Beverage Bulletin December 2014

California Beverage Retailers Association

Beverage Bulletin

P.O. Box 56686

Sherman Oaks, CA 91413

(818) 788-8120

Ron Ziff, Editor

December 2014

This Month's Stories Include:

Headline News Stories-Looping Louie Flies Again! Champagne Growers Protest, How Will Berkeley Tax Work?, Bud vs Clydesdales: Clydesdales Win, Drought Update, Water Crime


Celebrities in the Industry - Snoop Dogg, Jay Z, Sean Diddy, Kevin Harvick, David Beckham and Victoria, Robin Williams


Popular Culture - 10 New Books Reviewed, Movie, What do you drink with a TV Drama?


Wine - Bible Wine, Greek Wine History, Hospices de Beaune Sets Record, Broker Turns Down Suspected Counterfeits, Wine Embezzler Pleads Guilty, Renaming California Wine, Treasury Estates Restructuring?, Mussolini's Wine Cellar/Office, Central Valley Growers Have Bad Year, Napa Land to be Developed, One Word Wine List, Wine Taste Improved, Sonoma Event Rules Enforced, Mother Grape Saved, Winemaker Marks a Century, 2014 Beaujolais Nouveau Released, 2014 California Nouveau


Beer - UK Tied Houses May End, Beer at Barnes & Noble?, AB/Inbev Sales Soft, Tequila Flavored Beer, AB/Inbev Buys Craft Brewer, Busch Family Farms Hops


Spirits - Diageo and Casa Cuervo Trade, Diageo Delays Expansion, Customers Pressure Diageo on Pimms #6, Do You Tip the Bartender?, New Aged Whiskey


Other Foods and Beverages - Food Trends for 2015, California's Oldest Restaurant,

Meat Labeling Changed, Starbucks Brewing a Profit, A GMO Potato in Your Future?, No GMO Labels on Food, Meat and Butter Prices Volatile, Matcha Tea Break


The Changing Market - Private Label Gains Acceptance, Retailers Not Keeping Up With Consumers, Robot Clerks Help Customers, Apple Pay Upsets U.S. Market, Alipay and ShopRunner Help U.S, Retailers Sell in China,

Outback Seats Customers Digitally, Soda Stream Changes Direction, Coupons Not Changing


Recipe - Sriracha Bloody Mary


Health - Alcohol Helps Memory


...and as always Tasting Notes and the Industry Calendar


Whiskey is by far the most popular of all remedies that won't cure a cold. - Jerry Vale

Headline News Stories

Champagne Growers Protest

Grape growers in Chalon-en-Champagne demonstrated in protest over taxes and regulation. More than 4,000 growers were bussed to the government headquarters for the protest. They crowded around the tax offices wearing green hats and carrying banners that read “Lache-nous la Grappe!” to show their unity. They say the current level of taxation and regulation threatens their ability to survive and turn the vineyards over to another generation. It's been a long time, but, similar protests rocked the region when farmers rioted in 1910 and 1911.



Looping Louie Flies Again!

One of the most popular games in Germany is a board game combined with a mechanical airplane. Looping Louie by Hasbro was a kids game with slow sales 20 years ago. The game eventually died completely almost everywhere. Now it's making a comeback as a drinking game for college kids in Germany. 1.3 million copies have been sold and it's #2 on German Amazon. The airplane whirls around the board and eventually hits somebody's chicken coop. The player whose coop got hit downs a mug of beer or a shot of Schnapps, then the plane starts another round. 9 out of 10 students play the game. The game was never popular in the U.S. and Hasbro sold the rights to Longshore, a Hong Kong company, in 2006. Then sales suddenly recovered in Germany. Longshore feels their ship airplane has come in. Hasbro will relaunch it here in 2015, now paying royalties to Longshore. Exchange students are already bringing it back to U.S. colleges. Need a Christmas gift for your college kid? There are a few copies imported from Germany available on Amazon; about $50. Is $50 too much? If you can order from Walmart Canada it's for only $10 Canadian plus shipping.


How Will Berkeley Tax Work?

The International Business Times says no one really knows how Berkeley's new soda tax will work. The tax applies to the first distributor based in the city. In most cases that's the retailer. The retailer would be allowed to recoup the tax as he sees fit. That means he could raise the price of milk, bread, and eggs to recoup his tax payments. Sugared soda sales are already sliding. But, the tax applies to an eclectic list of beverages including energy drinks, coffee drinks, some fruit juices, sports drinks, tea, and syrup to flavor coffee. Chocolate milk, 100% fruit juice, and alcoholic beverages are exempt. Consumers would drive a few blocks to save $1.20 on a 12 pack of Coke, so it's possible retailers won't put the tax directly on any single item. Retailers and Foodservice could even absorb the tax in order to keep business. The tax passed in November with a vote margin of 75% in favor and 25% against. Retired New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $650,000 to the pro-tax campaign. A spokesman for Bloomberg says he “stands ready to assess and assist” other communities in similar efforts.

Bud vs Clydesdales: Clydesdales Win

AB/Inbev announced that it was changing its tradition of Superbowl ads featuring Clydesdale horses in its effort to make Budweiser more relevant to young beer drinkers. The announcement set off a fire storm of criticism on the internet and only hours later AB/Inbev announced that the decision was reversed and the horses will be back for the Superbowl.

Drought Update

No Senate Bill

Senator Diane Feinstein has decided to drop plans for a water bill for this year. She said she will try again in 2015.

Future Droughts May Be Worse

Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S. Geological Survey predict that future droughts in California will be longer and harsher than the drought we are currently experiencing. They used computer modeling to study climate effects on the Sierra snowpack. The models showed that by 2050 the snowpack will be 1/3 less than the historical average and by 2100 it will be 2/3 less.

New Water Plan

The Department of Water Resources(DWR) has issued a revised California Water Plan that lists 350 strategies to increase water supplies and conservation. John Laird, Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, which oversees the DWR, said “Conservation as a way of life in California is something that simply has to be done.”

Water Crime

The state is experiencing a new crime “water theft.” In San Ramon a construction crew was caught taking water from a fire hydrant. An inspector ordered them to stop. The crew did stop and started taking water again after the inspector left. In Modesto 6 homeowners were fined $1500 each for taking water from a canal. In North San Juan officials are trying to find out who stole water from a fire department tank. In the East Bay Municipal Utility District a contractor got a permit to use hydrant water for a construction job, then was caught using it to fill swimming pools. The Dublin San Ramon Services District has caught several contractors stealing water from hydrants.

Brewer Conservation

Anheuser Busch Van Nuys Brewery says it has reduced water usage by 31% since 2009; by 9% the past year; and plans to reduce by another 10% in the next year. The brewery now cleans tanks with recycled water. It has torn out landscaping and replaced it with drought resistant plants. That saved 5 million gallons of water. Employees are encouraged to come up with water saving measures.

Celebrities in the Industry

While filming music videos on location in Brazil, Snoop Dogg, gained an appreciation for the country's native liquor, cachaḉa. He found a favorite brand in Cuca Fresca and bought stock in the company. He is now partnering with the company to combine the Brazilian lifestyle with his own “cool” reputation to promote it in the run up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Cachaḉa is made from sugar cane like rum. But by a totally different process yielding a different liquor.


Sean Diddy and Diageo formed a joint venture that bought Deleon Tequila in January. Line extensions will be released soon in the luxury end of the market. Platinum and Reposado will start at $60 a bottle.


Nascar driver, Kevin Harvick, won the Sprint Cup on November 16. Sponsored by Budweiser, he and his team celebrated in the only way that made sense: they drank 80 cases of their sponsor's product.


David Beckham reportedly bought a vineyard as a gift for his wife, Victoria, in 2008. The wine is not offered commercially and the vineyard is only identified as being “in the Napa area.” The Beckhams have the property farmed and managed for them by professionals.


Rapper, Jay Z, has bought the rights to Armand de Brignac Champagne from Sovereign Brands. A spokesperson for Sovereign said he “made us an offer we simply couldn't refuse.” Previously Jay Z had a stake in the Champagne valued at $50 million. His financial statement values his total net worth at $520 million. The Champagne sells for $300 a bottle and has become the preferred brand at many night clubs worldwide.

Robin Williams' Belvedere

Robin Williams Mt. Veeder estate and 18 acre vineyard is back on the market. It had originally been offered for $35 million, then was reduced to $29.9 million last April. He died in August. The new listing price is $25.9 million. The house includes a belvedere that is reached from the master bedroom. A belvedere is a bell tower without a bell that serves as a lookout. This one has a seating area and has a view of the Napa Valley.


Popular Culture


This year's crop of holiday book releases includes a library full of books on wine, beer, cocktails, and whiskey. These books all make excellent holiday gifts for the serious reader, but be careful when ordering. Some are in limited availability and dealers are selling the hard to get copies for up to $200.

Of All the Gin Joints by Mark Bailey, Algonquin Books, 336 pages $21.95. The history of alcohol and Hollywood in a heady mix of anecdotes, tall tales, memorable quotes, and movie stars favorite cocktail recipes. Read about movie sets awash in drinks or how Mary Pickford stored liquor in her used peroxide bottles.

The 12 Bottle Bar: A Dozen Bottles, Hundreds of Cocktails by David Solmonson and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson, Workman Publishing, 416 pages, paperback $14.95. A married couple in LA got tired of paying bar prices for their drinks and spent 5 years accumulating 200 drink recipes and bar techniques to make them. This is the result.

Tasting Whiskey by Lew Bryson, Storey Publishing 256 pages, $18.95. This book delves into the intricacies of whiskey tasting, serving, storing, making, and traditions. There is something here for both the expert or the amateur.

The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique by Jeffrey Morganthaler, Chronicle Books, $30. Morganthaler is the bar manager of Clyde Common and Pepe le Moko in Portland, Oregon. In this book the author teaches how to mix drinks; how to select bar equipment; and how to make syrups, infusions, bitters, purees, and tonic water from scratch.

Death & Co.: Modern Classic Cocktails by David Kaplan, Alex Day, and Nick Fauchald, Ten Speed Press 320 pages $40. The authors share the secrets of their bar, one of New York's hottest spots. The philosophy of bar tending, what it takes to put it all together, and 500 cocktail recipes including some proprietary drinks.

The Drinker's Guide to Healthy Living by Gerald Facciani, 176 pages, $14.95, published by DGHL. Provides a guide to live long and well and enjoy wine while doing it. It covers diet, nutrition, exercise and general wellness. Doesn't break new ground on these subjects, but brings them all together and examines the available information.

The World of Sicilian Wine by Bill Nesto, MW and Frances Di Savio, University of California Press, 320 pages $34.95. The authors go into complete detail of the wines of Sicily, grapes, their production, and history.

Postmodern Winemaking by Clark Smith, University of California Press, 368 pages, $34.95. All the state of the art techniques are here in detail. A must have for professionals and home winemaking.

American Wine Economics by James Thornton, University of California Press, 368 pages, $39.95. The hard facts of wine production in the U.S. and its relation to the world wine market.

If You Give A Guy A Beer by J. Edward, Amazon, 30 pages $9.99, Kindle Edition $2.99. If you buy a guy a beer he'll want popcorn to go with it. Every so often a book comes along that is destined to become a classic. This is not that book. It is more likely to be purchased as a last second gift for a brother-in-law, a coffee table book, or a bathroom reader. Enjoy this simple funny story of one guy’s calamitous romp through an evening that begins when you give a guy a beer.


American Wine Story from Three Crows Media chronicles the story of Jimi Brooks, an Oregon winemaker, who died unexpectedly and left his winery to his 8 year old son, Pascal. Brooks sister, friends, and neighboring wineries pitched in to keep the winery running and keep Brooks dream alive. The film was released on Veterans Day 2014. The Beverage Bulletin previously reviewed the wines.


What do you drink with a TV drama? If you're watching ABC's Scandal, and want to drink along with Olivia Pope, it's red wine. She's retreated to a tropical island, but has red wine brought by boat. Her male counterpart, Jake Ballard, cools off with a beer. On CBS, Alicia Florrick of The Good Wife, has a goblet of red wine at 5 PM after a hard day of defense lawyering. The Reagan Family on Bluebloods, has a family dinner at the end of each show. Red wine always fills their glasses. Family members over 21, actually drink what looks like a California red.



Bible Wine

What was wine like in the time of the Bible? Was it white or red, sweet or dry? Elyashiv Drori is trying to find out. In 2011 she sent Israeli students out to find wild grapes. They were able to find 100 types, of which 10 were suitable for winemaking. Now she has asked DNA Biologist Mali Salmon-Divol to sequence the grapes genes and compare the results with 3,000 year old dried grapes found in Jerusalem. The object of all the study is to make wines unique to Israel that have an historical tie to ancient times. There are wine grapes grown in the country today, but they duplicate what comes from Europe and California.

Greek Wine History

John Barnes, a doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri, has analyzed the decorations on a 2,600 year old Greek wine cup and found they represent constellations. The cup is a skyphos, or 2 handled cup. The discovery is significant because little is known about Greek knowledge of the sky prior to about 500 BC although we do know the Greeks drank wine.

Hospices de Beaune Sets Record

The 154th annual Hospices de Beaune auction drew 8.8 million ($11.1 million), the highest total ever. 534 barrels of 47 wines were sold at an average increase of 5.6% over last year. White wines were up 14.5% and red wines up 3.4%. In the past, the auction has been considered to be an indicator of the business climate in Burgundy. Anthony Hanso MW, of Christie's wine department said this year's auction was motivated by charitable giving.

Broker Turns Down Suspected Counterfeits

A wine trader has been offering 12 bottles of Comte Georges de Vogue Musigny Vieilles Vignes 1947. London wine broker, Corney & Barrow, reported that they had turned down the wine as the “bottles appeared suspicious.” The bottles were numbered sequentially, but did not have case packing. Even single bottles of this rare wine are unusual to find at such an age. Dealers are wary of such offerings after the conviction of Rudy Kurniawan for wine counterfeiting.

Wine Embezzler Pleads Guilty

Joshua Krummenoehl, founder of Wine Gavel auction house has pleaded guilty to embezzlement. He had been arrested tin July for pocketing auction proceeds. The deal he made with prosecutors includes restitution of more than $500,000. Sentencing is scheduled for January 27. He could face up to 3 years in prison.

Renaming California Wine

Trade negotiations currently underway between the Obama Administration and the European Union could have broad effects on the California wine industry. The EU is asking for exclusive use of some wine terms. California wines with names like Sherry, Port, Madeira, and others might have to be renamed and relabeled.

Treasury Estates Restructuring?

Treasury Wine Estates seems to be cashing out its inventory by making unprecedented discounts to retailers. Retailers report they are getting discounts of 10% to 30% on top of the line, Penfold's Grange, an item never before discounted. Managing Director, Mike Clarke, denies the reports, but says they are providing market support and advertising for the brand. While the very good, very large, 2009 vintage is selling through, the 2010 vintage is being offered 7 months early. Usually released in May, the wine was released October 16. The company says this is to take advantage of consumer purchases for the holiday season and Chinese New Year in February. Rumors involving bankruptcy, takeover, or a sale have swirled around the company in recent months.

Central Valley Growers Have Bad Year

Growers of Thompson Seedless grapes are having another tough year. A number of factors are working against them. A big crop of wine grapes reduced the need to use Thompsons for blending in low end wines. Water prices in the Central Valley were high. Growers can usually sell their grapes to be made into concentrate. But, concentrate coming out of Argentina is at about half the price of U.S. product. This has forced industrial users into imported juice. The only outlet is turning the grapes into raisins. Some growers in the southern San Joaquin Valley were offered only $200 a ton for their grapes and had a hard time covering costs. More than 10,000 acres were pulled out and more may follow.

Napa Land to be Developed

Napa County Planners have cleared a housing development called Napa Pipe. The project will have 700 to 945 homes, a Costco, a senior retirement center, a hotel, stores, parks, trails and other features.


One Word Wine List

The TBD Restaurant in San Francisco has a highly successful wine list that makes it easy for diners to select wines. The descriptions are one or two words. How does “Dry Chenin Blanc” or “Not-so-Dry Chenin Blanc” sound? No confusion here. Sales are great.

Winemaker Marks a Century

Peter Mondavi of Charles Krug Winery was 100 years old on November 6. Peter's parents Cesare and Rosa Mondavi bought the Napa Valley winery in 1943. Peter developed the cold fermentation process, that makes white wine taste fresh, at the University of California in the late 1940's. Later, he was one of several who introduced French Oak barrels to Napa Valley. It was a dispute over barrels and the style of wine that led to the Peter and his brother, Robert Mondavi, parting ways. Peter became President of the winery in 1976 when his mother died. Today, his sons, Marc and Peter Jr. do most of the work, but Peter still leads this historic winery.

Mussolini's Wine Cellar/Office

The Italian government has opened a former wine cellar and air raid shelter as a museum. The property was originally built in Rome by the Torlonia family in the early 19th century. Mussolini rented it for 1 lire a year when he took over the government in 1925. The underground wine cellar portion of the villa has several rooms, an office, and a theater. In 1942-43 it was converted to a bomb shelter to protect against the Allied Armies moving north from Africa. Until 1947 the Allies used it as a headquarters and then abandoned it. In 1977 the Italian government purchased the property and in 1991 started 23 years of renovation. Now it is open to the public. You can take a one minute video tour of the villa above the wine cellar by going to

Wine Taste Improved

The Sonic Decanter claims it will make your wine taste better in only 20 minutes for red, 15 minutes for white. Ultra-sound waves do the trick. A video will show you how the patented system works at:

Sonoma Event Rules Enforced

The Sonoma County Planning Commission is cracking down on Bella Vineyards, a Dry Creek winery, and may force them to stop holding winery events. The action comes as officials have documented that Bella has exceeded the number of events allowed annually for over 10 years. The action will affect weddings, parties, festivals, special tastings, and winery tours. Other wineries are scrambling to bring themselves into compliance in order to maintain their business model.

Mother Grape Saved

The rare Gouais Blanc grape is the “Mother Grape” of many varieties including Chardonnay and Gamay. It has been cultivated in parts of Europe since the middle ages, but has become increasingly rare as vineyards are replanted. Recently, a group in Switzerland saved a small vineyard planted in Gouais Blanc. Dr. Jose Vouillamoz, a grape geneticist, and a group of 33 friends started a foundation to save the planting for future generations. It included 27 rare varietals The Gouais Blanc grape produces a crisp white wine.

2014 Beaujolais Nouveau Released

The 2014 Beaujolais Nouveau has been released in time for the holiday season. Who really drinks this traditional fresh and fruity wine made from the Gamay Grape? 57% is consumed right in France and 43% is exported. Japan is the #1 importer with 7.9 million bottles, the U.S. is #2 with 1.8 million bottles, Germany is #3 with 734 thousand; followed by Belgium, Netherlands, UK, China, Latvia, Italy, and Canada with imports that range from 331,000 to 153,000 bottles.

2014 California Nouveau

This year's quiet surprise was a Charles Shaw “Nouveau” at Trader Joe's for $2.49. No, it's not Beaujolais and the grape variety is not named. But, it's bright and fresh and definitely Nouveau style. The only question is “Why has no one in California has done this before?



UK Tied Houses May End

The UK House of Commons has passed a bill that would end the 400 year old Tied House system that is used to supply Pubs. Pubs are leased from brewers or beer wholesalers that then sell their own beer exclusively to the tenant. Supporters of the bill say that it will bring competition to the industry and lower the wholesale price of beer and pub rents. They feel it is the only way to save the local pubs that have been closing at an alarming rate for the past several years. About 13,000 pubs would be affected. The British Beer & Pub Association, a trade group of pubs and brewers, and the Conservative led government opposed the bill; saying it would lead to job cuts and the closure of 1,400 pubs. The bill passed Commons by a vote of 284 to 259. It now goes to the House of Lords for approval before it can become law. If the Lords make any significant changes, it will have to go back to Commons for another vote.

Beer at Barnes & Noble?

In its quest to become diversified Barnes and Noble is now selling home craft brewing kits. The kits come complete with grain, hops, and yeast. The basic kit is for Pale Ale or Hefeweizen for $39.95. Refill recipe kits that work with the basic kit can also be purchased for $15 to make more Pale Ale or Hefeweizen or to make Brown ale or Stout.

AB/Inbev Sales Soft

AB/Inbev reports weak sales for the quarter just ended. It blames the sales drop on problems in the U.S., Russia, and the Ukraine. U.S. sales volume was off 3.7% and revenue down 2.6%. The difference between the two figures is because prices have been increased on key brands.

Tequila Flavored Beer

AB/Inbev will introduce a new beer that tastes like Tequila in 2015. The drink is designed to attract young drinkers, who are choosing spirits and Mexican beer. Oculto will be flavored with Blue Agave juice and aged with wood from Tequila barrels. It will have an alcohol content of 6%. Heineken is already selling a Tequila flavored beer called Desparados in the Southeast U.S.. Desparados will go nationwide next year.

AB/Inbev Buys Craft Brewer

AB/Inbev has purchased craft brewer, 10 Barrel Brewing Co. of Bend Oregon. The terms were not disclosed. The craft brewer is Oregon's 8th largest. Production was 23,000 barrels in 2013 and will be about 40,000 this year.

Busch Family Farms Hops

Alicia and Louis Hager, brother and sister, great great grandchildren of August Busch have started a hop farm on a 1,000 acre property in New York State that Busch bought in the 1880's. Currently, 11 acres are planted with hops. Plantings will be doubled next year. They have a two year contract to supply a nearby craft brewer. Eventually, they plan to brew their own. Hops bines (not vines) need a lot of water and New York was the nation's biggest producer at one time. During Prohibition the farms had to change crops. Now, with the craft brewing revival, hops farming is coming back.



Diageo and Cuervo Trade

Diageo and Casa Cuervo have traded brands. Cuervo will get Bushmills Irish Whisky. Diageo will get the 50% of Don Julio Tequila that it doesn't already own, $408 million, and will get back the distribution rights to Smirnoff Vodka for Mexico. Recently, Don Julio sales have been growing at a rate of 25% per year.

Diageo Delays Expansion

Diageo has postponed expansion of its Scotch producing facility in Teaninich in the Scottish Highlands. In 2012 the company had decided to invest $1.6 billion in the plant to keep up with demand. Now, with demand sliding in developing markets and China, the need for Scotch doesn't justify the expense. A spokesman for Diageo says it “will continue to review and adjust” its timing.

Customers Pressure Diageo on Pimms #6

Pimms #6 was discontinued by Diageo, but will be returning to retailers shelves by next summer. The drink was introduced as a Vodka Sling in 1964 and Diageo thought it had run its course. The decision met with a huge consumer backlash as the company was bombarded with letters, emails, and social media posts. It will return as a Vodka Cup.

Do You Tip the Bartender?

The cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas, has two robotic bartenders. Order a drink and a robot goes to work. Could Star Trek's Replicator do a better job? Before you get your drink the robot scans your RFID bracelet for age. The only problem is that there's no point in telling this bartender your problems.

New Aged Whiskey

Time and Oak has obtained financing to manufacture Whiskey Elements. The new product is a wooden stick with horizontal cuts. By putting one in a 750ml of whiskey for 24 hours the whiskey gains flavoring that is the equivalent of 3 years of aging. The stick imparts accents of vanilla, smoke, peat, oak, and maple. It is good for a single use at a cost of $12 for a Bourbon stick or $14 for a Scotch stick.

Other Foods and Beverages

Food Trends for 2015

Consumers continue to take on new food experiences as fast as they come along. Here are 8 trends to watch and try to catch the wave. Restaurants can add to menus and retail can adjust shelf space.

  1. Asian Exploration. New recipes, new ingredients, defining the differences between food cultures will as consumers search out Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese, and other cuisines.

  2. Matcha. Japanese drinks from powdered tea leaves that invigorate and relax at the same time.

  3. Edible Marijuana. Where it is a legal ingredient, new food products will appear in tasty and healthful new products.

  4. New Beer Flavors. The major brewers are trying Tequila flavored beer. Craft brewers will be replacing the bitterness of hops with herb, spice, and fruit flavors.

  5. Charcoal. Chefs and food processors will experiment with adding charcoal as a food ingredient.

  6. Grain Sourcing. Bakers will identify the grain variety, region of production, and even the farms where it is grown as consumers examine the fine points of baked goods.

  7. The search for better sweeteners. Sweeteners like Stevia and sweeteners with lower glycemic indexes will be tried.

  8. Growth of Kosher Foods. Kosher foods have been growing in sales. The growth will continue as consumers look for pure, sustainable, and healthier foods.


    California's Oldest Restaurant

San Francisco's Tadich Grill is the oldest restaurant in California. Established in 1849. It started as a tent at the end of a pier where Croatian immigrants served coffee and grilled fish during the Gold Rush. It moved in 1853 when the pier was taken down for a landfill project. Since then it's been moved several times and now sits at 240 California Street where waiters still serve fish to hungry diners that sometimes wait hours in line. The restaurant and saloon (now a bar) survived earthquakes in 1906 and 1989; and Prohibition. Open Monday through Saturday, no reservations.

Meat Labeling Changed

The World Trade Organization ruled on October 20 that the U.S. Country of Origin labeling regulations on meat are in violation of global trade rules that require imports to be treated no less favorably than domestic products. Canada and Mexico had argued that the regulations slowed sales. The U.S. has appealed the decision.

Starbucks Brewing a Profit

Starbucks had a good quarter. Profits for the quarter were $588 million compared with a loss of $1.23 billion last year. Revenue was $4.23 billion; same store sales were up 5%; 1599 new stores were opened in the past 12 months. 1650 new stores are planned for the next 12 months. If you don't have time to get to the store for a cup of coffee, Starbucks has a new plan; it will schedule the delivery of your favorite brew to your desk at the same time each day, 5 days a week.

A GMO Potato in Your Future?

The USDA has approved a genetically modified potato developed by Simplot. The Innate Potato has two improved attributes. It resists bruising, which makes many potatoes unmarketable. It also produces lower levels of acrylamide, a potential carcinogen, when cooked at high temperatures. The genes that were added to the potato's DNA were sourced from cultivated and wild potato plants during a 10 year process. The plant was evaluated by the USDA and judged not to be a danger to other plants. It has also been submitted to the FDA for approval. Simplot processes about 3 billion pounds of potatoes a year.

No GMO Labels on Food

Voters in Oregon and Colorado rejected proposals which would have required labeling of products made with genetically modified crops (GMO). Many processed food products would have been labeled because most corn and soy beans grown in the U.S. are GMO. Voters on the Hawaiian island of Maui passed a measure prohibiting the growing of GMO crops on the island until the county analyzes the public health and environmental effects of the crops.

Meat and Butter Prices Volatile

Live cattle futures hit a record $1.705 per pound. Prices have increased 23% so far this year. Consumers and restaurants are already pressed by the price of meat. Look for higher beef prices ahead. Meanwhile there was a bubble in the butter market. The price was pushed to $3.10 a pound and then crashed to $1.80. Major buyers that had commitments for the holiday season were forced to take delivery at high prices and then sell low to retail and restaurants.

Matcha Tea Break

Matcha Green Tea from Japan is enjoying a burst of sales as consumers find out about its energizing properties. Cold drinks made with the powdered tea leaves have about 70 milligrams of caffeine. That's almost as much as coffee. But, the tea also contains L-theanine, a chemical that relaxes the mind. The result is calm, relaxed, energy; the perfect mood enhancer for mid-afternoon.

The Changing Market

Private Label Gains Acceptance

Nielsen reports that as quality has improved consumers have a heightened acceptance of private label goods. The Nielsen survey shows that 71% say that private labels have improved over time. The survey covered 30,000 consumers in 60 countries. 70% say they buy private label to save money. 67% feel it is a good value for the money. 62% say it makes them feel like smarter shoppers. Market share varies by region. Overall it is 15% in developed countries; 45% in Europe, and below 10% in developing countries, in China it is less than 5%. Private label growth is the highest in commodity categories and comes at the expense of small and mid-size brands.

Retailers Not Keeping Up With Consumers

According to Retail Insight 94% of retailers, suppliers, and logistics companies have not executed an omnichannel strategy and 37% don't even have one. On the consumer side, customers expect a consistent experience from retailers that have items in stock; and to be able to order them online, by phone, or at store level; and have them delivered promptly. While most retailers are concerned with going online, eyeglass seller Warby Parker has gone the other way. The company started by selling high end fashion eyeglasses at affordable prices online. In 2013 it opened 8 stores nationwide. The stores are selling at the lofty rate of $3,000 a square foot annually.

Robot Clerks Help Customers

Lowes hardware is testing 2 retail service robots in an OSH store in San Jose. The robots, called OSHbots, will help customers and employees. They will be able to answer simple questions like the location of products, inventory levels, and can connect to an employee at another store to get information on doing a specific project.

Apple Pay Upsets U.S. Market

Apple has launched a payment system called ApplePay to compete with PayPal. CVS and RiteAid are not participating because they are part of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) that will launch its own system, CurrentC. Walgreens is signing on with Apple for nationwide use of the ApplePay system.

Alipay and ShopRunner Help U.S, Retailers Sell in China

A partnership between Alipay, online payment system, and ShopRunner, an online shopping system, will allow Chinese customers to shop online and buy directly from U.S. retailers for delivery in China. On the U.S. end ShopRunner contracts with major retailers to offer their goods through the system. At the Chinese end, the customer is clicking through and virtually buying directly from the U.S. retailer.

Outback Seats Customers Digitally

Outback Steakhouse will use Click Thru Seating, a seating app, that allows customers to check wait times at the restaurant from any connected device and make a seating reservation.

Soda Stream Changes Direction

Soda Stream is trying to reposition itself as a sparkling water company as its market for home mixed soda pop seems to be collapsing. CEO, Daniel Birnbaum, said “the market opportunity in front of us is tremendous.” He noted that the $200 billion worldwide soda business is in rapid transition, as companies of all sizes are experiencing a shift in consumer preference away from soda drinks. The U.S. seems to be leading the trend. Soda Stream is now offering mixes to create sparkling water and natural flavored waters.

Coupons Not Changing

Consumer shopping and vendor promotions are rapidly shifting to digital. Some of the change is internet based and some is through smart phones, ipads and ipods. What hasn't changed is couponing. Vendors still found print coupon promotions worked very well through the recession and after. In the first 6 months of 2014 171 billion coupons were distributed. 92.5% were in free standing inserts in Sunday newspapers, 6.1% in other print media, and only 1.4% in all digital combined. Of coupons distributed about 1% are redeemed. One advantage to print coupons is that, once they are cut out, they serve as a reminder to make a purchase.



Sriracha Bloody Mary

(A drink whose time has come)


2 oz. Vodka

4 oz. Tomato Juice

1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

1/4 t Grated Horseradish

1/4 t Sriracha Sauce

2 pinches Celery Salt

2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce


Mix all ingredients and stir (don't shake). Pour into an ice filled glass and garnish with a celery stick.


Alcohol Helps Memory

Researchers at the University of Texas, University of Kentucky, and University of Maryland found that moderate alcohol consumption by older people helps memory. The study involved 660 individuals who were over 60 and did not have dementia. Light to moderate alcohol consumption improved the ability to recall events in both long and short term memory. There were no significant differences in cognitive, or other brain function. However, the volume of the hippocampus was increased.

Tasting Notes

Each month we are out there looking for wines that “over deliver”; wines that offer more than others in their category and price level. We search out the wines that you can buy to help build your business; wines that make customers happy and keep them coming back. These are wines we rate as good buys and best buys. Check our notes. The opinions in the reviews are our own and unsolicited. We receive no compensation from wineries or brokers. This month there were several wine tastings that showed some very nice wines available at reasonable prices. The prices shown are approximate retails.

Stars of Cabernet

The Stars of Cabernet Tasting showed some of the finest wines produced in California. It included one surprise vineyard that was a sleeper. But more about that later. The tasting was hosted by Learn About Wine at Beverly Hills Peninsula Hotel. It was well organized a showcase for these great wines.


Duckhorn Cabernet 2012 Sonoma $19.99. This wine was a good example of Cabernet. It had good color and nose, a little light in body, but a good affordable cab. Contact or (866) 367-9945.


Louis Martini Cabernet 2011 $34.99. Good color and nose, good body, this one is a standard. It is consistent and priced at an affordable level. Contact through the website or Jessica Little at or (209) 247-6701.


Emblem Cabernet, Napa Valley 2012 Carneros $35. Good color, good nose, medium body, a good wine that is comparable in style and quality to many at higher prices. A good buy. Made by Michael Mondavi and his children Rob and Dina. Contact or (707) 256-2700.


Tierra Roja 2011 Cabernet 2011 Oakville $140. This one is a sleeper. A little pricier than the others we picked, but WOW! It compares well with other Napa Cabs selling for hundreds more. Good color and nose, full body, excellent and elegant character. This wine can be found on some top wine lists. Contact Linda Neal at or (707) 944-8720.

Spain's Great Match

The tasting featured Tempranillo and Garnacha as well as blends from a number of producers. There were many great values. We can only list a few here.


Finca Hispana Xarel.lo 2013 $9.99 and Garnacha Blanca 2013 $9.99. Both were bright fresh white wines. Monestrell 2012 $14.99. A red with good nose and color, medium body. Cava Brut Imperial Reserva $14.99. A bright sparkling wine made from 1/3 each Parellada, Macabeo, Xarel.lo and aged 22 months. Imported by Vindimia. Contact or (631) 833-6102.

Torres Sangre de Toro 2013 $9.99. Blood Red blend, good nose nice body. Contact Ryan Pennington or (425) 415- 3359


CIV Pata Negra Roble 2012 $9.99. 100% Tempranillo, light body, good color and nose, a good buy for this wine. Good with food. Contact (800) 669-1972 or





Pinot Days Southern California

was held at the Skirball Cultural Center. There were many wineries tasting Pinot Noir and other wines. They ranged from good to very good to great. We only have room to mention a few of the exciting bottlings here.


DeLoach 2012 Green Valley Pinot Noir, $45. Good color and nose, complex. Contact Melinda LeBlanc, Southwest Regional SalesManager at Boisset Family Estates or (310) 991-0004.


Martin Ray Russian River Pinot Noir 2013, $25. Santa Rosa. Good Color, good nose, round and full. Contact Tiffany Zolli, Director of Sales at or (707) 829-6152.


Thorne 2010 Pinot Noir, $35. Santa Rita Hills. Good color and nose, round, well aged. A good buy. Contact A Groner Thorne at or (805) 693-1483.


Wrath Pommard 2012, $33. Soledad. Good color, nose, great burgundy style wine. This is a best buy. Contact Claire Marlin, Managing Director, at (831) 678-2212.


Rusack Pinot Noir 2012 $72. This Catalina Island wine continues to be one of the most interesting and unique wines. Good Color and nose, round, with unique character. Contact Kara Van Corbach at or (805) 691-5107.

Industry Calendar

12/4 North Coast Wine Industry Expo - Sonoma

12/17 -24 Chanukah

12/25 Christmas

12/31 New Years Eve


1/21 Stars of Santa Barbara – Beverly Hills

1/22 Benvenuto Brunello - SFO

1/27 Italian Slow Wine Tasting-LA

1/28 Zinfandel Advocates - Alameda

1/29 Italian Slow Wine Tasting-SFO


New Legislation for 2015

Our industry has more laws controlling it than most industries. The State

Legislature and the ABC give us license privileges and can take them away. New alcoholic beverage laws were passed that will be effective in 2015. Many critical issues are pending. Do you know about them and are you prepared for the changes. Is your business safe? Members are encouraged to look through the Legislative Bulletin. If there is a new law that is a problem for your business, call the association office now. The CBRA is your voice in Sacramento. If you are not a member, join today. The CBRA is your only voice when it comes to new beverage laws.

Brands and Comments

The CBRA Newsletter has not accepted any payment from any of the brands mentioned

in this edition. The editor, Ron Ziff, welcomes comments at

CBRA Membership Remains Open

Now, more than ever, access to your industry is important. The CBRA is California's

only statewide association of licensed retailers, and our membership continues to be

open for the first time in 20 years.

At CBRA we deal with licenses and regulations that affect the beverage business on a

daily basis. That's why CBRA offers practical solutions, unique products, services,

information, and timely advice for both large and small beverage businesses. With

reasonable fees, superior service, and associates that are easy to reach, CBRA helps you

to run your business better and easier. One of the most valuable services we offer is that

call to the ABC to ask your question. We can ask that question and keep you anonymous. That's something you just can't do yourself.

Join or renew your valuable membership today. You can't afford to delay.

California Beverage Retailers Association – California's Only Statewide Association of Licensees. We're #1!

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