Gavin Newsom Stars in Video Touting His Winery a Day After Vetoing Booze Fee

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And if more of you buy my environmentally friendly, low-tax wines, I'll be richer still...
One day after San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom vetoed a fee on alcohol sales aimed at paying for  treatment of chronic drunks, he starred in a video on Forbes Magazine's website touting a Napa Valley winery he co-owns.

The video describes how Cade Winery, which Newsom launched in 2006 with oil billionaire Gordon Getty and vintner John Conover, was built with extra insulation and additional windows so as to save energy. These are the kinds of things you need to do to earn the second-highest rating under the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED resource-conservation standard.

Newsom tells a Forbes videographer that it was his idea to seek the energy conservation rating, and that his partners were skeptical at first.

"They said, what are you even talking about," Newsom says in one of several different shots of of the mayor taken on the winery's Angwin, Calif., grounds. "They had a pessimistic reaction after they found out what I was talking about. Then there was the question, 'What is it going to cost?'"

The day before Forbes' posted Sept. 22 online piece featuring the video, "California's Greenest Winery", Newsom vetoed legislation that would have levied a fee of an estimated five cents per glass for wine sold in San Francisco. He said the tax would hurt struggling businesses.

Newsom's own interests include stakes in winery holding company Villa Encinal Partners, LP, where Newsom is President; a stake in the winery holding company Moswen LLC; and interest in the winery holding company Airelle Wines Inc. Each of these companies is valued at more than $1 million according to Newsom's March, 2010 Statement of Economic Interest filed with California's Fair Political Practices Commission.

Potential criticism of Newsom's apparently conflicting business and public-service roles has been diffused over the years with the oft-stated claim that Newsom has taken no active part in his businesses while city supervisor or mayor.

However, Cade's website says construction of the winery -- which Newsom claims was guided by his own insistence on energy-saving designs and materials -- began in the summer of 2006, two and a half years after he became mayor.

Also apparently excluded from the concept of "taking an active part in running the business": Making a four-hour round trip between San Francisco and Anguin to meet with a Forbes video crew, and spending part of a day helping produce what ended up being a public relations piece valuable to the winery's bottom line.


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Matt Smith
Er, make that Lieutenant Governor

After shots of Newsom describing his role in the winery's design and construction, the Forbes video shows the mayor posing for a grip-n-grin at the winery with his partners as they hold a LEED environmental certification trophy.

A narrator then explains that the winery uses recycled materials and has wall outlets for electric cars, before winery manager John Conover walks into the shot to confirm that co-owner Newsom's management decisions were right after all.

"What makes us different than everybody else?," Conover asks. "It has to be about wine, about hospitality, about architecture. And it has to be about being green."

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