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April 1st, 2010
In what it hopes will become an annual event, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has announced the first Cells Of Hope: A Celebration of Artisanal Prison Wines. The press release, posted just hours ago, calls upon ‘home’ winemakers currently residing in medium security penitentiaries throughout California to submit samples of their wines. A distinguished international panel of celebrity experts will then convene later this month on Alcatraz Island for an informal Lecture Series and Grand Tasting, capped by an Awards ceremony and raffle. The public is invited.
Award Categories include:
Best Fruit Wine
Best Non-Fruit Wine
Most Wine-Like Wine
Additional Technical Awards will be handed out for:
Best Use of Clothing
Best Hiding Place
Most Creative Commissary Smuggle
Best Yeast Source
Award Winners will receive a year’s subscription to the Wine Advocate.
Lecturers will include Pancho Campo (subject to availability) on The Prison Wines of Iberia ; Gary Vaynerchuk on I KNOW Why the Caged Bird Tweets! Using Social Media To WIN Early Parole, Michel Rolland on Multi-Flush Toilet Micro-Oxygenation, and Robert Parker will close the evening with a talk on Boosting Alcohol Levels With Popular Candies.
From the official press release:
“Formerly hidden from view, ‘Pruno’, as it is affectionately known within our prison system, represents an untapped spirit of excellence that flows through the veins of nearly everyone within our walls. Cells of Hope: A Celebration of Artisanal Prison Wines aspires to promote the creativity of what may be accomplished with the simplest tools, food scraps, and lots of time.
In keeping with California’s long tradition of home winemaking, it seems only right to tap into a great and endlessly renewed pool of talent residing within our walls.”
Believed to be the first of its kind in United States history, well-known wine industry booster and program supporter Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar said today,
“Cells of Hope will not only reaffirm California’s special place in the wine world, but it will also highlight our state’s continued commitment to innovation. If it is not being done here, it is not worth doing.”
Asked of potential criticism of the event, Gov. Schwarzenegger said,
“Have you seen my poll numbers?”
At a hastily called news conference, California Dept. of Corrections spokesperson Dusty Dubois responded to the swarm of stinging state Republican tweets that the program would cost too much.
“Not a single dollar of taxpayer money will be spent on Cells of Hope. I am pleased to announce that the entire operational budget has been underwritten by none other than California’s own Fred Franzia of the Bronco Wine Company.”
Ms. Dubois added that Mr. Franzia had also assumed the responsibilities for the writing and free distribution of a bi-lingual handbook with the amateur winemaker/inmate in mind. Copies were provided to the assembled press corps, and among the many lavishly illustrated chapters there may be found,
— Don’t Throw That Away! Harnessing the Power of Wild Yeasts
— Moisture Is My Friend
— What’s With All the Bubbles?
— Common Juice Toxins and How to Detect Them
— Paper or Plastic? The Pros and Cons of Filtration Media
— I Don’t Want to Wait! The Beneficial Effects of Aging
— Trojans Or Aluminum Foil? The Closure Debate
— How To Be Greener In the Big House
— Happy Endings. Why Parker Points Matter
— Exercise Yard Terroirs
Late Breaking Development
Perhaps still smarting from the 1976 Paris Tasting smack down, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has late today announced a tentative agreement with California to participate in the Artisanal Prison Wines’ competition next year. Said Mr. Sarkozy, “We have many more winemakers in prison than does California. Victory will be ours!”
Last year’s effort: Robert Parker Accused of Wine Boarding.