Liquor Industry News

Trouble Brewing: The Craft Beer Vs. ‘Crafty’ Beer Cat Fight


Source: Time Magazine

By Brad Tuttle

Dec. 27, 2012


Tired of watching mainstream beer sales fall while the craft beer craze soared, large international companies like MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev have hijacked the playbook of small, independent brewers. The results are faux “crafty” beers like Blue Moon and Shock Top, which appear to be created by smalltime operations, while actually being produced by the world’s largest brewers. Naturally, the authentic little guys aren’t pleased.


In 2011, total beer sales fell by 1.3% by volume in the U.S. Craft beer sales, however, rose by 13%. So-called “crafty” beers owned by mass-market brewers also fared well: Blue Moon sales increased 21% year-over-year.


While mom-and-pop brewers generally earn their reputations as laidback types-often starting businesses in their basement, with the help and advice of other brewers-they’ve taken great umbrage recently over the muddling of the craft beer market.


The Brewers Association (“A Passionate Voice for Craft Brewers”) has grown especially sick of Big Beer creeping in on its territory, and is accusing the big guys of intentionally trying to fool the public. The association consists of around 1,500 independent U.S. brewers, and it defines craft beer in specific terms. To qualify, a true craft beer must be brewed in quantities of no more than six million barrels annually, and no large international beverage company can own more than 25% of the operation. Many beers that seem like craft products don’t pass muster, according to a statement released by the Brewers Association in mid-December:


Many non-standard, non-light “crafty” beers found in the marketplace today are not labeled as products of large breweries. So when someone is drinking a Blue Moon Belgian Wheat Beer, they often believe that it’s from a craft brewer, since there is no clear indication that it’s made by SABMiller. The same goes for Shock Top, a brand that is 100 percent owned by Anheuser-Bush InBev, and several others that are owned by a multinational brewing and beverage company.


The indy brewers are accusing Big Beer of intentionally duping the public, and they’re calling for the practice to stop:


The large, multinational brewers appear to be deliberately attempting to blur the lines between their crafty, craft-like beers and true craft beers from today’s small and independent brewers. We call for transparency in brand ownership and for information to be clearly presented in a way that allows beer drinkers to make an informed choice about who brewed the beer they are drinking.


In an op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (hometown paper of Anheuser-Busch, at least until it was purchased by a Belgian company), Brewer Association executives named names of several high-profile sell-outs-brands that were once true craft beers, but that were bought out by mass-market players:


The large brewers also have bought or own 100 percent of smaller breweries like Goose Island, Leinenkugel and Henry Weinhard. They own significant equity stakes in Red Hook, Widmer and Kona breweries. They sell these beers through their strong distribution channels, but market these faux-craft beers as if they were from independent, locally owned craft breweries.


The big companies have even occasionally tried to boldly portray their products as small craft brews right in the little guys’ backyards. The Denver Post’s beer blog called attention to how a billboard pumped up Shock Top as proudly “made in Fort Collins.” This is true-Anheuser-Busch owns a brewery in Fort Collins, where it makes Shock Top, as well as Busch, Bud Light, Michelob, Natural Light, and other beers that most certainly aren’t craft beers. But the problem that the little brewers have with the billboard is that it portrays Shock Top as akin to New Belgium Brewing, which is based in Fort Collins and is known for brands like Fat Tire, which undeniably earns the craft beer label. The Shock Top logo is also a little too similar to New Belgium’s, in some observers’ minds.


Another Colorado brewer, Eric Wallace, of Left Hand Brewing, explained to the Denver Post why anyone should care about where their beer is made:


“The authenticity of craft brewing is one of the cool things about it,” Wallace said. “It’s one of the things attractive to people – the fact you can come down to the tasting room, and there are the guys who work here, it’s all made here, they can have a pint and rub shoulders and talk to them about what they’re doing. There is almost a sense of ownership in the community.”


Big beer views the situation differently. In an interview with Fortune, Graham Mackay, of SABMiller (which oversees Blue Moon, among other “crafty” beers), said that the determination of authenticity should be left to beer drinkers:


There’s a huge debate in the craft world about us, all big brewers, because we’re like the enemy. We’re the other guys. They think we’re stealing their authenticity. What we say is, “Let the consumer decide.” If we’re authentic enough for the consumer, that’s authentic enough for anyone.


Even among the protectors of the “craft beer” label, there’s been a willingness to redefine the term from time to time. In 2010, the Brewers Association upped its limit for qualifying as a craft brewer from two million to six million barrels, so that Yuengling and Samuel Adams would still get to call themselves authentic craft beers without shame.


Regardless, the biggest beer snobs out there don’t really consider Yuengling or Sam Adams to be craft beers. Countless other drinkers couldn’t care less about whether a beer truly deserves the “craft beer” label, so long as it tastes good. In a Bloomberg News story, Jim Koch, CEO of Boston Beer (maker of Sam Adams), offered what’s probably the simplest and best explanation for why people are have been buying more Blue Moon, Sam Adams, and Fat Tire alike:


“It’s simple: people are drinking less and drinking better,” said Koch. “There’s not much more to it than that.”


Read more:



Here’s why Yuengling beat Sam Adams in 2011, and how Sam might pull even


Source: Boston Business Journal

by Galen Moore, Web Editor

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


A report over the weekend made waves in beer-brewing, with purported news that D.G. Yuengling & Son had surpassed Sam Adams brewer Boston Beer Co. (NYSE: SAM) as the largest domestically owned beer brewer. The report was true, but it wasn’t news.


Fact is, Yuengling has been the largest domestically owned beer brewer since 2011 was in the books, and in 2012 it’s likely to widen the margin. The two beer brewing companies’ strategies could not be more different. While Sam Adams has expanded nationally and diversified into beer alternatives like hard tea and cider, Yuengling sells only beer – mostly draft beer at that – and only in 14 states.


A big part of Yuengling’s pop last year came from its expansion to Ohio. Yuengling continues to have room to grow as it keeps its geographic footprint restrained, Beer Marketer’s Insights executive editor, Eric Shepard, told me in a Christmas-Eve phone call.


SAM and Yuengling both sold about 2.5 million barrels of beer in 2011, leading the BBJ to report in February that the two brewers were tied for the title of biggest American beer brewer. (Boston Beer. Co. had held that title undisputed since 2008, when InBev bought Anheuser Busch.)


Not exactly, explained Shepard. Yuengling brewed 2.523 million barrels of beer in 2011. Boston Beer Co. brewed 2.471. That’s a significant margin, even if you forgot that Boston Beer had a 53-week accounting year in 2011.


Plus, a growing share of SAM’s business in 2011 came not from beer but from their “Twisted Tea” product. This year they announced the national launch of “Angry Orchard” hard cider.


Yuengling’s strategy paid off in 2011, but Boston Beer Company’s approach may be starting to close the gap again in 2012.


Earlier this month, SAM announced better-than-expected depletions growth forecast for 2012, based on a better-than-expected launch for “Angry Orchard.” SAM hasn’t forecast sales volume, but given the company’s “Freshest Beer” program, the sales will probably hew closely to the depletions figure.


If he’s right, Sam won’t catch Yuengling even if it hits the top of its increased depletions forecast this year – but it may pull closer to regaining its former title. Privately held Yuengling is projecting top-line growth around 16 percent in 2012, according to the Bloomberg News profile that started the rumor that Yuengling had surpassed Sam Adams.


Yuengling’s home-state city daily, the Philadelphia Inquirer, picked up the Bloomberg profile and pushed the dated sales volume numbers up into the headline, touching off echoes around the Web that Yuengling had finally surpassed the former Boston-based champion among domestically owned brews and craft brews. (The nonprofit Brewers Association took pains to remind the public earlier this month of its definition of a craft brewer.)


After my calls went unanswered at Yuengling and SAM, Shepard put that rumor to rest for me. Yuengling is the undisputed leader in domestically owned beer production, and likely to strengthen its hold on the title. “Everybody made a big deal out of it one year late,” he said.


Correction: In an earlier version of this article I misread the Brewers Association statement mentioned in the second paragraph. Their statement doesn’t single out SAM or Yuengling. The statement did spark comments from some brewers who don’t regard Yuengling as a craft beer. However, as far as I can see both Yuengling and SAM meet the Brewers Association’s craft brewing limit, which it expanded in 2011 to 6 million barrels.




Conf Bd: Dec US Consumer Confidence Drops to 65.1, Well Below Expectations


Source: Dow Jones


Dec 27th


U.S. consumers, becoming more aware of the impact of the fiscal cliff, turned more downbeat about the future, dragging down over confidence this month according to a report released Thursday.


The Conference Board, a private research group, said its index of consumer confidence dropped to 65.1 in December from a revised 71.5 in November, first reported as 73.7.


The latest index is the lowest since August and is well below the 70.0 expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.


The decline was all in expectations. Consumer expectations for economic activity over the next six months plunged to 66.5 from a revised 80.9 which was much lower than the original reading of 85.1.


The board’s present situation index, a gauge of consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions, actually rose to 62.8 from a revised 57.4, first put at 56.6.


“The sudden turnaround in expectations was most likely caused by uncertainty surrounding the oncoming fiscal cliff,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the board. “A similar decline in expectations was experienced in August of 2011 during the debt ceiling discussions.”


Last Friday, Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan reported its consumer sentiment index for all of December fell sharply. That report also pointed to worries about the fiscal cliff and higher taxes as the reasons for a big drop in consumers’ views about the future.


Expectations about higher taxes in 2013 probably contributed to lackluster holiday sales this year.


Within the Conference Board’s report, consumers reported seeing some deterioration in the labor markets.


The board’s survey showed 10.3% of respondents now think jobs are “plentiful,” down from 11.0% thinking that in November. A larger 35.6% think jobs are “hard to get,” but that is down from the 37.4% who said that last month.


Looking out six months, only 17.0% of consumers think there will be more jobs, down from 19.5% thinking that in November. And 27.3% think there will be fewer jobs, a big jump from 21.2% saying that last month.


Possibly reflecting anticipated tax hikes, 18.7% of consumers expect a decrease in the incomes in the next six month, up from 15.6% saying that in November.




Sebi seeks clarification on Diageo offer for United Spirits


Source: Economic Times

Dec 27th


Market regulator Sebi has sought additional details from global liquor giant Diageo with regard to its Rs 5,441 crore open offer for acquiring 26 per cent stake in UB Group firm United Spirits LtdBSE -1.72 %.


The open offer is part of a proposed acquisition of up to 53.4 per cent stake in United Spirits (USL) by Diageo Plc for an aggregate amount of Rs 11,166.5 crore.


As per the deal, announced on November 9, Diageo is acquiring a 27.4 per cent stake in USL, through a combination of purchase of shares from existing promoters and a preferential allotment of share, for Rs 5,725.4 crore.


Any acquisition of 25 per cent or more stake in a listed company triggers a mandatory open offer for purchase of additional 26 per cent stake from the public shareholders and the same needs to be cleared by the market regulator.


The proposed open offer for an additional 26 per cent stake in USL entails purchase of about 3.8 crore shares at a price of Rs 1,440 per share, totalling to Rs 5,441 crore, by Relay BV, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Diageo.


Sebi had received the draft letter of this open offer on November 29 for purchase of 26 per cent stake in USL, as per the information available with the regulator.


As per Sebi’s latest weekly update on processing status of takeover deals, the “reply is awaited from MB (Merchant Banker)” for United Spirits open offer. The clarifications were sought last week, while it could not be ascertained whether the same has been submitted to the regulator.


An acquirer can go ahead with the open offer only after Sebi issues its “observations” on the same. JM FinancialBSE 0.45 % is the merchant banker for the offer.


USL, the country’s largest spirits company, is part of Vijay Mallya-led UB Group, whose aviation venture Kingfisher AirlinesBSE -2.20 % has been going through turbulent times for many months now and its licence is currently suspended.




The story of gin: A spirited interview


Source: LA Times

By Jasmine Elist

December 26, 2012


As we roll into the final holiday parties of the year, spirits are high — and flowing. “The Book of Gin” by Richard Barnett traces the history of gin, which was once believed to prevent plague, ease the pains of childbirth and treat a lack of courage.


Barnett found in gin a story that combined pleasure, history, pain and politics. When not writing about gin, the award-winning author runs the Sick City Project, which explores how medicine intersects with public life. Barnett took some time to chat with us about the flavors, aromas and varieties of gin — as well as the spirit’s complex and rich history.


Out of the wide range of liquors to choose from, why gin?


I spend my days teaching and writing about the history of science and medicine, so I’m always looking for stories that cast light on human life and the ways in which we think about pain and pleasure, health and disease. The story of gin takes in alchemy and science, royal families and poor migrants, armies and navies, fashions and revolutions as they have moved around the globe. Gin has a history with ethical and philosophical overtones. It reveals how we’ve chosen to comfort ourselves when times were tough, and how we’ve aspired to elegance and modernity when times were better. (Oh, and it’s good to drink, too.)


What are the features that delight you most about gin?


Gin is nothing less than world history in a glass. Dutch genever, the first incarnation of gin, was created in an age of world-changing trade and exploration. It was distilled from Baltic grain, flavored with spices from the East Indies and sugar from the West Indies, and it was carried all around the world on the ships of the Dutch East India Company, the world’s first multinational corporation. Gin has had many global adventures, and its status has changed radically over five centuries, from a drink of the rich and well-traveled to the poison of the poor and back again. Most of all, I think, gin is an urban drink, and it has been said to possess all the virtues and vices of urban life. You can map the spread of modern cities by following the changing consumption of gin.


Was gin ever used for anything other than a drink?


Absolutely! The idea of distilling spirit and scenting or flavoring it with herbs and spices emerged in the Islamic Golden Age of the 8th and 9th centuries AD, and indeed our word “alcohol” comes from an Arabic word meaning “spirit.” At the House of Wisdom — a kind of research institution in Baghdad, the capital of the Islamic empire — alchemists and philosophers experimented with stills and alembics, trying to make perfumes and medicines. When they distilled wine, they discovered a mysterious substance, a “water” that burned and evaporated away to nothing. Some thought it was an elixir of life, others that it was a form of the universal force that permeated all things. For centuries distilled alcohol was used almost exclusively as a medicine, and the very first “proto-gin” — spirit infused with juniper — was made in an Italian monastery-hospital in the 11th century. It wasn’t until the late 16th century that Dutch distillers began to make a sweet, juniper-flavored liquor for drinking.


Why was gin one of the most popular bootleg liquors during Prohibition?


One of the great reasons for gin’s popularity, both in Prohibition-era America and in the British gin craze of the 18th century, is that its flavor could be faked fairly easily. Scotch whiskey, for instance, has a complex flavor, which depends upon high-quality ingredients and years of maturation in barrels. But gin in its most basic form is neutral spirit flavored with juniper, and bootleggers quickly found that they could make a passable gin with industrial alcohol and juniper oil or turpentine. Even bootleg gin, however, might have been preferable to its gin-craze predecessor. Eighteenth-century distillers were not above adding a splash of sulfuric acid to give a little extra fieriness.


You write that since the late 1980s there has been a gin renaissance. What caused this sudden rise in gin’s popularity?


By the mid-’80s liquor manufacturing was in a dire state, with gin sales falling fast and many of the traditional techniques and recipes abandoned in favor of mass-industrial production and a bland, homogeneous product. The turning-point came in 1988 with the launch of Bombay Sapphire — the first new premium gin for decades, and one with a marketing campaign built around heritage, quality and character. Around the same time, the Swing Revival and Cocktail Nation trends — remember “Swingers”? — helped to give younger drinkers a new taste for gin. More recently, the success of “Mad Men” and the cult of James Bond certainly hasn’t harmed the mystique of the martini. In the last decade craft distilling has become hip, with dozens of small companies across Europe and the U.S. producing their own distinctive and delicious gins. Many of the bigger corporate brands have returned to an older, artisanal style of distilling. So, thanks to the gin renaissance, this is the best time in the last 500 years to be drinking gin.


What are some gin cocktails you would recommend our readers making?


For the holiday season there’s nothing better than an old-fashioned hot gin punch — Charles Dickens’ favorite Christmas drink, and one he puts in the hands of his characters in stories like “A Christmas Carol”. Traditionally this could be made by plunging a hot poker into a mixture of gin, Madeira, lemon juice, honey, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon, but a saucepan and a stove will do just as well. For something more refreshing but equally festive, try a gin fizz (gin, lemon juice, sugar, egg white and soda water) made with damson or sloe gin.


Is there any way to drink gin and avoid a hangover?


Moderation is the only sure method, I’m afraid. As someone once wrote in Punch magazine, life is mostly a question of the liver.


How do you prefer your gin? What is your favorite gin-based cocktail?


Oddly enough I wasn’t a big gin-drinker before I began this book, but I’ve acquired something of a taste for that great American contribution to world culture — the martini. As an aperitif I like it very cold and very dry, with a zesty gin like Tanqueray Rangpur or Greenall’s Berkeley Square. For more summery occasions, a long Negroni with Hendrick’s or Martin Miller is just the thing. As a British writer I should also fly the flag for a classic gin and tonic with Plymouth, a gin that is very nearly as old as the United States.


Do you have plans to write “The Book of” any other types of alcohol?


The time I’ve spent learning and writing about gin has been an absolute joy, but for my next books I’ll be moving on to different kinds of spirit — the history of the unconscious mind before Freud, and the ways in which digital culture is transforming the concept of the sublime. But I’ll always have a soft spot for the scent of juniper, and if you want to know more about gin and its remarkable global history, point your smartphone or tablet toward my Sick City Walks web app and my Sick City Project, an ongoing exploration of life and death in London’s history.




Group to ramp up support for energy drinks


Source: FT

By Alan Rappeport in Washington

Dec 26th


Beverage industry lobbyists are preparing to increase support for energy drinks, the highly caffeinated sodas that have been criticised in recent months amid allegations that they are linked to deaths.


Susan Neely, chief executive of the American Beverage Association, said at a recent industry conference sponsored by Beverage Digest that criticism of energy drinks was a sign of the fast-growing category’s new prominence and a “hyper-vigilance” in the US about health.


The ABA is looking to “ratchet up” its support of energy drinks next year, Ms Neely said, after years of focusing most of its efforts on fending off soda taxes across the US. “We are very aggressive,” Ms Neely said. “You have to kill legislation that is being introduced at the state and local level.”


Energy drinks such as Monster and 5-Hour Energy have been implicated in several deaths that were reported to the US Food and Drug Administration in recent years. The health regulator revealed the reports last month.


Shares of Monster Beverage have been hit amid fears over the reaction from consumers and worries that the industry will face stricter regulations .


Monster has defended the safety of its products, dismissing accusations that its energy drinks put consumers at risk.


According to a new report from Consumer Edge Research, 20 per cent of 1,500 consumers surveyed in recent weeks have stopped drinking Monster and 7 per cent of those consumers said they have turned to other beverages because of the recent reports.


Monster’s drinks contain up to 10 times the amount of caffeine used in regular sodas made by companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. However, beverage lobbyists argue that the caffeine content is similar to that of coffee brewed in shops.


“Are you going to start banning people from going to Starbucks or banning people from going to the coffee house next door, because there is more caffeine in those products?” Ms Neely said.


In response to inquiries from lawmakers, the FDA has promised to investigate links between caffeine and other stimulants that are included in energy drinks. So far no safety risks have been found, the FDA said in November.


Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner on foods, told the Financial Times that the regulator was “taking a very hard look” at the effects of mixing caffeine with other stimulants and that it was taking reports linking the products to deaths seriously.


“We need to get to the bottom of the public health issue behind those reports,” Mr Taylor said.


Energy drinks face looser regulations than traditional beverages because they classify themselves as supplements. Mr Taylor acknowledged that the distinction between beverages and liquid supplements is blurry and said the FDA would provide clear guidance on this in the next few months.




Microbes change the taste of wine


Source: TG Daily

by Flora Malein

December 27, 2012


Wine-lovers take note, scientists have found that it’s not only the vintage and type of grape that can affect the taste of your favourite tipple; the type of microbes present may play a role as well.

While any sommelier could tell you that a wine’s flavour will depend on its particular vintage or chateau, it now appears that the type of yeast variety present on the grapes can have a significant impact on the taste as well. Vineyards are home to a vast array of microbes in the soil and on the vines; it now appears that the different species of yeast present when the grapes enter the fermentation process could lead to differences in flavour, even among vines in the same vineyard.


Scientists from the Stellenbosch University analysed the microbial communities present at three directly adjacent Cabernet sauvignon grape vineyards in the Polkadraai region in Stellenbosch, South Africa.


Each vineyard used a different cultivation technique: organic, traditional or biodynamic which they found to have a significant impact on the number and variety of fungal species present. Even more surprising is that different combinations of fungal species, that could alter the taste of wine in different ways, were found within the same vineyard. This means that even bottles of wine from the same vineyard, produced at the same time, could taste different.


“In the wine industry, the fungal communities on grapes are especially important. The microbial species present on the berry may contribute to the fermentation process, and therefore the aromatic properties of the resulting wine,” the authors explain.


They extracted the DNA from the surface of grapes in order to analyse the type of species and numbers present at the vineyards. They found that the biodynamic vineyard had more unique species of fungus than the more conventionally cultivated farms, leading to possibly greater variations in flavour. They also found that within a single vineyard, small differences between vines, such as its temperature or sun exposure, could significantly change the composition of the fungal community on grape surfaces, once again altering the wine’s flavour.


Mathabatha Setati, lead author of the study published in PLOS ONE, believes that their findings could be used to help vintners plan a more sophisticated approach to their wine production.


“Our findings could help viticulturalists and winemakers plan microharvests better, and implement better wine blending strategies to ensure consistency,” he says.




Wine glut, high dollar squeeze profits


Source: Adelaide Now

Cameron England

December 28, 2012


THE seemingly perennial wine glut, poor profitability and the stubbornly high Australian dollar continue to put pressure on the wine industry as it enters 2013.


At this stage of the vintage it is not possible to say how well this year’s wine harvest will go.


The 2012 vintage from last summer’s growing season was a cracker which, in the Barossa, for example, was described as the best in decades.


Australia continues to produce too much wine, however, and profitability remains a major issue.


Primary Industries and Resources SA’s Grape and Wine Scorecard Report 2011-12 shows the value of our wine exports declined for the fourth year last financial year, falling by $62 million, down 5 per cent, to $1.14 billion.


“Current overseas wine exports from SA are at their lowest levels since 2000-01,” it says. “The continuing decline in export value was due mainly to the lowest average wine price of $2.78 per litre since Score Card records commenced in 1996-97.”


Despite the fall in exports, the PIRSA report showed the total wholesale value of wine made in SA increased 5 per cent to $1.45 billion. By volume, wine grape production was up 2 per cent to 698,000 tonnes, while overseas exports fell 3 per cent to 411 million litres.


Gross wine revenue which takes in overseas exports, net interstate trade and domestic retail and hospitality consumption inched up by $26 million or 1 per cent to reach $1.75 billion.


One of the telling figures is that prices are lower than they have been for much of the past decade.


“(The) 2011-12 price, although improved on the previous year, is still only around 60 per cent of prices being received 10 years ago,” the report said.


A bright note was that exports to Asia, which has been promoted as a valuable new market, have indeed been surging.


“Wine exports to China (including Hong Kong) increased rapidly over the year, to become SA’s third biggest export market … over 15 per cent of the total export value,” the report said. “In 2011-12 the value of wine exports to China and Hong Kong increased by another 20 per cent to over $165 million.”


Winemakers’ Federation of Australia chief executive Paul Evans said his organisation had two key priorities in 2013.


“We want to understand and support the industry recovering to global benchmark profitability,” he said. “The big challenge for the industry is profitability. Particularly for our members it’s about understanding supply and demand and where the mismatches are occurring.”


The federation is doing a wide-ranging review into profitability in the industry, which Mr Evans said had not been done post-GFC, and would look at projected demand in key markets, especially Asia.


“That’s going to be a big and important piece of work for the federation in the first couple of quarters of next year,” he said.


The oversupply was largely in C-grade grapes, which went into wines in the $9-$15 bottle price bracket.


“I know there’s a lot of talk at the moment about a potential recovery. We have to be very careful about whether it’s just a seasonal or cyclical recovery, where a few things have gone our way, or whether structurally we’ve really addressed some of the issues which our production base continues to present to us.”


Mr Evans said the past three vintages had been lower than normal, which might be skewing perceptions.


“If a normal vintage comes in, it will only amplify the oversupply issues.”


Mr Evans said the Federation was also concerned about regulatory creep, with public health advocates pushing for minimum floor prices for alcohol and changes to the way wine is taxed.


Gaetjens Langley wine industry brokers director Toby Langley said the firm expected more merger and acquisition action in 2013.


“Many larger brands are now dealing with supermarkets directly. We believe this trend will continue and probably evolve into a revised model for wholesaling.”


Mr Langley said early signs of recovery generally were bringing more buyers into the market, particularly from China.




The biggest wine stories in 2012


Source: Napa Valley Register

Paul Franson

Dec 27th


1. A picture-perfect year.


In Napa Valley, 2012 was a perfect year for growing wine grapes: Mild temperatures with no heat spikes, no rain during critical times including at harvest time, few bugs, fungus or other pests. With high quality and quantity, it’s a perfect year for growers and wineries and should lead to excellent wines and good prices for consumers.


2. The shortage that didn’t occur.


Observers predicted a shortage of grapes this year due to lack of planting in recent years, but growers left a few extra buds on the vines and dropped fewer clusters than usual, leading to a bounteous harvest. There’s no indication that the slightly greater yields harmed quality, either, though only time will tell.


3. Buying wine gets easier, albeit slowly.


It’s slowly getting easier to buy wine by mail as states reduce restrictions, and more and more states are killing blue laws and other rules that date to Prohibition. Direct sales to consumers from wineries reached $1.4 billion according to Wines & Vines, a leading trade magazine. This is especially important to Napa’s boutique wineries, that have trouble getting adequate distribution through traditional wholesalers – and make far more money from selling direct.


4. Bill Foley becomes big news in Napa Valley


After gobbling up wineries throughout California including Sebastiani, Firestone and Chalk Hill Wineries, mortgage executive Bill Foley edged closer to adding to his Napa portfolio of Merus, Altus and Kuleto by buying Lancaster in Sonoma’s Chalk Hill appellation and a majority share of vast Langtry/Guenoc in Lake County. Most significantly, he bought Sawyers Cellars in a high-visibility spot in Rutherford and quickly changed the name to Foley Johnson (Johnson being his wife’s maiden name) and has hinted at trying to significantly expand that brand’s size. Unlike another prominent newcomer, Jean Charles Boisset, Foley keeps a low profile.


5. Big wineries continue to gobble up small ones.


Foley isn’t a giant, but the true giants of the industry have been buying up wineries and wine brands up and down the west coast, as they already have here. In some cases, they were troubled companies. Gallo bought Washington state’s Columbia and Covey Run Wineries, its first move into that fast-rising wine producing state, as well as a large custom winery in San Luis Obispo County. Constellation Brands bought Pinot Noir-leader Mark West after recently buying Blackstone with its Merlot. Though none of these deals have involved Napa companies, they are likely to have an indirect impact.


6. Wineries buy vineyards and wineries to ensure supply


Looking at future shortages, many big and small wineries are buying vineyards, or even buying whole wineries for their vineyards. Gallo bought a 400-acre vineyard in Monterey County and the 2,000-acre Snow’s Lake Vineyard in rising star Lake County, while Bill Foley bought the vineyards of nearby Langtry estates that sits on 23,000 acres of land. The trend continues on a smaller – but still expensive – scale here, with Long Meadow Ranch buying property to create a 74-acre parcel in Rutherford. Also, Paul Hobbs Winery bought the 90-acre Tourmaline Vineyard in Coombsville east of Napa, the Sonoma’s first Napa Valley acquisition. Expect more deals to surface.


7. Moscato overtakes sauvignon blanc


Slightly sweet, intensely fruity muscat wines, generally called Moscato after the Italian name, have grown at an incredible pace, passing sauvignon blanc as the third most popular white wine (after chardonnay, by far the biggest, and pinot grigio, which itself leapfrogged sauvignon blanc a few years ago).


8. Red blend sales explode


Nontraditional blends of red grapes – typically zinfandel and less-popular merlot and syrah, even grenache, carignane and others – have become tremendously popular. Most are slightly sweet, anathema to wine snobs but delicious to fans. The local Trinchero family is a leader with Menage a Trois, as it is with moscatos.


9. Wineries proliferate


Although a few small wineries have been built in Napa Valley, it’s challenging to build a facility in most parts of the county, forcing more production to the corporate areas south of Napa. DFV is building out a large facility, and Don Sebastiani and Sons has renovated its large property there, joining other large produders. The facilities don’t necessarily crush grapes, but perform most other winemaking operations. Also, Eagle & Rose Winery in Pope Valley is now Whiskey River custom winery.


10. One stupid wine law falls; others await the axe


California finally joined the other 49 states in allowing sweepstakes and promotions to promote wine sales, so state residents can have a chance at the big Build a Better Burger prize offered by Sutter Home. Now it’s time to change the antique tier house laws that restrict shared ownership of wineries and restaurant.


Leave it to the market to help restaurateurs who have ownership in wineries decide how many and much of their wine they can include in the restaurants.


It’s not like there’s no competition for either eateries or wineries that would allow them to monopolize the business.




New Zealand: Wine festivals sobering up


Source: NZ Herald

By Amelia Wade

Dec 28, 2012


Popular summer events are trying to discourage drunk and disruptive revellers.


New Zealand wine and food festivals are taking a stand against drunk and disruptive revellers.


The Marlborough Food and Wine Festival says it’s changing its February event so it’s as much about food and music as about wine.


“We’ve noticed similar festivals are appealing to a younger and rowdier crowd and we’ve decided not to go down that path,” said festival committee chairman Tim Crawford.


“We’ve made adjustments so the festival caters to a slightly more mature group.”


Tickets have been capped at 8000 for the past few years. Mr Crawford said this had proven to be the “magical number” for maximum atmosphere without being overcrowded.


About 12 years ago, the festival had numbers of about 15,000.


“We’re looking at a better balance of food and wine, rather than people just getting stuck into the wine,” Mr Crawford said. “It’s not age, but attitude that we’re looking at.”


MasterChef winners Brett McGregor, Nadia Lim and Chelsea Winter have all signed on.


Mr Crawford said the well-known culinary faces would help make sure people lined their stomachs.


“I think the difficulty with some of the festivals is that some of the younger people aren’t used to drinking wine.


“They often turn up there and it’s a really hot day and people start drinking wine like they might drink beer and they don’t have any food in them so it catches up pretty quickly.”


Villa Maria, which hosts a variety of events over summer, is also “ramping up” efforts to ensure nobody gets out of control.


Last February, the company was forced to close the bar early at the Class of ’81 event at the Villa Maria winery because some of the 4500-strong crowd got very drunk.


One punter described it then as chaos. “There wasn’t real trouble … [but] the place was filled with people in their 40s and 50s staggering around and trying to relive their youth. It wasn’t pretty.”


Villa Maria director Fabian Yukich said some people took exception to the bar being closed early and this year the winery was making sure nothing similar happened.


Mr Yukich said staff would be making sure there was plenty of food stands, circulating and looking for those who were too inebriated, advertising when the bars closed and ensuring people didn’t bring alcohol on site.


“We were doing that before, but we’re just ramping it up.”


And organisers of the Classic Hits Winery Tour are also making sure no one gets too drunk and starts causing trouble at their events.


Co-promoter Campbell Smith said they always took “great precaution” that their annual summer series events had well-manned security and their liquor licence was fully complied with.


“We’re about to have our hundredth show and we’ve never had an issue at any one of them … our events are very family orientated.”




A Sparkling Vinitaly USA 2013 Ahead


Source: PRWeb

Dec 27th


Part of the Year of Italian Culture in the USA promoted by the Italian Foreign Service, Vinitaly (in New York and Miami on January 28th and 30th respectively), will feature a rich program to bring the latest Italian fine wine trends to the USA. Once again wine professionals will be able to engage in myriad Master Classes and educational sessions, including a business seminar hosted by the Wine Market Council. Wine bars with interactive iPad tastings will highlight the walk-around tasting, which this year will be home to a vast number of exhibitors showing the latest fine wines from Italy. Visitors will also appreciate this year’s collaboration with Slow Wine, a revolutionary wine guide that adopts a new approach to wine criticism to evaluate wineries in their entirety, taking into consideration quality, typicity and adherence to terroir, value for money, environmental sensitivity and ecologically sustainable viticultural practices. A walk-around tasting of Italian wineries from the 2013 Slow Wine guide will take place alongside each Vinitaly tasting, thereby creating the two most comprehensive days of Italian wine tasting in the US.


The New York program will feature a special presentation by John Gillespie, President of the Wine Market Council, to shed light on trends in consumption of imported wines in 2012.


The program also includes guided master class tastings hosted by GIV, (Gruppo Italiano Vini) which will showcase a vertical tasting from acclaimed producer Nino Negri, and Consorzio Tutela Vini Soave, which will present an array of great white wines in line with the concept of Vulcania, the international forum on white wines from volcanic soils. Vulcania tackles themes pertaining to geology and education with the participation of eminent lecturers, journalists and communicators aimed at promoting these special wines.


US importer Palm Bay will share a special selection of fine Italian wines with invited members of the trade.


Each of the master classes will be enhanced by the Vinitaly Interactive iPad application to record the tasting preferences of each taster using a QR coded bracelet, which in return provides him or her with a personalized tasting book.


One wine category that will have special standing at Vinitaly USA is Prosecco DOC. Since the DOC status was granted to Prosecco in 2009, with the Consorzio di Tutela del Prosecco DOC being set up shortly thereafter, this sparkling category has experienced significant growth and actually overtaken traditional leaders such as Champagne in the USA. The success story translates into more than 1 million cases imported into the USA today, equal to an annual growth of about 35%. Prosecco DOC production has grown from five million bottles in 1970 to almost 200 million bottles produced in 2012, representing a 3900% increase over this period. The wine produced from the Glera grape equates to 196 million total bottles per year, 68 million bottles of which is Prosecco DOCG. The Consorzio di Tutela del Prosecco DOC brings together groups of producers – individual or associated vine-growers, still and sparkling wine producers – from the provinces of Treviso, Venice, Vicenza, Padua, Belluno, Gorizia, Pordenone, Trieste and Udine. The Consorzio Prosecco DOC ensured sustained promotion in the USA throughout 2012 with the aid of various Vinitaly International initiatives, including events in Chicago and New York in April and May and American Cancer Society (ACS) fundraiser events such as Taste of Hope in May and Hope Lodge in December; the consortium will again be an integral part of Vinitaly USA 2013 with a special master class open to the public during the evening event for consumers on January 28th in New York.




Damaged by Sandy, WineCare Storage refuses access to man’s $300,000 wine collection


Philip ‘Tod’ Waterman III is suing the storage facility, noting in an email to them, ‘Telling me you have ‘absolutely no idea’ when I will have access to my inventory is beyond troubling.’



By Jennifer H. Cunningham AND Barbara Ross

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Philip “Tod” Waterman III started storing wines at WineCare in 2006 and has since spent $44,000 on storage fees.


Now he has something to whine about.


A Manhattan real estate investor is suing a W. 28th St. wine storage facility, claiming the company has refused to give him access to his $300,000 wine collection after the warehouse’s temperature-controlled cellars were flooded during Superstorm Sandy.


WineCare Storage emails to Philip “Tod” Waterman III disclosed that the bottles had to be moved after the flooding, but estimated “at least 95% of the wine we are storing is fine.”


But after assuring him the cases would be moved to upper floors, the company said last month “the process of moving 10s of 1000s of cases out of our cellars continues at a methodical and careful pace.”


The company added it couldn’t return the wines to the cellars until they were deemed to be “certified safe.”


“Fine wine, such as that in Mr. Waterman’s collection, is fragile and can easily be damaged if not kept in climate-controlled environment,” state court papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.


Waterman claims he had 198 cases of wine stored in the cellars, much of it rare and irreplaceable.


He says he started storing wines there in 2006 after meeting company president Derek Limbocker at a private men’s club in Manhattan, and has since spent $44,000 on storage fees.


Waterman is asking the court to order WineCare to give an immediate account of where his wine is located, how much of it was damaged and how the company has maintained it since Sandy.


Waterman, who earlier complained he would need access to the wine for his holiday parties, fumed in a Dec. 17 email: “Telling me you have ‘absolutely no idea’ when I will have access to my inventory is beyond troubling.”


On Dec. 26, the company sent another email saying the firm was “still recovering” because the wine’s “removal is a slow and difficult process” and “until we start scanning wines to our shelves it is impossible to find wine much less give accurate dates for its release.”


Reached at WineCare’s management office, director of operations Adam Strauss refused to discuss what happened to the wine. “I don’t think I”m allowed to comment,” he said.


Neither Waterman nor his attorney returned calls yesterday to discuss their litigation.




The Best Worst Brews


A taste test of cheap beers. (No, Bud Light isn’t cheap enough to be a “cheap beer.”)


Source: Slate

By Troy Patterson

Dec. 27, 2012


By popular demand, our topic today is beer, cheap beer, beer cheaper than a relatively solvent individual generally sucks back. “Try all of the cheapest beers,” a thirsty mind demanded. “Compare and rank them.” Some of you may be wondering, in the solicitous tone a gracious host takes toward a problematic guest, whether the subject under discussion might be better off beneath discussion. Such concerns are not to be pooh-poohed; most conversations about cheap beer employ the word rank strictly as an adjective. And yet the theme of cheap beer abounds with richness and flavor, thus presenting a vivid contrast to the fact of it.


Let’s begin by polishing the lenses of our cheap-beer goggles: In the mind of the bourgeois reader living among the connoisseurs of America’s growing number of craft beers, the phrase cheap beer may well cover a broad swath of domestic macrobrews-any of the mass-produced adjunct lagers and light lagers snobbed at as BMC dreck. While it is entirely accurate, in terms of culinary aesthetics, to identify all such beers as cheap beers, as a matter of cultural analysis, it is fatally imprecise. I’ve recently been arguing this point with some of the finest talents in the beverage industry, by which I mean the girls behind the tap at my neighborhood bar. Asked to name her cheap beer of choice, one tattooed barmaid told me, “Bud Light with a little grapefruit juice in it.” I started to protest that Bud Light wasn’t cheap enough for my purposes. “That’s as cheap as I go,” she said. “I’m a high-class lady.” I tipped her an extra buck for delivering a quote that sets up my thesis statement so perfectly: To survey the world of cheap beer is to examine a complicated terrain of class markers, class solidarity, and classiness indices.


Bud Light is the best-selling beer in America, followed by Budweiser, Coors Light, and Miller Lite, and each of these is considered, on account of its pricing, a premium beer. When the big brewers of St. Louis and Milwaukee expanded nationally after Prohibition, they charged premium prices for the flagship brands they advertised as primo product. In 1950, Budweiser was a luxury good consumed by a small elite, and popular-priced beers “commanded a market share of about 80 percent,” according to The U.S. Brewing Industry: Data and Economic Analysis, by Victor J. Tremblay and Carol Horton Tremblay. Today, popular-priced beer is not terribly popular, and the term of art for the category is subpremium. This is the beer we are talking about when we talk about cheap beer-the beer down on the bottom shelf of the convenience-store cooler and the basement floor of the frat-house taproom. Today, subpremium beer commands a market share of about 10 percent.


Question: What happened? Short answer: Whassup? What happened were a few million TV commercials and the Veblen effects they engendered. People who study the structural economics of beer agree that buyers who prefer premium BMC dreck to the subpremium kind are consuming the conspicuity of a label. (Trader Joe’s nods toward this dynamic with the name tag on its totally-not-that-bad bargain beer, Name Tag Lager.) Scholars like to point-and to laugh while pointing-to a blind taste test conducted by Consumer Reports in 1996. There, a panel of beer experts determined that two subpremiums, Old Milwaukee and Stroh’s, were superior to all the premiums and superpremiums (such as Michelob) that they tasted. Conclusion: “Paying more does not necessarily get you more when it comes to beer.”


But what, exactly, are you getting when you pay less? Sometimes, it is the local pride of a traditional favorite-Olympia in the state of Washington, Lone Star in the republic of Texas, resurgent Narragansett in New England. Sometimes, it is a can of relatively palatable foreign swill marked down for complex cultural reasons; I eagerly await an economic explanation of why Mexico’s crisp Tecate is 20 cents cheaper than Bud at one New York deli and 20 cents more expensive just a few blocks away. And sometimes you are getting an economy-priced headache. Let’s knock back a mixed six-pack of notable brands.


Natural Light is the best-selling beer in the subpremium segment, the fifth-best-seller overall, and-at this writing, in the view of second-worst beer in the world. (It trails Olde English 800, a malt liquor favored in the 1980s by Eazy-E and more recently by college students. It is not in the purview of this exercise to discuss malt liquor, a topic I intend to avoid until there exists a magazine titled Ugly Buzz Quarterly willing to pay $5 per word for my wisdom on that foolishness.) Natural Light is among the cheap beers sold by the 30-pack, which, based on my own experience as an undergraduate, constitutes a single serving. I refuse to encourage young people to drink in such an irresponsible manner as I did because that would be morally wrong and totally superfluous; copious anecdotal evidence suggests they need no such encouragement. But for the sake of this story, I tried to enjoy a Natural Light responsibly and derived no enjoyment from sitting down and sipping one at a leisurely pace. My first mistake was the sitting. Beers of this type are not supposed to be drunk while sitting, unless perhaps the seat in question is mounted on a riding mower. Rather, you douse your central nervous system with them while standing, ideally over a rousing match of beer pong or robopound. Idling over a light beer, with its low alcohol content (4 percent or so) and its high amount of brewing adjuncts (cloying corn, rancid rice), you catch only a gnat of a buzz-or else advance straight from clear-headedness to a faint fogginess resembling a piddling hangover. If you’re having only one beer, Natty Light is one to avoid.


Milwaukee’s Best is The Beast according to one term of anti-endearment and Milwaukee’s Worst according to another. Here we see the folly of attempting to rate beers of its caliber in any conventional sense. Hyperbole abounds and paradox reigns. In truth, it is not Milwaukee’s superlative anything-not its worst beer, not even its best emetic. It is true that, if you taste one carefully, then you will discover a pleasurable faintly graininess behind the rude musk of its aroma. But this is not the whole truth, and the experience of a Beer Advocate user named bambam2517 presents a more accurate portrait:


Took about 9 of these before i could swig down a swallow without making a clicking sound with my cheeks. Once i got past that though, it was all i thought it could be. Got me cross-eyed, piss in my roomies sock drawer drunk. Left me with a skull splitting hangover the next morning. Everything I remember from it in college is still true.




Busch was introduced by Anheuser-Busch in 1955 to undercut Budweiser’s low-end competitors, making it the first cheap beer designed as such. The facts of its commercial life highlight the perversity of the category. According to the Tremblays, in the early ’70s, it cost A-B half a cent more to produce a 12-ounce can of Budweiser than a 12-ounce can of Busch-“yet the price of the container of Budweiser was 15 cents higher.” On the one hand, Busch’s skunky corn quality is oppressive. The most refreshing things about the beer remains its label (a profile of snowy mountain peaks, clearly a suggestion about the proper serving temperature) and its name (onomatopoeic of thirst-quenching fizz).


Miller High Life is of course “the Champagne of Beers”-a slogan that these days seems to nod strictly to its high carbonation, which yields a tummy full of foam, crowding the drinker’s stomach without delivering the satisfying bloat of heftier brews. It offers a case study in the strange vagaries of consumption. High Life was once high class, but when sales slipped in the late-’80s, Miller responded by discounting its price, which downgraded its image. The brand drifted down the ladder and became associated, in stereotypes, with various undesirable demographic groups, most recently fashionable young white people: Every hip person knows that High Life is the cool kids’ cheap beer of the moment, replacing .


Pabst Blue Ribbon. While sales of nine of the other top 10 subpremiums are down this year, Pabst Blue Ribbon is thriving; we must suppose that “hipsters” abandoned the brand because it went mainstream. The accepted marketing explanation for PBR’s 21st-century ascendance involves the delicate corporate exploitation of an organic phenomenon native to Portlandia, and the cultural critique of it detects an ironic tribal embrace of a working-class totem. I’d like to complicate the matter by simplifying things and posit that those who prefer clean, dry PBR to bland Bud or fetid Coors Light are acting as rational consumers and that PBR-deniers are the true poseurs. On that note, I direct you to the famous moment in Blue Velvet when Frank Booth, the sadistic drug-huffing gangster played by Dennis Hopper, puts in a good word for the honest charms of PBR and two bad ones for the affected embrace of Heineken. Once upon a time, I supposed that Frank’s vehement advocacy of PBR was further evidence of his degeneracy. Now I regard it as his only redeeming quality.


Porkslap Pale Ale, from an upstate New York brewery called Butternuts, is something of an odd man out on this list, being not a dull lager but a bright pale ale and not so much a cheap beer as a beer that is cheap. I include it to throw a bone to the bourgeois palate. It’s an inexpensive craft beer well-suited to such occasions as backyard barbecues and walking from the deli to a backyard barbecue. I refuse to encourage illegality, but it must be said that the package design of this product is a great bolster to the confidence of anyone inclined to drink in public: On the side of a can of Porkslap, two cartoon pigs leap with joy, jiggling rolls of Lucian Freud flesh, and making the beer look like some arcane soda pop. Further, the packaging makes it easy to explain to a toddler which can to go fetch Daddy from the cooler, please.




Ohio: Trace-back program targets alcohol sources


State agents, OSP to probe injury, fatal accidents linked to alcohol, drugs


Source: Daily Standard

Dec 26th


Nearly 100 state agents will team up with the Ohio State Highway Patrol beginning in January to investigate all serious injury or fatal accidents linked to alcohol or drugs.


The trace-back program will utilize the Ohio Investigative Unit (liquor control agents) to help officers across the state nab those who continue to serve alcohol to impaired patrons, provide alcohol to minors and host underage alcohol parties.


“If a bar owner refuses to cooperate in an investigation, they can be cited on administrative charges and taken before the Ohio Liquor Board,” Joe Andrews, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Public Safety, said.

The Daily Standard attempted to contact several area bar owners for comments, but all refused to discuss the issue publicly.


Andrews said agents also intend to investigate every crash where a driver’s blood-alcohol level is above 0.08 (legal limit), every DUI arrest where a driver’s BAC is above 0.15 and every traffic stop where a person younger than 21 is suspected of having been drinking.


Nearly 400 people are killed each year in Ohio in alcohol-related crashes. Of the 10 fatal accidents investigated in Mercer County this year, two involved alcohol. Four of the six fatal crashes in Auglaize County this year were alcohol-related.


Drugs played a bigger part than alcohol in Mercer County’s deadliest traffic accidents in 2012. Two involved heroin, one driver was impaired by cocaine and another was operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana and alcohol.


Lt. Scott Carrico, commander of the Wapakoneta post of the OSHP, said he welcomes the state agents’ help.


“It will keep troopers investigating crashes so they can get back out and do traffic control,” he said.


A recent incident in Ada highlighted the seriousness of the issue, state officials said. A bartender and bar owner at a popular hang-out in the college town served at least 25 shots of liquor – more than a full bottle – in less than an hour to a student celebrating his 21st birthday. The young man become violently ill and was hospitalized.


The bartender and bar owner were charged by police with over-serving the college student. One was sentenced to five days in jail with four days suspended, ordered to pay a $200 fine and perform 16 hours of community service. The other man’s case is pending. The state is pursuing charges against the bar.


Along with the new trace-back program, liquor control agents will maintain their jurisdictions of monitoring all businesses that sell alcohol, Andrews said.


Thomas P. Charles, director of the department of public safety, said restructuring at the state level put the program in place.


Local police and deputies will benefit financially as well.


“Trace-back investigations will be made available without cost to any Ohio law enforcement agency,” Charles said. “We owe it to the families who have lost a loved one, whose lives never are the same because of a senseless act, to find out all the facts that led to the tragedy.”




North Carolina: Holiday party hosts responsible for intoxicated guests


Source: News 14

By: Chad Mira

Dec 26th


Whether people are going out or staying in to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve, police want everyone in the community to be safe.


Even though authorities say it is safer to stay in, hosting a party comes with a lot of responsibility. The party host can be held liable for over-serving alcohol; just like a bar.


“It’s extremely busy. Party goers, all other types of things, but generally it’s just busy. Every now and then we do have a major incident. Unfortunately what we see this time of year is a spike generally of handling intoxicated persons,” said Sgt. William Redfearn of the Greensboro Police Department.


On a night when a lot of people drink, hosting a house party comes with a fair share of responsibility.


“The law puts responsibility on the person serving alcohol, much like a bar serving alcohol and the standard is whether the host knew or should’ve known that somebody had too much to drink,” said attorney David Daggett.


So even if the host is not driving, he still needs to make sure his guests do not get behind the wheel of a car as well if they have had too much to drink.


“If they’re not responsible and continue to allow someone who’s going to drive to drink, they could be held responsible criminally and they could also be responsible civally,” said Daggett.


That means if a guest ends up in an accident, the host is liable for money damages too. While Sgt. Redfearn said it is safer to stay in, there are still some precautions to take.


“[The host should] have an alternate drink other than alcohol beverage, and activities that don’t involve drinking,” said Redfearn.


Daggett said if someone wants to host a party, it is smarter to get together at a bar or restaurant so they are not the one serving the alcohol. However everyone should still do their best to make sure no one drinks and drives.




North Dakota: Legislature will take on DUI penalties


Source: Bismarck Tribune

Tribune editorial

December 26, 2012


When the North Dakota Legislature convenes, it will have two serious proposals to reform penalties in the state’s DUI law — one from each party, Republicans and Democrats, and both more severe than existing law when it comes to consequences for drunken driving.


We believe this is an important discussion for lawmakers, and we hope that the result will be an improved law with stiffer penalties.


Making the drunken driving penalties tougher will not be easy. There will be those who feel doing so will not address the problem, or that there really isn’t a problem, or that it’s too restrictive.


It’s important that legislators fully understand the problems alcohol-related traffic issues cause upon the state. And it’s important that those lawmakers do what’s in the best interests of a majority of North Dakotans.


The Tribune published a series,titled “Alcohol in Our Culture” Dec. 10-12. It noted that through Dec. 7, the state had 154 traffic fatalities and 53 percent were alcohol-related. The North Dakota HIghway Patrol reported 6,600 drunken driving arrests in 2011. Those numbers become even more poignant when seen through the eyes of the families of victims of fatal alcohol-related crashes.


The numbers are more than disturbing.


North Dakota’s existing DUI penalties call for a $250 fine and no mandatory sentence on the first offense. There’s a mandatory five days in jail on the second offense, 10 days on the third offense and 10 days on subsequent offenses.


Last week, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Rep. Kim Koppelman, R-West Fargo, proposed legislation that would make the penalty for a first DUI conviction at least four days in jail, a $750 fine. The proposal also would expand use of the 24/7 Sobriety Program. Additional offenses would carry a mandatory 10 days for a second offense, 60 days for a third and one year for a fourth or subsequent conviction.


Former North Dakota Highway Patrolman Rep. Ed Gruchalla, D-Fargo, has proposed that a first offense for DUI bring up to a one-year suspension of license, 30 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. A second offense would bring up to five-year license suspension, six months in jail and $10,000 in fines and for a third offense, a maximum penalty of permanent license revocation, five years in prison and a $100,000 fine.


The two bills will set the parameters for the DUI discussion once the Legislature begins its work on Jan. 8. North Dakota needs to address alcohol-related issues, and making the DUI law tougher is just one strategy to accomplish that goal. Let’s all hope they succeed.




Tennessee: Cook – Pandora’s box of wine


Source: Times Free Press

Dec 28th


Drinking a glass of wine tonight? Got a bottle picked out for New Year’s Eve?


Seems like a good idea — a more convenient one — to sell wine in grocery stores. We ought to be able to go in and buy our dog food, Raisin Bran and pinot noir, all in one stop.


But selling wine in grocery stores — which continues to attract the attention of Nashville legislators — is kind of like a political version of what happens when we drink too much: Things aren’t always as they seem.


“If I didn’t know as much as I do about this, I would think I should be able to go into a grocery store and buy wine,” said Chris Bratcher, owner of Riverside Wine and Spirits. “But what people don’t understand is that you’ve got this underlying set of regulations in place.”


You must be a Tennessee resident to own a liquor store here. You can own only one. (And you’re forbidden from running for public office).


You can’t operate your store within 500 feet of a church or school. No one under 21 can walk in. You’re forbidden to sell anything — not even a bottle opener — other than wine or spirits.


Putting wine in grocery stores corkscrews local liquor store owners because it gives such massive and unfair advantage to out-of-state grocery store corporations that don’t have to play by the same rules.


Plus, it opens a Pandora’s box of wine problems.


If, say, Bi-Lo and Kroger (not prohibited from being located within 500 feet of a school or church) sell wine, then why not liquor? Why not on Sunday?


What about gas stations? They sell food. Shouldn’t they sell wine and whiskey, too?


How about CVS and Walgreens? They sell food. And beer. Why not wine? Jagermeister alongside the cough syrup? (They’re so similar anyway).


The only way to do this fairly and justly is to erase all the liquor regulations. Any booze, anywhere, anytime.


“It’s not a level playing field if you tell mom-and-pop operators we’re going to leave your rules intact, but we’re going to let other stores carry the product you’ve made your business on,” Bratcher said.


It’s misleading to claim wine in grocery stores would increase tax revenue. More people won’t suddenly start buying wine; they’ll just start buying it in different places. Which means the old places — locally owned liquor stores — will suffer. Badly.


“There is a reason there are no family-owned grocery stores left,” said Bratcher.


He predicts 30 percent of local liquor stores could go out of business. The folks at Athens Distributing estimate the same. Terrell Hurley, owner of Riley’s Wine & Spirits, predicts 20 percent.


“If we lose half of our [wine sales], then we’re going to have to lay off people,” said Hurley, who has been in the local liquor industry for decades. “If you really want to drive your own economy, why would you give [away] a piece of that economy? No grocery store chain is headquartered in Tennessee. Not one.”


If state legislators are responsible for the well-being of their constituents, then allowing wine in grocery stores — which then ship more revenue out of state — violates that social contract.


I’ve seen studies that show wine isn’t cheaper in grocery stores. I’ve heard it will be easier for teens to buy alcohol. Grocery stores won’t stock thoughtful wines.


All in the name of convenience?


When I first heard the idea, I liked it, too. One stop is easier than two.


But I’ve come to enjoy stopping by the liquor store, where folks know and understand wine. It’s one of those important — and increasingly rare — social interactions, where commerce, personalities and neighborhoods intersect.


And making an extra stop to spend $10 on a bottle of wine crafted from grapes grown half a world away and turned into one of the most delicious drinks on earth is not really an inconvenience.


It ought to be something we savor.


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One Response to “Liquor Industry News”

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