire family, the winery stopped producing in 1918, but the grapes kept growing into Prohibition, with fruit sold mostly to home winemakers until the Great Depression wiped out the project for good in 1932.

Down on Catalina, chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. cashed in on the Banning brothers’ failed tourist mecca dreams by purchasing a large chunk of the island in 1919, and he set about enlivening Avalon with a bigger hotel and casino, improving the infrastructure, enhancing landscaping, and increasing transportation from the mainland. He also established a quarry and tile-making company that produced popular pottery, built El Rancho Escondido into a premier Arabian-horse-raising ranch, and brought the Chicago Cubs baseball team, which he also owned, to practice on the island every spring. Upon Wrigley’s death at age 70 in 1932, his son, Philip, took over administration of the island and, in 1972, created the Catalina Island Conservancy, thereby donating 88 percent of the land to be preserved as open space into perpetuity.

At that time (though living primarily in Chicago with her father, William Wrigley III, and family), Alison Wrigley would visit the island most summers, and decided to attend Stanford for college. She never left California, eventually working for Disney. On a blind date in 1983, she met Geoff Rusack, the son of a Los Angeles Episcopalian bishop, who had returned to Southern California for law school at Pepperdine, having graduated first from Maine’s Bowdoin College. On their second date, while riding horses around Catalina, they discussed one day starting an island winery, and the dream that would one day reconnect the sister islands was set in motion.

By Paul Wellman

HORSES TO GRAPES: When the Wrigley family decided to preserve most of the land as open space by creating the Catalina Island Conservancy in the 1970s, they retained ownership of El Rancho Escondido. Located just below the island’s mountaintop airport, the ranch is where past generations raised Arabian horses, and now home to about five acres of wine grapes.

Planting Problems, Harvesting Hell

Married with one kid and another on the way in 1992, the Rusacks started looking for a bigger house outside of Los Angeles and discovered Ballard Canyon Winery for sale. Though founded by dentist Gene Hallock in 1974 and warmly remembered by many for its annual grape-stomping parties, the 48-acre property was in “horrendous” shape, said Geoff, but they were intrigued. “It was before it was a chic thing to buy wineries,” said Alison, so the price was right. “We thought we’d run the winery on the side and keep our full-time jobs. We had no idea what we were getting into.”

With Alison working the books, Geoff got a crash course in grape growing, learning how to drive a tractor from regional pioneer Louis Lucas, and winemaking, with Richard Longoria leaving helpful tips on Post-it notes around the property. They replanted 17 acres on the vineyard’s “sweet spots,” said Geoff, and by 1995, the Rusack label ​— ​which features an old Catalina tile design ​— ​was on the market. But they kept returning to the idea of planting grapes around El Rancho Escondido, which was still owned privately by Alison’s family; Geoff’s drive was only empowered when he read Thomas Pinney’s book The Wine of Santa Cruz Island, published in 1994 by the Santa Cruz Island Foundation.

Meanwhile on Santa Cruz, The Nature Conservancy, which has owned the vast majority of the island since 1978, had its own problem: Many influential donors wanted the organization to bring the historic vineyard back to life, but it had neither the resources nor mission statement to do so. With rumors that the Rusacks were considering a vineyard on Catalina and wanted to look at Santa Cruz’s remnant vines ​— ​which had been identified years before by ranch manager Peter Schuyler and then found again by a subsequent manager David Dewey ​— ​Lotus Vermeer, who supervised the island for The Nature Conservancy at the time, was relieved. “This could be a very unique win-win situation where we can revise the history of winemaking and the old varietals on the Channel Islands and have somebody do it properly,” she told me during a trip to the island in 2012.

So Geoff and his sons Austin and Parker (their third son, Hunter, was away at college), climbed the island’s willow tree, took clippings, had them analyzed (one plant was the notoriously nasty mission grape variety), and propagated the zinfandel. In March 2007, after testing the climactic conditions and finding them much like the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, they started planting the zin as well as pinot noir and chardonnay into a vineyard at El Rancho Escondido. Wine grape expert Larry Finkle, who works with Coastal Vineyard Care, said that the biggest initial challenge was the salty soils, which forced them to create a “complex system of drains and berms” that has “worked quite well but requires continued diligence.” Then came the plagues of pests both microscopic (mildew, fixed with farming techniques) and massive (bison, fixed with fencing) and the extra expenses required to fly products and personnel to and from Catalina’s mountaintop airport. “There has been an amazing amount of dialing in, but we have figured out how to deal with each individual thing,” said Geoff, adding, as he knocked on the wood table inside the rancho’s modest adobe, “We’ve had challenges across the board, but as we move forward, there aren’t that many more things that can hit us.”

With that confidence, the Rusacks doubled down on their dream in 2012 by pursuing a revamp of the ranch ​— ​“This is 70 years of deferred maintenance,” said Geoff ​— ​with the addition of a working winery and tasting room, which has required permits and review from Los Angeles County, the Coastal Commission, the Catalina Island Conservancy, the fire department, electric and water utilities, and more, not to mention the need to import a “megaton” rock crusher that required the costly rental of dozens of steel plates. Altogether, the project will wind up costing many millions, with hopes to be done within three to five more years, at which point tourists will be able to ride a bus to the property and sip some wine.

By Paul Wellman

HARVEST RESEARCH: During a visit to Catalina this past August, Rusack winemaker Steve Gerbac grabbed a few grapes for testing, just one of the many steps to ensure the quality of the resulting wines. “Over the long run,” explained Geoff Rusack, “we want these grapes and this wine to be nothing short of world-class.”

So How’s It Taste?

Though the historical ties and unique nature of an island vineyard seem enough of a selling point, the Rusacks’ Catalina Island project is intently focused on producing quality wine, a goal that was established under former winemaker John Falcone and one that continues under current winemaker Steve Gerbac. Said Geoff, “We want these grapes and this wine to be nothing short of world-class.”

They are off to a good start: The chardonnay boasts a touch of pleasant salinity that Geoff calls “coastal freshness”; the pinot, said Gerbac, is heavier bodied than what comes out of Santa Maria Valley and the Sta. Rita Hills despite being made in similar ways; and the zin delivers intriguing spices not usually found on the mainland. They aren’t cheap ​— ​$65 for the chard and zin, $75 for the pinot ​— ​and there is some consumer resistance despite the saga behind the bottle and the limited supplies: They hope to eventually get as many as 600 cases from the vineyard each year, but the 2011 harvest only resulted in the current release of 145 cases of chard, 118 cases of pinot, and 62 of zinfandel. But those prices are miniscule compared to what each bottle really cost: Geoff once told me it was probably about $500 a bottle, but later clarified that it “would be almost impossible” to calculate.

The Catalina vineyard is much more than just wine, though, and even California’s preeminent historian agrees. “The whole story is a case study in our efforts to recover California, and not in a purely antiquated way, but to recover a usable, useful past, in this case making wine,” said Kevin Starr, prolific author and professor at University of Southern California. “It is a luxury project, energized by very wealthy people, but that’s okay ​— ​it fits into the pattern of recovering California.”

Despite the challenges past, present, and future, the Rusacks remain enthused over the ordeal. “When I get over there and I can take a deep breath and look out and see those vines, I am pretty much blown away,” said Geoff. “I can’t believe we did this.”

4•1•1

Visit Rusack Vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley at 1819 Ballard Canyon Road, call 688-1278, or see rusack.com.

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Independent Discussion Guidelines

Hmmm. Not a word of credit to the people who actually managed and did the work. That would be SAR Construction, based in Ventura. NO, that's not me.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2014 at 9 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Mind-boggling amount of money in the pursuit of self-indulgence.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2014 at 12:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

at long last, a story i can relate to. i too had wind challenges with my hanging tomato plant.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2014 at 2:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Wine...how unusual. What will they think of next?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2014 at 2:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

12 months a year of the best imaginable growing conditions, excellent soil, etc...and not one bite of food being grown.

I guess there isn't any quick and dirty profit in feeding people, so all the ground must be devoted to raising a product that converts to alcohol instead.

Says a lot about our society.

Holly (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2014 at 3:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

viticulture is an ancient art, & it's cool to move the Sta Cruz remnants to another similar island... remember, Bill, as you told ETR on the eternal foo thread: everyone's got a right to saw on about what they want to, and Indy readers really DO want to read about this stuff. In the superficial American Dream, they THEY join the top they might like to do this wine this growing wine thing. Like you, I do not drink.
A side-bar topic [sub-thread as JT says] is that when a wealthy family like the Wrigley's got great PR and huge tax breaks (and tax relief) when they "gave" 88% of Catalina to the non-profit conservancy, they yet retained El Rancho Escondido...now the wealthy Rusack heirs "play" with the fascinating propagation of the not-very-old (1884) red wines from Justin Caire's [& later Carey Stanton's] old fiefdom, Santa Cruz Island. Isn't this just hyper-wealthy 1%-ers disporting among the vines for their own pleasure and for the palates of friends..? There isn't much acreage at El Rancho Escondido, and Kettmann's excellent article nicely highlights how the hyper-rich "give" to conservancy's but retain the coolest part for themselves. --this angle is a good one for tabatha, and better than your typical scorn, Bill.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2014 at 3:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

California WINE FACTS

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History...

Starting in the early 1830s, commercial viticulture in California was mostly based in Southern California.[4] California's first documented imported European wine vines were planted in Los Angeles in 1833 by Jean-Louis Vignes, the first commercial wine maker in the state. William Wolfskill, another major early wine maker in California, purchased his first vineyard in 1838 in the Los Angeles area. By 1858 he owned 55,000 vines across 145 acres.[5] Vignes and Wolfskill were the two major figures in California wine making in the 1830s and 1840s. Their success attracted others and increased interest in wine cultivation in Southern California.[6]

Current European Wine is really from American root stock

In 1863, species of native American grapes were taken to Botanical Gardens in England. These cuttings carried a species of root louse called phylloxera which attacks and feeds on the vine roots and leaves. Phylloxera is indigenous to North America and native vine varieties had developed resistance. European vines had no such evolutionary protection. By 1865, phylloxera had spread to vines in Provence. Over the next 20 years, it inhabited and decimated nearly all the vineyards of Europe. Many methods were attempted to eradicate phylloxera but all proved temporary and none economical.
Finally Thomas V. Munson, a horticulturist in Texas, suggested grafting the European vinifera vines onto American riparia rootsocks. So, there began a long, laborious process of grafting every wine vine in Europe over to American rootstocks. It was only in this manner that the European wine industry could be retrieved from extinction.

Wine in the USA can be full of Chemicals.

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?...

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2014 at 4:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Nothing better than taking a couch nap in a bonded warehouse full of wine bottles, the aroma is heavenly - its alive - at least the organic grown and naturally bottled wine.

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2014 at 4:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I only met Dr. Stanton twice, he was a grade school mate, of an old family friend. What a hoot.

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2014 at 4:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

and his buddy Henry! wild man.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2014 at 5:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I met Al Lewis (Grampa Munster) he was a groovy guy.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2014 at 1:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I saw Jim Carry's girlfriend step in doo doo in downtown Santa Barbara. She was angry.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2014 at 1:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hitler.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 9:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Wine is healthy. Not only does it have anti-oxident properties that can help keep the heart healthy and help keep the body lighter on toxins, It also helps people relax. Stress is a major cause of all sorts of disease.

I don't think it is that unreasonable that people spend their money on something that helps them loosen up, socialize, relax and is healthy for the body. I don't think it says anything negative about society as a whole.

People should be encouraged to drink responsibly, but no amount of banning - whether it be permits to allow alcohol to be sold on the premises (unconstitutional - right to assemble), banning the marketing of alcohol (unconstitutional - free speech), or altogether banning alcohol will keep people from producing and consuming it in large quantities.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 12:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Loonpt: What does "drink responsibly" mean?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 2:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Drinking responsibly simply means drinking without hurting other people.

If you are going to drink, it is better not to drive at all. But if someone decides they are going to do it, they better be in control of themselves and put all of their focus and attention into driving. They need to know their limits. If you have passengers that are drunk, you should definitely try to reduce your alcohol consumption before driving because your passengers will likely be loud and distracting.

If we were out in the country away from major highways, I would be ok with a person driving home with a relatively high BAC if they were doing so in a safe manner. This may include driving 10-15 mph , tucked over into the right side of the road in case anybody needs to safely pass. Of course, this doesn't really work very well here in our area, even up in the Valley, but in places that have higher populations you have alternatives such as a taxi. Unfortunately our taxis are so highly regulated that the prices are near double what they are in some other areas where taxis are also regulated. Can you imagine how cheap they would be in a truly free market? You would have way more taxi services with much cheaper prices serving a lot more people.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 3:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Loon, you are so predictable--so typical of the mentality of those who drink and drive.

My question of course was rhetorical because "drink responsibly" is a cliche used by the alcohol industry and those who drink and drive to make themselves look responsible even as they drink and drive.

What part of "don't drink and drive" don't you get? What part of not being able to judge your own sobriety do you (people) not get? Do you really think those who cause accidents intend to do so? No, they (like you) think they "know when to say when" and then their luck runs out.

Why is it *so* hard for people to seperate drinking from driving?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 5 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Some people are able to gauge their own sobriety very well and are able to drink and drive responsibly. They may have a very strict personal limit of X drinks over X period of time before driving and never have and never will get into a car accident or cause anybody harm. In fact, they may have better driving skills during their time driving buzzed than 10%, 25% or even 50% of the sober people out on the road. Some people are really good drivers to begin with and alcohol may not impair them to the point where they are worse than many other sober drivers out on the road.

If a buzzed driver A has better skills than sober driver B and buzzed driver A is following the traffic laws why on earth should they be punished?

The problem is when you get somebody who is a poor driver sober and/or gets too caught up in the moment to step back and say, "hey, I'm operating a dangerous vehicle here and I've had X drinks, maybe I should be REALLY careful".

So your suggestion is to punish everybody, because you believe that everybody who has one drink and then drives a car an hour or two later is 'irresponsible', but that's just your opinion. In my opinion, it is the people who are irresponsible to begin with who then make the decision to drink too much or to continue to party in their car with their friends while they drive. These are the ones you have to worry about.

Remember in school when one person did something wrong and the teacher punished you and everyone else in the class even though you didn't do anything wrong and had no idea who did? Is that how our government should act?

loonpt (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 5:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

agree BC, and more government rules and more severe penalties for DUIs are need, even libertarians admit this. When loon writes "Some people are able to gauge their own sobriety very well and are able to drink and drive responsibly[.]" -- I agree, but he accepts there also "some" who cannot. Like mentally disabled people with weapons, we let these bozos into cars which sometimes kill others. More severe penalties, here, please.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 6:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Loonpt: None of your talk about harsher penalties, the government, or statistics is what I'm talking about. What I'm pointing out is that since alcohol affects one's ability to accuratly judge whether or not they are safe to drive, that's it's better that they don't mix drinking with driving, and also that the alcohol industry's Mantra of "drink responsibly" is just a way of getting themselves off the hook. If they were to say "don't drink and drive" then I have no problem.

I don't think harsher penalties are the answer, I think the answer is to speak the truth to the lie that it's ok to drink and drive, which is what I'm doing, but according to you, it's ok to drink and drive.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 7:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

By the way Loon, I have lots of experience with drunks and lawyers who try to knock people off-topic with their Red Herrings so if you think that's going to work here you're in for a frustrating battle.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 7:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"If a buzzed driver A has better skills than sober driver B and buzzed driver A is following the traffic laws why on earth should they be punished?"

^That is certainly no red herring.

Logically if you have a sobriety limit, you should then take a relatively highly skilled driver at .08 and anybody who performs worse than them sober should not be allowed to drive. Ever. But we allow people with relatively poor driving skills on the road. They are usually more cautious and drive slower, but not always. But if they are more cautious and driver slower (not too slow) then they will likely avoid accidents. Just as somebody who is buzzed and can think and compensate for the fact that they have worse judgement about their sobriety and are still able to do a good job doing so and can drive safely when they are drunk, they should be allowed to do so.

Here is a beltway libertarian argument for abolishing DUI laws and replacing them with DWI laws:

http://reason.com/archives/2010/12/31...

loonpt (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 10:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Here's an important excerpt from the above article:

http://reason.com/archives/2010/12/31...

"Once the 0.08 standard took effect nationwide in 2000, alcohol-related traffic fatalities increased, following a 20-year decline.

Critics of the 0.08 standard predicted this would happen. The problem is that most people with a BAC between 0.08 and 0.10 don’t drive erratically enough to be noticed by police officers in patrol cars. So police began setting up roadblocks to catch them. But every cop manning a sobriety checkpoint aimed at catching motorists violating the new law is a cop not on the highways looking for more seriously impaired motorists. By 2004 alcohol-related fatalities went down again, but only because the decrease in states that don’t use roadblocks compensated for a slight but continuing increase in the states that use them.

These constitutionally dubious checkpoints have become little more than revenue generators for local governments. When local newspapers inquire about specific roadblocks after the fact, they inevitably find lots of fines for minor infractions but few drunk drivers. In 2009, according to a story at the investigative journalism site California Watch and data from the University of California at Berkeley, 1,600 sobriety checkpoints in California generated $40 million in fines, $30 million in overtime pay for cops, 24,000 vehicle confiscations, and just 3,200 arrests for drunk driving. A typical nightly checkpoint would divert 20 or more cops from other tasks while yielding a dozen or more vehicle confiscations but only about three drunk driving arrests."

Bill should also appreciate the beginning of the article that I skipped where it states that people with BACs of as low as .05 should be punished if they are driving impaired. Some people are impaired at .05, but not everybody. Why treat everybody the same?

loonpt (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 10:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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