Liquor Industry News 4-2-13

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Tuesday April 2nd 2013

Today Is A Biodynamic FRUIT Day

Great To Taste Or Drink Wine!

Scotch sales hit by eurozone debt crisis

 

Source: The Scotsman

By PETER RANSCOMBE

Tuesday 2 April 2013 09:38

 

Scotch whisky exports edged up by just 1 per cent last year as changes to the rate of duty in France and the eurozone debt crisis continued to take their toll.

 

Overseas sales hit £4.3 billion, a new record, but failed to match the 23 per cent rise reported in 2011 when French retailers stocked but ahead of a tax change or the 10 per cent notched up in 2010.

 

The volume of Scotch exports fell by 5 per cent to just under 1.2 billion 70cl bottles.

 

Yet Scotch still brought in an average of £135 a second for the UK’s balance of trade, despite the eurozone debt crisis forcing consumers in Mediterranean countries to cut back on their spending.

 

Highlights in the latest set of figures – released today by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) trade body – included sales in the United States breaking through the £700 million barrier for the first time to hit £758m, cementing America’s position as whisky’s largest export market.

 

Globally, single malt exports have risen by 190 per cent over the past decade from £268m to £778m as consumers develop a taste for more-expensive whiskies.

 

Gavin Hewitt, the SWA’s chief executive, said: “Scotch whisky continues to lead the way for UK food and drink exports.

 

“A combination of successful trade negotiations, excellent marketing by producers, growing demand from mature markets, particularly the US, and the growing middle class in emerging economies helped exports hit a record £4.3bn last year. We are contributing massively to the government’s wish for an export-led recovery.

 

“There is confidence in the future of the industry, illustrated by the £2bn capital investment that Scotch whisky producers have committed over the next three to four years. New distilleries have opened and older ones brought back to use to meet rising demand.”

 

The trends highlighted in the full-year figures reflect those flagged-up in the interim data from the SWA back in October.

 

Exports to Singapore, which acts as a distribution hub for many Asian countries, were up 7 per cent to £339m, with Taiwan 7 per cent higher at £165m and direct shipments to China growing by 8 per cent to £72m.

 

Indian imports jumped by 17 per cent to £62m despite an “onerous” 150 per cent import tariff and local taxes.

 

The SWA said: “A successful outcome to on-going negotiations between the European Union (EU) and India on the free trade agreement (FTA) would reduce the onerous 150 per cent import tariff.”

 

Whisky is one of the UK’s fastest-growing exports to Mexico, increasing by 14 per cent to £92m.

 

Imports in other South American countries have also benefited from a FTA with the EU.

 

 

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Molson Coors Brewing Co. (TAP): “TAP” into NA employment recovery and new products; Buy

 

Source: Goldman Sachs

April 1st

 

INVESTMENT LIST MEMBERSHIP: Americas Buy List

COVERAGE VIEW: NEUTRAL

 

Source of opportunity

We upgrade shares of Molson Coors (TAP) to Buy from Neutral and raise our 12-month price target to $63 (from $47) implying 29% upside. We believe TAP is a compelling risk/reward proposition as the US employment recovery and a new product cycle drive upward earnings revisions and multiple re-rating for this deep value asset. This is an out-of-consensus call as TAP is one of the most under-loved stocks in Consumer Staples with valuation in the bottom decile of the group. We are above consensus in each of the next three years and are forecasting a 17% multiple expansion to 14X P/E as improving volume erodes the negative sentiment.

 

Catalyst

Improving volume in NA – The key catalyst driving our upside expectations is the rising tide of a recovery in N. American beer volumes in response to an improving employment environment.

New products driving better market share and improved mix – 2013 points to a promising new product pipeline, with brands such as Third Shift and Redd Ale going after a ‘whitespace’ opportunity at a higher price point. We estimate new products could add ~4% to MillerCoors’ volume.

 

Cost savings announcement in June – We see margin upside potential on a new cost savings program likely to be announced at the June Investor Day and Europe synergies from the Starbev acquisition.

 

Capital deployment potential should begin to come into view – We expect the share buyback to be resumed in 2014.

 

Valuation

Our 12-month P/E based price target is $63, up from $47, on a higher P/E (14X from 11X) and higher EPS due to an improved fundamental outlook.

 

Key risks

Lower NA beer volumes, reduced pricing power and M&A.

 

 

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Chinese liquor maker’s net profit jumps 61 pct

 

Source: Xinhua

April 02, 2013

 

Wuliangye Yibin Co., Ltd., one of China’s top liquor brands, announced Monday that its 2012 net profit surged 61.35 percent year on year to 9.94 billion yuan (1.6 billion U.S. dollars).

 

However, the alcohol drinks maker warned in its annual report to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange that such rapid growth might not be repeated this year due to “changes in macro policy and economic environment,” predicting a “slowdown” in revenue.

 

In December, the Chinese government launched a national campaign prohibiting officials and military officers from extravagance.

 

Many analysts fear the frugality push will have a sizeable impact on liquor makers, which have been relying heavily on government receptions and business banquets for revenues.

 

Business revenues of Wuliangye rose 33.66 percent to 27.2 billion yuan, said the liquor distiller, which is based in the city of Yibin of southwestern Sichuan Province.

 

The board proposed a pre-tax cash dividend of 8 yuan for every 10 shares, which could cost the firm 3.04 billion yuan. The proposal is still subject to the approval of shareholders.

 

The producer said in its annual report that it booked a combined gain of 772,066 yuan in equity investment, with an investment profit of 1.95 million yuan in China Merchants Bank, a 1.11 million yuan loss in China Unicom shares and a 54,000 yuan loss in China Cosco shares.

 

In February, China’s top price regulator — the National Development and Reform Commission — ordered Wuliangye to pay 202 million yuan in fines for price-fixing, while Kweichow Moutai Co. , the biggest spirits producer by market value, was also penalized for 247 million yuan.

 

Moutai’s net profit increased 51.86 percent year on year to 13.31 billion yuan last year.

 

The share price of Wuliangye dropped 1.84 percent to 21.93 yuan in Shenzhen on Monday.

 

 

——

Anheuser-Busch releases statement about class-action lawsuit

 

Source: KSDK

Apr 1, 2013   

 

Anheuser-Busch has released a statement regarding a class-action lawsuit against the company.

 

Peter Kraemer, vice president of brewing and supply, says former employee Jim Clark “improperly used and misrepresented” confidential information for personal gain.

 

Kraemer says there was never a complaint filed regarding accusations of the company cutting the stated alcohol content by 3 to 8 percent.

 

NewsChannel 5’s I-Team hired St. Louis Testing Labs to test the alcohol content of Budweiser and Coors beers in February.

 

The tests showed both beers contained their stated alcohol content of five percent.

 

Here is Kraemer’s full statement:

 

“Jim Clark is a former employee, now a California lawyer, who is working with the lawyers who brought several class-action lawsuits against Anheuser-Busch. We believe Clark improperly used and misrepresented our confidential information to instigate these lawsuits, all for his personal gain. We will take all legal means to stop him.

 

“Our company has a formal process for employees to make complaints confidentially through a third-party, yet none was ever filed on this matter. We believe this was an orchestrated effort by Clark to misrepresent our processes and smear our company and brands, yet knowing fully that the company complies with all alcohol labeling laws and adheres to the highest standards in brewing.

 

“We don’t disclose our recipes, intellectual property or other key competitive information, which are vital to our operation and competitiveness. Our employees understand this and sign agreements to protect information like this, which is standard in most companies.

 

“We would never compromise the quality or the taste of any of our beers for any reason. Producing the highest-quality beer is the basis for everything we do.

 

“The class-action lawsuits are groundless and the claims against Anheuser-Busch are completely false.”

 

 

——

AB InBev Accused Of Retaliation Over Watered-Down Beer Suit

 

Source: Law 360

By Kurt Orzeck

April 01, 2013

 

An ex-Anheuser-Busch InBev NV employee-turned-lawyer on Friday urged a California federal judge to dismiss the company’s trade secrets suit against him, accusing AB InBev of retaliation over his role in a class action alleging the company watered down its beer.

 

In a memorandum, former director of operations support James Alan Clark said AB InBev had broken federal law by filing a breach of contract suit against him because the “vague and winnable” complaint was a transparent effort to trample on his free speech rights. The company’s suit also violates California law barring strategic lawsuits against public participation, he said.

 

“To allow AB [InBev] to proceed with this vindictive litigation would empower all employers to punish former employees like Mr. Clark for reporting misconduct and for speaking out on behalf of consumers,” the memorandum said. “If this motion is not granted, additional employee witnesses would be dissuaded from speaking out about the true nature of AB [InBev]’s products and of the company’s widespread deception.”

 

Clark worked for AB InBev from November 1998 until June 2012, when he resigned to begin practicing law, according to the memo. He claims that, during that time frame, he complained to roughly 20 senior managers that the company watered down its beers – including Budweiser, Bud Ice and Michelob – in order to churn out more units of beer from the same starting batch of ingredients.

 

One of Clark’s first forays into law was a planned class action related to his allegations, the memo says. He says he turned to the Mills Law Firm and Bramson Plutzik Mahler & Birkhaeuser LLP for help in prosecuting the case.

 

In December, the Mills Law Firm sent AB InBev a notice for corrective action over the alleged manufacture of watered-down beer. Clark alleges the company knew of his involvement in the planned suit because it contacted him about it, even though Clark’s name didn’t appear on the notice.

 

In February, Clark refused AB InBev’s demand that he testify under oath that he had not misappropriated any confidential information in the lead-up to the lawsuit filing, according to the memo. Two beer drinkers filed the class action in California federal court on Feb. 22, and three days later, other beer drinkers submitted similar class actions in New Jersey and Pennsylvania federal courts.

 

AB InBev filed its suit on March 1, accusing him of breaching confidentiality agreements and misappropriating trade secrets, then told Clark it would settle if he revealed the alleged trade secrets he gave to the California class action plaintiff’s attorneys and named any AB InBev employees who were assisting them, he claims.

 

“AB’s settlement offer … denotes clearly and unmistakably that the instant SLAPP action arises out of Mr. Clark’s constitutional rights of petition and free speech exercised in connection with the class action,” the memo said.

 

Clark claims he did not take any AB InBev documents with him when he resigned and that he hasn’t disclosed company trade secrets to any competitor, proceeding or investigation. He added that AB InBev’s suit doesn’t allege specific instances of trade secrets misappropriation or breach of contract.

 

Clark cited California’s anti-SLAPP statute – which seeks to reduce meritless federal complaints involving diversity and protect whistleblowers from legal retribution – in asking the judge to dismiss AB InBev’s suit. He noted that information involved in the California class action was protected by attorney-client privilege.

 

AB InBev, for its part, says Clark’s allegations against the company are meritless.

 

“Clark improperly used and misrepresented our confidential information to instigate [the class action lawsuits,] all for his personal gain,” AB InBev vice president of brewing and supply Peter Kraemer said Monday. “We believe this was an orchestrated effort by Clark to misrepresent our processes and smear our company and brands, yet knowing fully that the company complies with all alcohol labeling laws and adheres to the highest standards in brewing.”

 

Attorneys for the defendant did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

 

The plaintiffs are represented by Marcus S. Topel of Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP.

 

The defendant is represented by Robert A. Carichoff of the Law Office of Robert A. Carichoff.

 

The case is Anheuser-Busch Cos. LLC et al. v. James Alan Clark, case number 2:13-cv-00415, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

 

–Additional reporting by Megan Stride. Editing by Elizabeth Bowen.

 

 

——

America’s Beer Distributors Recognize National Alcohol Awareness Month

 

Highlight Effective Role of State-Based Alcohol Regulation

 

Source: NBWA

April 1st

 

During the month of April, the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) will be recognizing Alcohol Awareness Month, as designated by the U.S. Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to raise awareness about the problem of alcohol abuse.

 

“Alcohol is a unique product that is not for everyone,” said NBWA President Craig Purser. “National Alcohol Awareness Month is a great time to recognize that alcoholic beverages need to be effectively regulated so they are not abused and do not end up in the hands of those under the legal drinking age. Responsibility begins with effective regulation, and the U.S. has been fortunate to have a time-tested system of alcohol regulation in place for eight decades – a system that allows the states to decide how best to regulate and track alcohol.”

 

The 130,000 men and women of the American beer distribution industry play a critical role in the effort to encourage responsible consumption and eliminate alcohol abuse of all types, including drunk driving and the underage purchase and consumption of alcohol.  Alcohol is not like other consumer products and can have consequences if abused. That’s why beer distributors are regulated and work to take steps to ensure the safe and legal sale of alcohol, fight efforts to weaken regulations that provide a safe and orderly marketplace and participate in programs that promote alcohol education and responsible consumption only by adults of legal drinking age.

 

NBWA encourages parents, educators and community leaders to utilize SAMHSA resources that can help educate young people about the dangers of underage drinking and the importance of making smart decisions. More information about these resources can be found at www.stopalcoholabuse.gov.

 

To read about responsibility initiatives America’s beer distributors have launched in their local communities, visit www.distributorresponsibility.com.

 

 

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Which drinker is most at risk of getting liver disease? The results of our scientific test will astonish you (Excerpt)

 

Source: Daily Mail

By Angela Epstein

1 April 2013

 

Liver disease is now the fifth biggest killer in the UK – with the number of people dying from it rising by 20 per cent over the past decade. However, there are often no warning signs until it is far advanced, so many of us could have the potentially fatal condition without even realising it.

 

Indeed, when the British Liver Trust recently offered members of the public on-the-spot screening, one in four people tested showed signs of early scarring.

 

‘Most people die of liver disease after just their first or second admission to hospital for it, as they have not realised they were suffering with it – and their condition will be so far advanced. By the time they are seen, it is too late,’ says Dr Martin Prince, consultant hepatologist at the Manchester Royal Infirmary.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2302486/Which-drinkers-risk-getting-liver-disease-The-results-scientific-test-astonish-you.html

 

 

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Iowa: Prolific tiny liquor stores blamed for Des Moines crime

 

Source: Des Moines Register

Mar 31, 2013

 

Tom Duax pulls no punches when he talks about his competitor across Second Avenue in Des Moines – or others that have sprouted up in his scrappy neighborhood.

 

The owner of Central City Liquors and his employees say the competitor, Nat’s Food Mart, opens at 6 a.m. to a steady stream of ne’er-do-wells who are looking to buy cheap booze and, they suspect, those synthetic products people smoke.

 

“Here’s my proof: Every morning I sweep my parking lot … I find remnants of packages that say, ‘Not for human consumption,’ ” he said.

 

Nat’s, attached to a Star gas station at 1443 Second Ave., is one of numerous stores in the neighborhood busted recently for selling alcohol to minors.

 

Database: Class E liquor licenses

 

Duax’s questions to The Des Moines Register Reader’s Watchdog: Why are the state and city allowing so many of these mom-and-pop liquor stores to proliferate, and why don’t they more effectively enforce laws on such businesses?

 

“This is not about competition,” insists Duax, a veteran in the business who owns one of the largest liquor stores in the state. “It’s about safety. Do we really need 67 places in Des Moines selling liquor? That is that many more that can sell liquor to minors and whatever else comes along.”

 

Jasjit “Ben” and Geet Singh, owners of Nat’s, say it’s absolutely about competition.

 

The couple said they do not sell synthetic drugs or anything else related to drugs, and their neighbor is hell-bent on running them out of business.

 

Duax, they say, has made trouble for them with the city, the state and in the neighborhood.

 

“We’re business rivals,” Ben Singh said. “I understand he thinks there are too many liquor licenses now, but we’re not the only ones.”

 

When I visited Nat’s for the first time in February, chains covered the beer coolers, the price of a 30-day suspended license after workers twice sold alcohol to underage customers. There were cheap cigars and regular incense, but no products in sight that looked like synthetic drugs.

 

Many of the stores Duax gripes about popped up after the Legislature changed a years-old state law in 2011, and allowed gas-selling convenience stores to sell hard liquor, including whiskey and vodka, in their aisles.

 

Today, there are 15 such stores within a couple of miles of Duax’s business, according to a map I obtained from the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. Most of them received licenses before new regulations were put in place by the city that attempt to reign in new business near old liquor stores, and they are not subject to newer rules prohibiting sales near schools and other places where families dwell.

 

Nat’s Food Mart was the only one of those stores in Des Moines with a suspended Class E liquor license last month. The suspension ended March 6, city officials said.

 

The Singhs say they fired the employees who sold to underage customers and provided state-led training for everyone else who works for them to assure such sales don’t happen again.

 

“But it hasn’t mattered,” Geet Singh told me. “From the day we got our license suspension, this is what we have had to go through.”

 

Duax is correct that other competitors in the area have gotten in trouble for selling to minors. One of them, the Kum & Go at 2211 University Ave., had its license suspended for 60 days Feb. 28 for selling to minors, according to officials.

 

A Kum & Go at Southeast 14th Street and Park Avenue was fined last spring for the same. And the Shop N Save at 1829 Sixth Ave. has been in trouble in 2011 and 2012 for selling to minors, state records show. Also dinged: the Downtown Pantry at 204 Fourth St. and Smokin’ Joe’s Tobacco and Liquor at 2914 E. University Ave.

 

On Monday, Des Moines City Council members doled out $500 fines for sales to minors to University Groceries at 21st Street and University Avenue, Last Stop Beverage Shop at 2839 E. University Ave., Git-N-Go at 3274 E. University Ave. and Kum & Go at 3104 University Ave. A public hearing is set for April 8.

 

The Des Moines council spent a great deal of time last year trying to reign the expansion of businesses with Class E liquor licenses, imposing a moratorium on new ones until new regulations were developed.

 

At the time, Khalid Khan’s Fast Mart, located on Buchanan Street near East High School, was one of several small liquor stores in trouble with the city. His store was accused in February of selling synthetic marijuana responsible for the hospitalization of three Des Moines students.

 

Like the Singhs, Khan said at the time that he has taken steps to deny improper sales to minors. And like the Singhs, he said preventing liquor sales at his business would significantly affect his ability to provide for his family.

 

After the Legislature expanded liquor sales in 2011, the city prohibited new Class E liquor licenses near churches, schools, day cares and parks, and it required any small store to be at least a quarter of a mile from any similar business already selling liquor. That slowed requests for new licenses, according to City Attorney Jeff Lester.

 

City Councilman Brian Meyer said he has resisted drafting any new rules that would discriminate among different businesses based on size or location.

 

But in answer to Duax’s questions, state and city officials are beginning to crack down.

 

Des Moines city officials have been mulling new rules that would attempt to reign in so-called nuisance liquor stores like nuisance properties or bars.

 

City Councilwoman Christine Hensley said the proliferation of new licenses in urban areas is also a huge concern for the Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division. She met last week with officials from Kum & Go and others to explore a state law change that would allow competition while giving cities more authority to revoke the licenses of problem businesses.

 

Synthetic drugs? Duax also will be glad to know the state and city are working to go after any business suspected of selling them.

 

In February, the state attorney general’s office obtained a court order to seize products suspected of being synthetic drugs from a store owned by Sarbreet Singh and Sandeep Kaur under Iowa’s Consumer Fraud Act. The two own a Shop N Save at 4685 N.W. Second St. The move came after an undercover officer purchased a product called “7H” and a glass smoking pipe on Nov. 28, 2012, followed by an ongoing investigation by the police and U.S. Postal Service.

 

“There will be more – absolutely,” said Bill Brauch, who heads the office’s Consumer Protection Division. “This was not the only matter under investigation.”

 

The Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy this year upped the ante yet again in its pursuit of businesses that sell those products.

 

A bill before the House Ways and Means Committee would make carrying amounts of the drug-like substances as small as 1 gram a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $7,500 fine. Another bill that aimed to reign in new types of imitation drugs, including “fake pot,” died after failing to advance in either chamber.

 

“Legislators expressed some frustration that there is already some blanket language in the code that is not being extensively used,” said Steve Lukan, director of the Drug Control Policy office. “But prosecutors would say they don’t know if that blanket language is strong enough to take into court. And unless the crime is a felony, it’s not as high on their to-do list.”

 

Lukan did say, however, that his office is working with the state Alcoholic Beverages Division to train investigators to notify the Division of Narcotics Enforcement when a business is suspected of selling synthetic drugs.

 

The Legislature’s move in 2011 clearly opened up new business, but a lot of resources are now being spent to curb criminal activity, especially in urban areas like Des Moines.

 

We all have to ask: What will be the price that we ultimately pay?

 

 

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Pennsylvania: The downside of privatized liquor sales

 

Source: Lancaster Online

By DAVID BENDER, Special to the Sunday News

Mar 31, 2013

 

Want to know what drinking looks like in Pennsylvania? Put 100 adults in a room with 100 bottles of liquor. Come back later and you’ll find 7 of them drinking half the bottles. The other 93 are cleaning up the mess. Throw in adolescents and it gets uglier. Toss the latest plan for privatization into the room and you start writing hefty tax checks, especially if you’re one of the 93.

 

Privatization is not bad, but it’s not free. Despite claims of revenue neutrality, it’s not even close. The mostly unread 200-page bill that hit the House floor completely changed the sources of budget revenue. But not one person voting on it reviewed an analysis of longterm financial impact. That’s because no such analysis was prepared. What business owner would sell an asset without that information?

 

You own this asset. It’s up to you to demand the accounting. Legislative leadership failed to check the state pension numbers in 2001 and created the multibillion dollar crisis you’re paying for today. They’ll do it again unless you insist otherwise.

 

Don’t like math? Let’s have fun. Say you own a machine pumping out $550 in cash this year. A guy in a nice suit says he’ll give you $800 for the machine and you’ll get $500 plus small increases every year. Not a bad deal if you invest the money in another machine. But you’re broke. So you spend the $800. It’s gone.

 

You’re happy until you recall how the machine increased your payout every year. By year 10 it’s cranking $900 to the new owner; by year 20 it’s up to $1,500. The small increases promised by the guy in the nice suit don’t come near that, so the gap is at least $300 in year 10 and $700 in year 20. Add six zeros to those numbers and you get the current version of privatization. You, the taxpayer, will be called on to fill a $700 million hole. All for someone else’s cheap vodka.

 

I’m a free market guy and understand why you’re being asked to give up your share of ownership in the stores. But anyone making that argument needs to acknowledge the cost. The only way to balance the books with privatization is to raise the liquor tax from 18% to at least 30% depending on which bill is passed.

 

Being one of the 93 percent who don’t pound down bottles, I’d be fine with that increase. The 7 percent who drink the most ought to pay the most. But the latest proposal doesn’t do that. It picks up one end of a table holding treasure that currently belongs to all of the citizens and sends that money sliding into the pockets of licensees and the controlling distilleries in France, Britain, India, South Africa and China. It hits up 93 percent of hard-working Pennsylvanians for what was lost. Those who drink the least will pay the most.

 

Just ask yourself these questions: Will easily accessed alcohol lead Pennsylvania to global excellence? Will a greater selection of alcohol improve the health of our citizens? Will it raise workforce readiness? Will it enhance technological innovation? Will it improve academic performance? Will it foster the development of new cutting edge industries?

 

You know the answers. Privatize or don’t, but give us an accounting.

 

David Bender is executive director and CEO of Compass Mark, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the incidence, prevalence and consequences of the abuse of and addiction to alcohol and other drugs.

 

 

——

NABCA Legislative Update: March 16, 2013-March 29, 2013

 

Source: NABCA

April 1st

 

http://www.nabca.org/News/Files/130329%20Legislation%20and%20Regulation%20State%20Update.pdf

 

http://www.nabca.org/News/Files/130329%20Legislation%20and%20Regulation%20Category%20Update.pdf

 

http://www.nabca.org/News/Files/130329%20Regulatory%20Update.pdf

 

 

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Washington Wines Pack High Alcohol Wallop, Little Else

 

Source: Bloomberg

By John Mariani

Apr 1, 2013

 

On a recent trip to Seattle I had the chance to revisit the wines of Washington state, the nation’s second largest premium wine producer after California.

 

I’ve always had high regard for a few estates like the pioneering Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest.

 

Washington has had wine grape plantings since 1825, and today the state has 750 wineries and 13 approved appellations selling $3 billion a year.

 

Yet, it only became a modern viticultural region during the 1970s, when strides were made in producing consistently good vinifera like chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot in the Yakima and Columbia River valleys.

 

Since then, there has been a good deal of experimentation with other varietals like riesling, semillon and syrah, and some of the state’s very best wines are late harvest dessert wines. Rieslings in particular have compared variably with those in Alsace and New York state for their balance of fruit and acidity.

 

Washington has always prided itself on intense, highly tannic, high-alcohol wines that show well in their youth but often lose brightness and complexity with age. This, I’m sorry to say, was even more prevalent among the wines I sampled then I can recall from previous tastings.

 

One Dimensional

 

The most salient example was a Woodward Canyon Old Vines Dedication Series #28 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($75) from Walla Walla. With a whopping 16.5 percent alcohol, it was all full- tilt tannin and new oak, and after just half a glass, I found nothing distinctive about it except for its one-dimensional character. After five years this monster should have loosened up but hasn’t.

 

The same winery’s Artist Series #18 ($45) was only 15.8 percent alcohol, but still felt like a blow to the palate rather than a pleasurable wine, despite a Bordeaux-like blend of cabernet franc, merlot, petit verdot and syrah in with the cabernet sauvignon.

 

Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, is a much- ballyhooed cult favorite that sells in stores for between $300 and $400. At 14.9 percent alcohol and a decade old it was a blockbuster, but once it exploded in the mouth, there was no finish of any kind.

Veal Chop

 

I found relief from the brash alcohol levels with a well- fruited Seven Hills Merlot 2007 ($22) whose softness was due to the varietal, while an inexpensive cabernet sauvignon from Chaz Point 2010 ($18) showed round levels of fruit and a pleasing lushness that went very well with a veal chop over dinner.

 

There was also a good mix of strawberry-like fruit and cherry flavors in JM Cellars Tre Fanciulli 2007 ($35). It’s a judicious blend of 67 percent cabernet sauvignon, 19 percent merlot and 14 percent syrah which boosted the elegance of the wine. At only 14.4 percent alcohol, it shows how the terroir of the Columbia Valley, whose south-facing slopes get a great deal of solar radiation, can produce power within a velvet glove.

 

Among the rieslings I drank in Seattle, I very much enjoyed a citrus-bright Efeste Evergreen Vineyard 2011 ($17) that was an ideal match with cold shellfish.

 

Boom Boom

 

Washington vintners have a knack for quirky names for their wines, like Boom Boom, Livewire and Jigsaw. Kung Fu Girl, a riesling by Charles Smith, is a crowd pleaser at about $10; it makes no pretensions other than to show off good apple, melon flavors and a little sweetness that makes it a fine aperitif.

 

Smith says that he “focuses on the way people generally consume wine today: immediately. The intent was (and still is) to create wines to be enjoyed now, but with true ‘typicity’ of both the varietal and the vineyard.” His motto? “It’s just wine, drink it.”

 

Wine is a lot more, certainly, but Washington vintners should step away from thinking that a bigger wine is a better wine.

 

(John Mariani writes about wine for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

 

 

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Brown Brothers puts White Hills Vineyard for sale

 

Source: DBR

02 April 2013

 

Brown Brothers, an Australia-based family-owned wine company, has placed its White Hills Vineyard in Tasmania for sale, as part of plans to restructure its business due to decline of sales in Europe.

 

White Hills Vineyard was purchased from a timber company Gunns in 2010.

 

Located in the Tamar Valley in the north of Tasmania, the 83ha vineyard is planted with varieties such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer.

 

Brown Brothers chief executive Ronald Wahlquist was quoted by themercury.com as saying that the sale was part of the company’s broader restructure program.

 

“We have asked the permanent employees to stay on and run the vineyard until it sells,” Wahlquist added.

 

“We are still selling grapes from that operation and the vineyard market is sound.”

 

The winery also owns The Hazards Vineyard and Kayena Vineyard in Tasmania region, which it plans to retain.

 

Brown Brothers also plans to sell its Whitlands Vineyard in Victoria.

 

 

——

Indian wine market to experience slow performance in coming years: Report

 

Source: DBR

01 April 2013

 

The performance of Indian wine market in the next five years may not be as good as what it was between 2006 and 2011, finds a new survey by UK-based research firm Canadean – Wines & Spirits.

 

According to the report ‘The Future of the Wine Market in India, to 2016’, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of India’s wine industry during 2011-16 period is expected to be 5%, compared to 7.56% posted in the review period.

 

India’s experience has been more or less same even from the consumption point of view, noted Canadean.

 

The wine consumption in 2011 rose by 44% over 2006 figures, while the survey estimates for 2016 is pegged at about 27.4% over 2011.

 

The slow-down in growth rate has reflected similarly among the industry’s segments, including still wine and sparkling wine. Fortified wine, however, is yet to penetrate in the Indian market.

 

According to the survey, still wine retains the monopoly in the country’s vast wine market with a consistent share from 2006 through 2016.

 

With little more than 70% share in 2006 and 2011, the still wine market is likely to continue the momentum until 2016 with a steady performance. Sparkling wine has accounted for the remaining share of the Indian wine market in both review and forecast periods.

 

 

——

Oldenburg owner hits out at Pinotage

 

Source: the drinks business

by Lucy Shaw

28th March, 2013

 

Adrian Vanderspuy of Oldenburg Vineyards in Stellenbosch has blasted South Africa’s flasgship red grape Pinotage, stating he has no interest in the variety.

 

Speaking to the drinks business at a wine dinner at High Timber in London last night, Vanderspuy said: “Pinotage? I’ll leave the banana wines to other people.

 

“I don’t like the grape variety and have no interest in planting it. There is so much more South Africa can do to a higher level.”

 

South African-born, Switzerland-based Vanderspuy, who owns the boutique, 30-hectare Oldenburg estate in the Banghoek Valley in Stellenbosch, is instead putting his energies into Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.

 

For his soon-to-be-released top wine, red blend Rhodium 2010, he decided to give Merlot a starring role in place of Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

“I wanted to lead with Merlot because everyone is leading with Cabernet Sauvignon, and as a relatively new estate owner, I wanted to be different,” he told db.

 

“I started with 50% Cabernet in the blend but whittled it out completely in the end as the Merlot and Cabernet Franc worked so well together with a dash of Malbec.

 

“If you tasted the Malbec on its own you’d want to drink it by the gallon. It’s the most beautiful inky purple colour and has wonderful perfume,” he added.

 

Despite currently leading with Merlot, Vanderspuy, whose biggest export markets are Germany, Switzerland and the UK, hasn’t ruled out the idea of a Bordeaux-based red blend.

 

“I’m new to the game so am still working out which varieties are working best for us. It’s hard to single one out as having the best potential in South Africa.

 

“For us it would probably be Cabernet Sauvignon, but I think South Africa might end up having the most success with red blends that are more than the sum of their parts,” he said.

 

Rather than plough millions into building a winery, Vanderspuy currently rents the winemaking facilities at Glenelly, the Stellenbosch estate owned by former Château Pichon-Longueville owner May Elaine de Lencquesaing.

 

As for the whites, Vanderspuy believes passionately in the potential of Chenin Blanc, particularly when paired with a small percentage of Chardonnay and aged in 50% new French oak.

 

“Chenin has such a strong link to South Africa and it’s such a versatile grape.

 

“When I bought the estate in 2003 I had the chance to make Sauvignon Blanc but thought that in a few years there would be a glut and the thirst for it would die down,” Vanderspuy admitted.

 

“The world doesn’t need any more Sauvignon Blanc but it does need more Chenin,” he added.

 

Vanderspuy’s Chenin has caught the eye of Chenin pioneer Ken Forrester, who buys the grapes Oldenburg doesn’t use to vinify at his own estate and sell on.

 

 

——

Carrefour eyes Brazil and China for growth

 

Source: FT

By Scheherazade Daneshkhu in Paris

April 1st

 

Carrefour is working on a plan to expand its operations in Brazil and China, the details of which the French retailer is set to reveal at the start of next year, according to the group’s chairman and chief executive.

 

“Our rate of growth in these regions is probably insufficient. We are working on a strategy; these are big countries and there are lots of possibilities but I hope the plan will be ready by the beginning of next year,” says Georges Plassat in his first English-language newspaper interview since his arrival last year at Carrefour’s headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt, west Paris.

 

Brazil and China are Carrefour’s second- and fifth-largest markets by sales respectively. While sales in Latin America – including Argentina – increased 14 per cent last year, they fell 10 per cent in Asia, which includes Taiwan and a small business in India.

 

Mr Plassat attributes much of that decline to China’s slowing economy and leadership change. “The Chinese economy is now focusing more on its interior and that’s where our future lies,” he says.

 

Since joining Carrefour a year ago, the veteran retailer has conducted a merciless diagnosis of the group’s problems. It was a “headless chicken” in which many executives had been “sedated” by the heavy hand of centralisation imposed on them by his predecessor, Lars Olofsson.

 

Mr Plassat’s rapid implementation of a new strategy, his confident, no-nonsense manner and successful record at Vivarte – the French retail conglomerate he turned to profit before joining Carrefour – have fired hopes that the world’s second-largest retailer by sales after Walmart is finally being turned round.

 

Those recovery hopes, after a 25 per cent slide in operating profits in three years, and earnings upgrades have lifted the shares 60 per cent since their 18-year low in July.

 

How sustainable that recovery will be remains to be seen.

 

Mr Plassat, who turned 64 last week, says he will do everything he can to create real value for the company “but it won’t be in two minutes”.

 

Critics say Carrefour is too dependent on hypermarkets, a format the retailer claims to have invented in 1963 but which is seen as out of date.

 

Mr Plassat says the hypermarket is not dead, but simply having a midlife crisis and he rejects an oft-proposed solution that reducing space is the answer. “You can often lose more in sales than the proportion of space shut,” he says.

 

Attention has also focused on how Carrefour will turn round non-food sales, which fell 25 per cent between 2004 and 2011.

 

Mr Plassat points out that electrical goods have been falling everywhere and says “the idea that hypermarkets have been worse hit than others by falling non-food sales is nonsense”.

 

But he admits the retailer had previously tried too hard to be fashionable and was “over-geared” towards seasonal stock that took up space. “People don’t go to a hypermarket to buy fashion but to buy things that are simple, basic and practical.”

 

So far, his strategy, which includes giving store managers more autonomy and a low-price pledge on 500 basics, has yielded an encouraging improvement in French operating profit margins to 2.6 per cent – still half those of Walmart and Tesco.

 

“Margins improved because we reduced significant losses caused by poor management – mainly linked to an oversupply of stock that was mind-blowing – that’s been stopped,” he says.

 

Most important is the implementation of a supply chain, integrating the hypermarkets, supermarkets and proximity stores with an IT system that will be the “spine” of the organisation.

 

Analysts at Credit Suisse estimate that poor IT systems led to waste of ?350m last year and that halving waste in France “represents a minimum of 50 basis points opportunity on margin”.

 

Another structural problem is Carrefour’s weighty exposure to slow-growing western markets – including austerity-hit Spain and Italy, which together with France account for 70 per cent of last year’s ?77bn of group sales.

 

Mr Plassat is characteristically blunt about exhortations to rebalance in favour of emerging markets which he thinks is both unrealistic and undesirable, other than in core markets, such as Brazil and China.

 

“We will see for how long the emerging markets maintain high growth,” he says gruffly. “I am thinking beyond the short term.”

 

He has withdrawn from Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia – arguing that Carrefour was too small in those countries – and lossmaking Greece, raising a better than expected ?2.8bn that has been used to reduce debt and reinvest, mainly in Europe.

 

Eric Knight, chief executive of Knight Vinke, the US activist shareholder that has a 1.5 per cent stake, says approvingly: “The Colombia disposal, and others, has helped demonstrate that the value of a number of Carrefour’s international assets is substantially higher than is implied by the whole group’s current valuation.”

 

But others see a downside. “Recent disposals have helped the balance sheet but they have also increased Carrefour’s exposure to mature markets for which capex is also set to rise,” Justin Scarborough, analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said in a note.

 

For Mr Plassat southern Europe, with 160m people, represents among the highest per capital income in the world. “It would be completely stupid to abandon our market position [20 per cent] just because it is going through an economic crisis at the moment.”

He gives prevailing financial fashion short shrift, saying he has “no plans” to put Atacadão, the successful Brazilian cash and carry business, on the market nor for a partial listing of the Chinese business.

 

He intends to demonstrate the value of Carrefour’s property assets – estimated by analysts at ?18bn – through development, potentially including housing projects, rather than through a market listing or sales.

 

In Turkey, Carrefour is in talks with disgruntled joint venture partner Sabanci on options, including combining operations with Migros, a retailer controlled by BC Partners, the London-based private equity group. He says “it is probable” that the situation “will be clarified in several weeks”.

 

What of relations with Carrefour’s powerful 16 per cent shareholder Blue Capital – the joint venture between private equity funds Colony Capital of the US and Groupe Arnault, the investment vehicle of tycoon Bernard Arnault – to whom Mr Olofsson admitted giving fortnightly reports?

 

“I’m left to do my work, there is no interference,” says Mr Plassat. It would be entertaining to see them try.

 

 

——

Washington: Bills would loosen state liquor laws

 

Source: The Spokesman-Review

Jim Camden

April 2nd

 

For all the attention being paid to legal marijuana this session, it’s the more traditional legal intoxicant – alcohol – providing Washington legislators with a greater array of possible changes to state law.

 

More than a dozen bills working their way through the legislative process would increase a person’s ability to consume some form of alcohol at some new setting.

 

A glass of beer or wine in the theater? Several proposals for that.

 

How about a shot of something stronger with that movie? Separate bill for that.

 

Taste a bit of that expensive scotch before buying it at the store? The stores would like to oblige.

 

Free glass of wine with that massage and pedicure? Could be legal later this year.

 

Let college students who are 18 to 21 taste wine if they are in viticulture classes? Prospects look good, although the students won’t be allowed to swallow.

 

Buy a growler of cider at the local microbrewery? Maybe not; could be a problem under federal law.

 

Some say the Legislature has more ideas to loosen up liquor laws because voters in 2011 got the state out of the liquor business. Others say there aren’t more ideas, they’re just being doled out piecemeal rather than wrapped in a single piece of legislation, called an omnibus bill.

 

Last year’s omnibus bill died, and with it, all the work on liquor revisions, said Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake. This year, the strategy is to push them individually.

 

Derek Franklin of the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention testified last Friday against many efforts to loosen alcohol consumption rules. Drinking in theaters and stores would push “the normalization of alcohol,” he said, sending teens a message it’s OK to drink, as well as get in a car to drive after imbibing. Each proposal “may seem small by comparison, but it puts incremental chips in the wall that protects our kids,” he said.

 

Franklin believes the Legislature saw a sharp increase in efforts to expand access to alcohol as a consequence of Initiative 1183, which got the state out of the wholesale and retail alcohol business last year, turning the sale of distilled spirits over to private license holders. Businesses look for additional ways to make money, and the state looks for new revenue from a heavily taxed product, he said.

 

Rick Garza of the Liquor Control Board said the Legislature always has some bills to address the state’s liquor laws, but it faces few new ideas this year. Many tweak existing laws, such as House Bill 1149, which was among the bills approved Monday by the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. Current law says a craft distillery can only sell two liters of its products to one customer in a day; the bill would raise that to three liters.

 

Two other bills would change the rules for the kinds of stores that can offer samples of alcohol: One would allow big-box stores like Target to offer beer and wine samples by removing the current rule that half of a store’s sales must be for groceries in order to offer samples. Another would let liquor stores, wineries and craft distilleries offer samples of spirits, but no more than a half-ounce per sample, and only three samples per customer.

 

Some fail one year and come back the next, Garza said, like a proposal to allow day spas to buy a license to offer a free glass of wine or beer to a customer. The Senate passed a bill to make that legal last month on a 42-7 vote, but it has some resistance in the House, where there are questions whether it’s so broad it would allow free drinks at every nail salon in the state.

 

Another recurring request would loosen restrictions on selling alcohol in theaters. Some venues already offer alcohol on a limited basis by buying a tavern or restaurant license, then selling drinks away from the main concession stand in an area closed to minors. Two proposals would set up a special license for beer and wine sales in movie theaters, and another would add distilled spirits to the options.

 

Allowing more latitude in the sale of alcoholic beverages may be a key to keeping some of the state’s restored movie houses open, several owners told the Commerce Committee last week. Some big multiplexes already do it by restricting one of their many screens for adults. The one- and two-screen theaters need alcohol sales to compete, said Rand Thornsley, owner of the 1927 Liberty Theater in Camas.

 

“Unless we can find some new means of revenue, we’re not going to be able to continue beyond this year,” he said.

 

New this year are proposals to allow college students who are at least 18 but not yet 21 to sample wine as part of a course in culinary arts or viticulture. With the state’s burgeoning wine industry, some universities and community colleges offer courses in the science of making wine, and students should at least be allowed to sample their product and spit it out, said Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, sponsor of House Bill 1459.

 

“It’s similar to taking a cooking class and not being able to taste the food you made,” Holmquist Newbry said.

 

Also new is a proposal to allow patrons to refill a growler – a large personal container – with hard cider. State law already allows customers to buy a growler of beer or ale at a bar or tavern and drink it at home, but not hard cider.

 

Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, said the idea for House Bill 1008 was suggested by his daughter, who was told at a local microbrewery they couldn’t fill her growler with hard cider. The reason: Cider is considered a wine, not a beer, by the federal government for tax purposes. And growler sales of wine aren’t allowed.

 

Hard cider is making a comeback among consumers, and Washington, with its plentiful orchards, is leading the way in resurrecting the industry, Holmquist Newbry said.

 

But Hunt’s bill may need more time to ferment. Garza said the federal agency that collects alcohol taxes isn’t set up to collect revenue on growlers of cider. “This could be a violation of federal law,” he said.

 

 

——

Florida: Florida brewers push to legalize 64-ounce beer ‘growlers’

 

Source: AP

Published April 01, 2013

 

David Wescott has two 32-ounce growlers he brings into Proof Brewing Company to fill up and take home.

 

Why two? Because Florida is one of only three states where it’s illegal to fill one 64-ounce beer container, known as a growler. He can get as many of the 32-ounce containers filled as he wants, and Florida breweries can also fill unlimited 128-ounce growlers for customers to take home. But the size preferred by most beer enthusiasts is banned.

 

“If you’re bringing some beer home for you and the wife, that’s two beers,” Wescott, whose wife calls him a beer snob, said of the quart-sized growlers. “It makes no sense to me. It’s just not logical — 128s are probably too much, 32 is too small. I’d love to get a 64.”

 

Two lawmakers have filed bills to legalize the half-gallon jugs, but a group of beer distributors is fighting both measures and appears to have helped effectively kill both for the year.

 

“It’s really silly. I have in my office a 32-ounce, a gallon and a 64 to show people. And I ask them, `Which one do you think is currently illegal?”‘ said Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation. “They all think the gallon is illegal. They say, `Oh, you’re trying to legalize the big one!’ and I say, `No, it’s the one in the middle,’ and it’s like, `Why is it not legal?’ They don’t get it.”

 

And Edwards doesn’t even drink beer. She said her only motive in sponsoring her bill is economic development. The half-gallon size growlers are an industry standard and are sold at breweries around the country, helping to expand the small businesses.

 

Amherst Brewing Company in Massachusetts, which locals call ABC, has gone through three expansions since the pub opened in 1997. Chloe Drew, ABC’s bar manager, said that growth has been helped by selling the 64-ounce growlers that fill two refrigerated cases at the front of the restaurant.

 

“It’s really good for small towns because they become a destination and people can bring stuff home from that destination. It’s probably only going to bring people back,” Drew said, adding that the Florida law is strange because anyone who wants 64 ounces could simply buy two 32-ounce growlers.

 

The Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, which represents all the state’s Anheuser-Busch distributors, is opposing the bill. Its lobbyist, Mitch Rubin, was able to convince Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, not to give it a hearing at the House Business and Professional Regulation Subcommittee she chairs. Without a House hearing, the bill is essentially dead.

 

Rubin said he is trying to protect the three-tier system of alcohol distribution the federal government set up after Prohibition. It basically ensures that alcoholic products are passed through a distributor to get to retailers. Exceptions have been made, however, for purchases where products are produced, such as buying bottles of wine at a winery.

 

State law does allow take-home sales at breweries, though Rubin argues that language was meant only to allow sales at Busch Gardens in Tampa when Anheuser-Busch brewed beer at what is now a major theme park. He said it was never intended to allow breweries to sell directly to consumers.

 

“It’s definitely operating in the gray,” said Rubin, who said he is not fighting the bill to boost distributers’ profits. “There’s a little to that, but the larger point is about the three-tier system, and that is our larger concern.”

 

At his urging, Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, tried to add a nearly 12-page amendment to Sen. Jack Latvala’s two-line bill. The amendment would have allowed 64-ounce growlers to be sold, but it also would have restricted take-home sales to only the smallest of startup breweries. The Senate Regulated Industries Committee refused to consider the amendment before approving the bill, though Rubin has likely succeeded in halting that measure as well.

 

Latvala noted that it’s hard for beverage laws to be changed because of the powerful lobbying of distributors. He pointed out that it took years for Florida to change a law that only allowed beer cans and bottles in sizes of 8, 12, 16 or 32 ounces. The law, until changed in 2001, kept many imported beers out of Florida because bottles were based on the metric system. Also banned at the time were 22-ounce bottles popular with microbreweries.

 

“It’s the same thing still going on. Those that have the sizes and those that have the distributorships are protecting that,” said Latvala, R-Palm Harbor.

 

Brewers say growlers and tasting rooms are an important part of growing business, especially when certain beers aren’t readily available in stores. A tasting room at Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, for instance, has helped the business grow from two employees in 2009 to more than 50 now, said owner Joey Redner.

 

The larger profit margins on beer sold at Florida breweries helps them reinvest the money to produce more beer, which creates more jobs. Unlike beer giants such as Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, which have automated systems that allow a few people to brew massive amounts of beer, craft brewing is labor intensive. In order to brew more, small breweries have to hire more people.

 

Redner said he believes the wholesalers association is opposing the growler bill to protect its profits, as growlers and brewery tasting rooms help craft brewers expand their market presence.

 

“Ninety-nine percent of their business is a large, foreign-owned company that makes 100 million barrels of beer. That’s where their bread and butter is. These craft breweries, that’s not what’s keeping the lights on for them,” Redner said. “If they can shut the tasting rooms down, they can get rid of some the competition.”

 

The Beer Industry of Florida, which counts MillerCoors distributors among its members, supports allowing the 64-ounce growlers because the industry group doesn’t see the jugs as a threat to the three-tier system, said BIF president Eric Criss.

 

The current rules can be frustrating for out-of-state tourists accustomed to the 64-ounce growlers. Luke Kemper, the owner of Swamp Head Brewery in Gainesville, said more and more often people visiting from other states are told their 64-ounce growlers can’t be filled. Likewise, if they buy a 32- or 128-ounce growler, they probably can’t fill them when they get home.

 

Chris Lashway of Fredericksburg, Va., recently stopped at Proof Brewing in Tallahassee while on his way to South Florida. He likes visiting microbreweries and said he would have liked to buy a 64-ounce container so there would be more to share with his hosts. Instead, he ordered a quart of red ale.

 

“It is very bizarre,” he said of the rules.

 

 

——

Michigan: Editorial: Liquor control updates progressing

 

Need to modernize regulations is key

 

Source: LSJ

Apr. 1, 2013

 

When considering examples of government bureaucracy run amok for its own purposes – rather than for the good of citizens – Michigan’s liquor regulatory process would be Exhibit A.

 

From archaic laws to the puzzling fact that regulations were managed differently in different parts of the state, Michigan’s liquor control process has earned justifiable criticism.

 

So a recent report that cites efforts to apply reason and conformity to Liquor Control Commission operations is most welcome indeed.

 

Gongwer News Service reported key changes last week:

 

. The wait time for permits has dropped nearly 45 percent, from 290 days to 162 days.

 

. More than 40 forms have been eliminated.

 

. The state’s four regional liquor control offices are no longer allowed to create local practices for how they will handle various applications. Instead, officials decided a 35-day review process used in the Grand Rapids office should also be used by offices in Lansing, Escanaba and Southfield.

 

The commission also is reviewing why some procedures meant to be fairly simple and straight forward were instead resulting in added investigations. Liquor Control Commission Chair Andy Deloney told Gongwer that one example involved the law that allowed current licensees to apply for Sunday morning sales. Regulators, he said, had created an additional investigation process that was not part of the legislation.

 

Meanwhile, a selection of bills continues through the legislature looking to modernize and improve existing liquor regulations. Among those changes are some meant to encourage entrepreneurial activity such as allowing small wineries to offer tastings at farmers’ markets or allowing some retailers to refill “growlers,” large containers intended to hold less than a gallon of beer. Other bills deal with allowing conditional licenses and numerous other details meant to update the law.

 

Some of those measures are drawing objections; doubtless the legislative process will help iron out various concerns.

 

But every one involved should keep in mind the paramount issue: Michigan’s outdated liquor control laws hinder small business owners, make it difficult for restaurant companies interested in coming into the state and, in some cases, do a disservice to the state’s burgeoning tourism industry. Liquor regulations should be sensible and evenly enforced.

 

Gov. Rick Snyder’s approach of reviewing both laws and enforcement with an eye toward efficiency and without sacrificing the overall need to regulate and tax alcoholic beverages is the right approach. Citizens will benefit as progress is made.

 

An LSJ editorial

 

 

——

New York: New York City Council Set to Impose Mandatory Paid Sick Leave on New York Restaurants, Bars, Wine and Liquor Stores

 

Source: MPSA

by The Law Offices of David A. Gabay, PC

Apr 1st

 

New York City small business owners are going to be required to provide paid sick leave and/or unpaid sick leave with mandatory job protection, starting April 1, 2014, according to a deal reached in the New York City Council late last week.

 

Here are the key provisions of the bill, according to the City Council press release, a Wall Street Journal article, a New York Times piece, and a story in the New York Post:

 

1. As of April 1, 2014, city employers with 20 or more employees must provide up to 5 paid sick days per year. Employers with less than 20 employees must provide up to 5 unpaid sick days per year, with job protection.

2. As of October 1, 2015, the employee headcount trigger drops to 15 employees.

3. Full time and part time employees are covered, seasonal employees are not.

4. Eligible employees must be on the job for at least 4 months.

5. Enforcement is done through Consumer Affairs (original proposal gave enforcement

to the lovely folks at the Health Department).

6. Fines range from $500-$2,500.00.

7. Employees cannot sue employers directly for non-compliance.

 

If you have questions or need more information on this issue or any other liquor license issue, please call or email David Gabay.

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