Agriculture: The Wine Portfolio

Beset by sagging sales, the government and a new bug, California's vintners try to promote their wares

An old adage has it that the way to make a small fortune in the wine business is to start with a large fortune. For all its aura of romance, making wine is an enterprise fraught with woes -- both man-made and natural. Government regulators have been acting lately as if wine were as much of a health hazard as tobacco. Even in sunny, bountiful California, frosts can shrivel vulnerable young grape buds. Untimely rains can ruin a harvest. And periodically, vineyards are assaulted by plagues of voracious insects.

Grape growers in Northern California have not one but two of these...

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