Places like California are known for growing grapes that have been around for more than a century. But there are new types of grapes that have only been around for decade or two and are allowing wine to be made in places never imagined before -- like colder Midwest states.
One winemaker who’s joining the northern wine region is Dave Anthony. He and his wife, own and run a four and a half-acre vineyard and winery in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, near the northern Lake Michigan shore.
Anthony says people were pretty surprised when he said he wanted to start a winery so far north 15 years ago.
“I think there’s some shock out there, that it actually works,” Anthony says. “The first reaction was beyond 'are you crazy?': 'It’s just stupidity, total stupidity.'”
Because the winters are cold here. This winter, temperatures in January and February were often well below zero.
But Anthony is growing what is called "cold hardy" wine grapes, and they can withstand 25 below zero temperatures. Many of these wine grapes were created by the University of Minnesota. It released its first cold hardy grape in 1996. Since then, Minnesota tripled the number of wineries in the state to 30. Iowa more than tripled the amount of grapes it’s growing.
But Anthony says the biggest challenge is the lack of name recognition for his wines.
“Who's ever heard of Marquette or La Cresent?” Anthony says.
But there already is a developed wine region in Michigan, it’s farther south near Lake Michigan, around Traverse City. It's a bit warmer there so the vineyards can grow the European varieties like Merlot and Pinot Grigio.
Charlie Edson is the owner and winemaker at Bel Lago winery near Traverse City.
He grows 100 varieties of grapes on his vineyard, including some cold hardy grapes. But he says customers like to buy wines with names that they know.
“I think it is marketable in certain circumstances. In our circumstances I probably wouldn’t go that route because consumers don’t know what those varieties are,” Edson says.
Edson says the biggest criticism of these new grapes - at least in terms of taste - is that they don’t have the same structure and character as the centuries old wines, like cabernet.
But Edson says cold hardy grapes are a type of crop insurance, considering how cold this winter was.
“There is winter injury in the vineyards right now, in most vineyards, and I can tell you the cold hardy varieties -- they laughed in the face of this winter, so we will have full crops of cold hardy varieties which is terrific,” Edson says.
That is not the case for most of the European varieties this year.
But back on the northern side of Lake Michigan, Anthony thinks this might be a wakeup call for grape growers, which might allow cold hardy grapes to expand and grow even further in the future.
Capital Y; lower case O.
It's a new messaging app with a twist, I guess you could say. You can text somebody else with the Yo app. But all you can say is...Yo.
Here's the yo-crazy part: The guy who built it has moved from Israel to San Francisco. He's opened an office and hired staff. He's looking for "strategic partners."
And he's raised a million dollars from investors.
C'mon...tell me we're not in a tech bubble.
I dare you.
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He created a rhythmic style that combined R&B, gospel and jazz that became known as "hard bop," and performed with such jazz greats as Stan Getz and Miles Davis.
During World War II, the Navy hired thousands of workers for its San Francisco Bay Area shipyards. Many were black migrants from the South who settled in the city's Fillmore District -- a neighborhood left with vacancies because of the internment of Japanese-Americans.
A vibrant black community flourished, and music venues opened up on nearly every block, hosting jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Mingus, and Duke Ellington. The Fillmore District was nicknamed the Harlem of the West.
In those years, if you were a black visitor to San Francisco, you most likely made a pilgrimage to Marcus Books. In 1956, the NAACP convention came to town, and Reverend Amos Brown -- then just 15-years-old -- was a delegate from Mississippi traveling with his mentor, civil rights hero Medger Evers. It was the first time Brown met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and the first time he visited Marcus Books.
“It was an iconic institution of culture, information, sociopolitical empowerment,” Brown reminisced. “Many international scholars and thinkers and civil rights leaders appeared at Marcus bookstore.”
The store began as a publishing company, printing hard-to-find texts from black leaders like Marcus Garvey, whom the bookstore was named after.
San Francisco poet Devorah Major says her father first brought her to Marcus Books when she was two years old. Later, the store was crucial to her career as a writer.
“I did readings when my first novel went out at Barnes & Noble, and they didn’t care -- I’d have five, or six, or ten people there,” she said. “I went to Marcus, and it was standing room only. It also is a measure of support, and those turn into sales.”
Marcus Books got into financial trouble last year, and the owners couldn’t afford to keep the store open. They tried a crowdfunding campaign to help raise money to buy back the property, and their supporters rallied on the steps of City Hall. But Reverend Amos Brown says the store’s problems started long before this. Business took a hit as San Francisco’s black residents moved out.
“We’ve lost over 50,000 since 1970, and that’s tragic,” Brown said recently when I talked to him in his office at San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church, where he arrived as pastor in 1976. In the 1960s and '70s, city redevelopment policies displaced thousands of African Americans, and segregation often made it difficult to find new housing.
Brown is now the president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP. The city, he says, is not as liberal and friendly towards African-Americans as its reputation might suggest.
“When it comes to employment, education, and housing opportunities, it’s not the ideal place to be in. If there is not a positive effort made to work with the African-American community to stop this hemorrhaging, I predict that in the next 5 to 10 years, there will not be 20,000 blacks left in this city.”
Black residents began leaving long before the current tech boom in the city, which has only made housing rentals even more difficult to secure. Mayor Ed Lee has committed to building 30,000 new affordable housing units in by 2020. Today, most of San Francisco’s black residents are low income renters.
Theodore Miller is director of San Francisco’s Out-Migration Initiative, the government’s latest attempt to retain black residents. One of Miller’s priorities is attracting young, college educated African-Americans to the city.
“We know the city of San Francisco is experiencing record growth across industries, and we need to make sure that African-Americans throughout the country think about San Francisco as a place to live and grow and raise their families,” he said.
But even if a new wave of black residents settles here, they’ll arrive in a city without many black-owned businesses. And Marcus Books in San Francisco won't be one of them -- it's gone for good.
Bloomberg Businessweek contributor Charles Graeber spent 10 days in Kenya with only one requirement: to not use his wallet -- and to pay for everything by phone.
"I've never gone to Africa and I've never paid for anything with my phone," he said. So, intrigued by Kenya's M-pesa system ("M" stands for mobile and "pesa" means payment in Swahili). The system allows users to transfer money from phone-to-phone through text messages. Once Graeber landed in Kenya, it took him fifteen minutes to get set up with a phone, SIM card and become a client of the country’s largest mobile provider, Safaricom.
Charles was able to use his phone to pay for his taxi, book his hotel and even haggle down meat prices from the local market. This use of payment has become widely popular since its launch in 2007.
"Something like 93 percent of Kenyans with mobile phones have this... The truth is it's an alternative to banking... it is quickly becoming people's bank accounts. In fact, some people will keep their money on a SIM card, and then take that SIM card out and keep it in a cookie jar, sort of as a virtual savings account."
While the majority of Kenyans are using this method of payment, the U.S. has yet to adopt a system like this. It’s a shame, at least for Charles, who says he’s already missing it.
"You walk out the door only needing your phone… and your wallet is one less thing to forget."
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Jason Speer, President of Quality Float Works Inc., a float metal ball manufacturing company, has travelled several times to Iraq since their expansion into the troubled country:
"People still don’t even believe me, I have to show them some pictures," says Speer, about his business trips to Iraq.
Speer says he saw investing in Iraq as an opportunity.
"The country needs to be rebuilt," says Speer. "Everything has been destroyed over the years of neglect. I think there are a lot of opportunities for American businesses especially."
Doing business in Iraq is definitely not easy. Just shipping the float metal balls can be a tricky process. Speer says they work with a local business man that assists with the logistics of getting their product into the country, but sometimes their products sit for weeks at a time, just waiting for the paperwork to be handled and to be cleared.
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.
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