Wineries Aren’t Bars

I have a multiple-choice question for you. Where did I find the following passage: “Caymus is one of the most celebrated winemakers in California. A leader in the state’s $40 billion wine industry, Caymus is world famous for its Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, the only wine ever honored twice as Wine Spectator magazine’s ‘Wine of the Year.’ With all of its success, Caymus remains a family-run business.”

A – An ad in California Wine.

B – The San Francisco Chronicle

C – The personal journal of a too-happy lawyer quoted in a State Bar discipline ruling.

D – A Covid-19 lawsuit.

Yes, obviously, the answer is D. Just because you’re suing someone doesn’t mean you can’t do a little self-promotion.

The complaint, in case you’re wondering, was filed recently in federal court in Northern California against the governor and the state public health officer over discrimination against wineries that don’t serve food.

According to the complaint, the state’s orders allowing businesses to reopen included winery tasting rooms — but only if they provide sit-down, dine-in meals. “Defendants cannot offer a good reason for failing to trust wineries to follow health guidelines in their indoor and outdoor tasting areas, even while they trust toy stores, restaurants, and florists to do the same.”

And this violates the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. Napa Valley wineries are yet another oppressed minority that cries out for justice.

Bars, though, can’t reopen either without serving meals. Apparently, the winery plaintiff doesn’t think it’s in the same class as those businesses.

Class definition is a complex and perplexing topic. Noted the complaint: “Unless wineries serve such sit-down, dine-in meals, the (state’s) Guidance categorizes them as a form of forbidden ‘hospitality services,’ akin to bars and lounges.”

Sniff.

Apparently. drinking alcohol at a winery is more like eating at a restaurant than like drinking alcohol at a bar. This may sound snooty but the tasting fee at Caymus is $50 per person — so, yes, it is snooty.

In case you’re wondering, the suit says that Napa County’s zoning law doesn’t allow most tasting rooms to serve food. I have no idea why.

I’m guessing this may have been resolved (or at least explained) by the time you read this, but let’s speculate about what’s going on here. My default guess about almost anything is that nobody really thought about this or expected litigation.

Or maybe the scientific data show that drunken people who haven’t eaten anything are less likely to wash their hands or keep their hands off other people.

I have to admit the state policy seems a little shortsighted. We could all use some socially distanced wine these days. Maybe if we brought our own sandwiches …

Secret government documents. Those of you who enjoy conspiracy theories — both reading about them and making them up — should take a look at a Florida federal court ruling on a government effort to keep a secret.

The secret — whatever it is — is contained in 357 documents relating to the “Florida Keys mole skink.” A federal agency going by the name of the “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service” went to court to protect its skink records.

One can only imagine why — so let’s do it. The easy explanation is that a mole skink is some sort of spy or informant, but I don’t think that’s it. It’s too obvious.

The key is in the agency name: “Fish and Wildlife.” It has to be a government catfishing operation designed to lure lefty groups into costly litigation.

It’s insidious.

Ten years ago I wrote: “A malpractice complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against a psychologist the other day contained a list of alleged abuses including ‘instructing plaintiff on how to work successfully as a prostitute, including how to dress sexy, what to charge, what to wear, how to avoid getting arrested, and what sex acts men particularly like.’”

Ah, the good old pre-virus days.

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