Tools of the Trades

photo: colchester lathe

Totally unlike a corkscrew, this lathe for milling steel.

Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc

Paris:- Saturday, 14. December 2002:- Thomas Jefferson called wine 'a necessary of life,' perhaps because he was in the grape growing business on his Monticello estate. He also encouraged the importing of wine to America. He picked up the habit of drinking the good stuff while hanging out with Ben Franklin at the café Le Procope in Paris.

But long after Jefferson's time, the ratification of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution in 1933, essentially decreed that the states could control the flow of alcohol within individual states - and prevent its import from other states, if they wished.

So alcohol, and journalism, have their own Constitutional provisions, governed by the 21st and 1st Amendments respectively. More than a few journalists have been known to drink a bit, sometimes while crossing state lines.

Twenty-five years ago there were 500 wineries in the United States. Today they number over 2700 and they produce 10,000 new labels a year. Most are small, with 80 percent of them producing less than 25,000 cases per year.

There are so many wines that if only one bottle of each wine was displayed, their bottles would fill a third of most supermarket shelves. It is a situation that the traditional three-tier system of distribution - winery to wholesaler to retailer - cannot deal with to satisfy all customers.

States and wholesalers that like the restrictive shipping rules argue that banning or restricting interstate wine sales prevents 18-year olds from buying 20 dollar bottles of wine from out-of-state - as if they cannot buy five buck plonk sold in their own states.

Last Tuesday, federal court Judge Richard M. Berman issued an injunction against New York State's ban against the direct - meaning mail-order or Web-order - shipments from out-of-state wineries to customers in New York state. The ban was ruled unconstitutional.

However, the ruling was stayed for 30 days to allow for an appeal against his ruling. If New York State does not file an appeal within the time limit, the ban will be lifted.

Even if the state appeals, it looks like the lifting of the ban is only a matter of time. Courts in Virginia andphoto: bottle-eye machine North Carolina have decided the ban is unconstitutional. The Federal Trade Commission is looking at the situation - trying to decide if the bans restrain free trade within the United States.

This wierd-looking gizmo puts corks into champagne bottles.

In some states the courts have been making contradictory rulings. It is possible the Supreme Court will step in because it has hinted it has little patience with protectionism by the states.

Two direct-shipping advocacy groups, the Coalition for Free Trade and the Institute for Justice, have been instrumental in presenting free trade arguments before the courts. Lawsuits are also pending against the bans in Texas and Florida.

Back at 'The Shed'

This is a quiet time of year in 'The Shed' at the Moonlight winery. This was purpose-built for making wine by a whole taskforce of different contractors, but did not eliminate an older 'shed,' which is still full of working tools.

After the excitement of the recent visit to Las Vegas, Allan was asked by a neighbor to help out with making some parts for the restoration of an antique French biplane, that is destined for a resting spot in a flight museum's hanger.

Thus, the 'trusty' Colchester 13x40-inch lathe pictured at the top of this page is a smaller cousin to the bigger lathe that used to be 'parked' on the flatdeck of the winery's bigger truck - 'The Slug.'

Allan is using this lathe to machine a couple of motor-mounts for the aircraft's engine. Luckily he has two original pieces to use as models. The new pieces will be identical to the original ones - except for being made with much stronger, modern steel.

This sort of precision metal machining contrasts sharply with the intuitive type of 'feeling' required for making good wine - but one doesn't cancel out the other.

The other tool featured on today's page shows various views of the corking machine. Allan has explained how it functions in great detail by telephone, but even with the photos I can't figure it out - so I have added the photo of the corks themselves, which shows the agglomerated tops with the manufacturers' trademarks.

Allan does not make his own corks. These he gets from some people he knows well in Epernay, in Champagne.

About Café Metropoleô Blanc de Blanc

The Abbreviated Philosophy
by Allan Pangborn

Kennewick:- My goal for the Moonlight Sparkling Wine Cellar is to produce the best sparkling wine possible in Washington State.

My ideal of the perfect wine is one you drink with friends and the bottle is empty before you know it. In other words, you don't focus on the wine but it is a pleasing accompaniment to the enjoyable things in life. Sipping Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc at the café La Corona in Paris would be pretty close to perfection.*

Visits to Moonlight

If you wish to visit 'The Shed,' please contact me prior to your visit. The laws controlling alcohol, tobacco and firearms probably account for 3/4ths of all the laws ever written in the USA. The fact that I must be notified before your visit is one of them!

Ordering and Shipping

Cafe Metropoleô Sparkling Wine is available now to the residents of the following States -

California, Colorado, Hawaii,photo: four champagne corks Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

There are two packages available:

Two 750 ml bottles for $52.00

Six 750 ml bottles for $136.00

The price includes packaging, handling and shipping costs. Shipment will be by UPS '3-day Select' and an adult signature is required for delivery.

Overnight or two-day shipment is an option. The shipping charge will be slightly more, so email your order to and include your ZIP Code so I can tell you the actual cost.

Terms: Payment by check or money order, to 'Cafe Metropole' is acceptable. It should be mailed to :

Cafe Metropole, 4704 West 12th Avenue, Kennewick, WA 99338

As the winery is just beginning operations, we do not yet have the means to process credit cards. We will be adding this servicephoto: cafe metropole bdeb label in the near future. Until then, we will appreciate your use of a check or money order.

Thank you.

Allan Pangborn, Winemaker
Café Metropole Blanc de Blancô
Moonlight Sparkling Wine Cellar, LLC
4704 West 12th Avenue
Kennewick, WA 99338 USA
Tel.: 509 - 735 72 37
Tours by appointment only.

What This Is About

All the past 'news' and lore about Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc and the Moonlight Sparkling Wine Cellar can be found with the links below.

The Metropole Paris issue of eight weeks ago introduced the new Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine here for almost the first time in world history. It make a brief appearance in a prototype form last December in New York, but in Metropole's issue 7.43 in late October it 'came out' officially.

This was followed up with some fascinating details about the wineryphoto: grapes itself, which is brand-new, constructed especially for this wine. The story continued with a report about a 'cold snap' that didn't affect Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc because of the new wood-burning stove in 'The Shed,' as the winery is called by Allan.

Five weeks ago, Allan's account of the wine's first public tasting was featured. More recently, a small champagne vocabulary was provided, with some news about possible changes to laws in New York about ordering wines from out of state.

*This was followed with Allan's philosophy about this particular sparkling wine, and his attitude to making wine in general. He has been working on this for 30 years and now he is putting it into practice.

Last week, just for fun, Allan took Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc to Nevada, so the wine could have a look at the replica of Paris there. A good time was had by all and Allan did not go home broke.

Photos © Allan Pangborn
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