160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! By The Associated Press SANTA BARBARA – A year of cool, dry weather has left Central Coast vineyards scrambling for grapes to make the popular pinot noir. “People are panicked and clamoring for pinot noir grapes on the Central Coast,” said Kirby Anderson, winemaker at Gainey Wineries. “Gainey is scrambling to meet our quotas with our low yields.” Some wineries are picking the red grapes prematurely because of shriveled and dehydrated vines. The shortage could lead to rising prices, but most wineries use nonnegotiable, prearranged contracts that should stem the immediate effect, vintners said. Pinot noir was already rising in popularity when the 2004 film “Sideways” – set in the Santa Barbara area – gave its profile a huge boost, and winemakers in the region have been devoting increasing acreage to the fragile berry. “A lot of people put all their eggs in one basket and planted pinot noir the most because it was so popular,” Anderson said. But some local wine experts say the small crop will bring a better product, because lighter clusters can mean a tastier grape. “It’s nature; there’s only so much that can be done,” said Jim Fiolek, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association.
Licenced bars and similar establishments will soon be able to legally remain open for longer hours as a result of amendments, which are to be made to the Spirit Licencing Act. Making the announcement on Wednesday at the Jamaica House press briefing, at the Office of the Prime Minister, Justice Minister, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, explained that, “for some time the prescribed opening hours for licenced establishments have been a cause of confrontation and problems between bar owners, and patrons and the police.” “Representation was made from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) after meeting with bar owners in St. Thomas and other parishes for an adjustment to be made to the opening hours,” the Minister added. The present opening hours are from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and on Sundays the hours for taverns are between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Hotels on the other hand, are allowed to open from 7:00 a.m. until midnight any day of the week. The proposal is to amend the Spirit Licensing Act to allow the Minister to fix the opening and closing hours of licensed establishments, by way of Order, which will be subject to affirmative Resolution of both Houses of Parliament. “The opening and closing hours will not be fixed in the legislation, but by way of Order which, over time, can be adjusted if necessary. Cabinet has approved the policy to inform the Order, which will allow establishments to be able on Mondays through Saturdays to open (from 7:00 a.m.) until midnight and from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Sundays,” Minister Golding outlined. Opening hours for hotels remain the same and the criteria for licences will not be reviewed at this time. Senator Golding noted that while an overall review of the spirit licensing regime is to be done, for now this amendment seeks to deal with a specific social problem, which was becoming a law enforcement issue.