Beverage Bulletin January 2015

California Beverage Retailers Association

Beverage Bulletin

P.O. Box 56686

Sherman Oaks, CA 91413

(818) 693-5561

Ron Ziff, Editor

January 2015

This Month's Stories Include:

Headline News Stories -Pepsi May Be Sold, Is There Cuban Rum in Our Future?, Rare Wines Worth $300,000 Stolen from French Laundry, Dozens of New Laws Went into Effect January 1, California Plastic Bag Ban on Hold


Editorial - Governments vs. Corporations


Celebrities in the Industry - Kate Hudson, Matt Bellamy, Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley, and Freddie Jacobson


Popular Culture - Klingon Blood Wine, J.R.Ewing Private Reserve Bourbon.

Books - Barolo and Barbaresco, Natural Wine, An Unlikely Vineyard,

Shadows in the Vineyard

Movies - Stirred Not Shaken

TV - Blood of the Vine


Wine - Historic Corkscrew, Wine Drinker's Personalities, France ends Drinking on the Job, A Real Kurniawan Auction, How Wine Detectives Find Fakes,

$2300 Wine Stolen, Restaurant Features Wine by Women, Chinese Buy Chateau La Bastide, Chinese Buy South African Winery, Crimean Wineries Celebrate Joining Russia, Wineseum, Treasury is Shopping, Shark Tank Zips a Wine Deal, Cotie Rotie Stolen, Woman Drowns in a Wine Vat, Police Investigating Death of Vineyard Owner, ABC Cites Wineries for Promotion


Beer - Craft Beer Grew in 2014, Historic Virginia Craft Beer, Craft Beer in San Francisco, Delta Pours Craft Beer, Beer Vending Machines, Machine Adds Hops to Beer, SAB/Miller and Coke Joint Venture, Beer Market's Two Decade Decline, Beers Americans Used to Drink


Spirits - Aged Bourbon Scarce, Whiskey Sales Surpass Vodka, Menus to List Calories in a Drink, Signs in Famous Dive Bars, A Secret Bar Under Singapore, Halal Whisky, L.A.'s First Craft Distillery

Other Foods and Beverages - What are your customers eating at home?, Hershey Bars to Use Retro Recipe, The Chicken or the Egg?, Sustainable Seafood, Milk Ads from Coca Cola put on Hold, Beastie Boys Beat Monster, New Food Trends for 2015


The Changing Market - Safeway Albertsons Merger Moves Ahead, Target Tries Liquor Sales, Big Change at Amazon, Sales Shift During Holidays 2014, Target Data Breach Damage Continues, Girl Scouts to Sell Online, Changes in the Labor Market

Health - Health Effects of Beer, Moderate Drinking May Prevent Diabetes, Marks & Spencer Sells Wine Grapes for Skin Care, Why Humans Drink

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


Three be the things I shall never attain:Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.

-Dorothy Parker

Headline News Stories

Pepsi May be Sold

As we went to press, rumors were circulating that Pepsi may be sold to AB/Inbev and 3G Partners. The price: $140 Billion.

Is There Cuban Rum in Our Future?

President Obama has reopened relations with Cuba amid great controversy. It is a major change after 53 years. There is much speculation on what the future will bring. Only Congress can lift the trade embargo. Major League Baseball is rife with talk of Cuban players. But, that is not the only thing going on. The President's order has opened the door to travelers ...and travelers privileges. It's those privileges that interest us. Travelers returning to the U.S. from Cuba will be allowed to bring back $100 worth of Cigars and Rum. That's not a lot. And it must be for personal use, not for resale. Cigars have been smuggled in throughout the embargo. But this is the first Cuban Rum to reach the U.S. in 53 years. There is a lot of history and turf at stake in this. Bacardi left Cuba for Puerto Rico in 1960. At the time, a series of errors by the Castro Government let the Bacardi family destroy the most valuable part of its Cuban business. Rum is made from sugar cane. What makes each Rum unique is the yeast used in fermentation. In 1862 Don Facundo Bacardi founded the company with a yeast that gave Bacardi Rum its special flavor and texture. The family had guarded that yeast for 150 years. When the Cuban government raided the wrong factory in the pre-dawn hours of October 15, 1960; it gave the family 5 hours to destroy all the yeast in their plant at Santiago and time to evacuate to the U.S. If the embargo is lifted, Bacardi may want to return to Cuba and reclaim the assets that were confiscated. In the meantime, Cuban Rum made by the government has been marketed worldwide by Pernod-Ricard under the name Havana Club. Bacardi and Pernod-Ricard have fought legal battles over this Rum. Bacardi retains the marketing rights to Havana Club made in Puerto Rico for the U.S. Current company chairman, Facundo Bacardi, says the company will return to Cuba if the regime improves human rights.

Rare Wines Worth $300,000 Stolen from French Laundry

The French Laundry Restaurant in Napa Valley shut down for a planned 6 month remodel after dinner on December 24. On Christmas Day thieves broke into the wine storage area and took 76 bottles of the best wines. Included were 63 bottles of Domaine Romanee-Conti that retail for up to $15,000 each; 5 bottles of Screaming Eagle valued at up to $7,500 each, and 5 bottles of Dom Perignon.

Dozens of New Laws Went into Effect January 1

Members can log into the legal change page and stay up to date. Is your membership current? You can't afford to be without!

California Plastic Bag Ban on Hold

A petition with 800,000 signatures that would put a referendum on the California bag ban on the November ballot was turned in December 29. If 504,000 are verified the bag law will be on hold until after the November election.


Governments vs. Corporations

In the last quarter of the 20th Century corporations grew into multinationals. A growing feature of the 21st Century is government warfare directed at corporations that they feel are a threat. North Korea struck against Sony Pictures' movie The Interview by hacking Sony's email and making it public. President Obama came down on Sony's side. Sony struck back by releasing the movie on the internet. Now a similar fight is shaping up in the beverage industry. Vladimir Putin has spoken out against Coca Cola and suggested it's a health threat. In his annual press conference, Mr. Putin said “I don't know whether Coca Cola is a harmful drink, but many experts say it is harmful for children. The thing is, we have our own national drinks.” Mr. Putin views Coca Cola as harmful for another reason. Coke represents free enterprise and capitalism in Russia and throughout the world. Russians now drink 7 liters of Coke a year; somewhat less than in other countries. But, it's growing. Coca Cola has signed on as the sponsor for The World Cup soccer tournament to be held in Russia in 2018. We will watch the developments with interest.

Celebrities in the Industry

Actress, Kate Hudson and her fiance Matt Bellamy have been making Hudson Bellamy Wines since 2011. They are promoting their latest release by partnering with Farmville, an online game. In the Farmville 2 Country Escape players get an Avatar. With the Avatar they virtually grow, press, bottle, and sell Hudson Bellamy Wines.




Pro golfers Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley, and Freddie Jacobson have teamed up to brew up a trio of craft beers. The Brew Hub in Florida is co-packing for them in bottles and cans. The beers are G-Macs Celtic Style Pale Ale, Keegan Bradley's New England Style Lager, and Freddie Jacobson's Scandinavian Style Blonde Ale. The beers are 4.5% to 5% ABV.



Barolo and Barbaresco: The King and Queen of Italian Wine by Kerin O'Keefe, University of California Press, 386 pages $39.95. Ms. O'Keefe gives a history, geography, geology, and the issues facing the wines and growers in the Piedmont. The writing is thorough and a good reference work.


Natural Wine by Isabelle Legeron, Cico Books, 208 pages $24.95. Ms Legeron is a Master of Wine in the UK. She takes issue with many modern winemaking processes and contrasts them with age old practices in the vineyards.


An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir by Dierdre Heekin, Chelsea Green, 384 pages $35. Ms. Heekin and her husband, Caleb Barber, lived in Italy and fell in love with wine. When they returned to Vermont, they started a farm and restaurant. The farm's organic vegetables are served at the restaurant. The wine, La Garagista, is their own. They treat the entire experience holistically. The book shares their story.


Shadows in the Vineyard by Maximilian Potter, Twelve, 304 pages $27. The true story of the plot to poison the vines at Domaine Romanee Conti. But so much more, the book looks at owner Aubert de Villaine, Burgundy, and the history of the region.

Popular Culture



CBS Consumer Products has debuted Klingon Blood Wine. Klingons tradtionally drink it warm in celebration of victory. Humans can drink this at room temperature. It's red and 13.5% ABV, not twice as strong as whiskey like the real Klingon Blood Wine.


Warner Bros. Entertainment has introduced a whiskey that is far from ordinary. It's J.R.Ewing Private Reserve Bourbon. Dallas – Love. Honor. Betrayal.


Stirred Not Shaken

Belvedere Vodka will be featured in Spectre, the new James Bond film, 24th in the series which will debut November 6 this year.


Blood of the Vine

Blood of the Vine, a French TV detective series is currently playing on PBS stations. English sub-titles. Enologist, Benjamin Lebel, works his way through the vineyards of France advising estate owners as to the care of their vines and winemaking. Along the way he tastes wine, finds bodies, and helps the police figure out who is the killer. When he gets too deep in trouble, his assistant Mathilde, who is also a wine chemist and soil expert is there to bail him out. When she isn't there, his apprentice Silvere is being taught the ropes. The script skillfully blends wines, wine terms, and clues into delightful 90 minute tales. Now in its third season. Well worth watching. Available on DVD through Amazon. If your TV has a tuner that can receive digital broadcast HD, it airs on Channel 58.4 in Southern California. If you're in Northern CA the series can be loaned from the Sonoma Library.




Historic Corkscrew

A corkscrew that was made from parts of the Old London Bridge drew 40,000 at auction. The corkscrew was engraved “Made from the Iron Shoe that was taken from a pillar That was 656 Years in the Foundation of Old London Bridge made by I Ovenston 72 Titchfield Street, London”. At the auction it was noted that it was in good condition, but did not work and could not open a wine bottle. That didn't deter the bidding. The Old London Bridge was constructed under orders from King Henry II in 1176 and completed in the 12th Century. It was paid for by taxing wool. The bridge was replaced in 1831, yielding the parts for the corkscrew. The auction was run by Reeman Dansie Auctioneers.

Wine Drinker's Personalities

A survey by the London newspaper, The Telegraph, found personality differences between wine drinkers. Red wine drinkers preferred working alone, most likely ate alone, had a degree, and earned more. White wine drinkers earned about 10% less and considered themselves laid back and casual. Rose' drinkers earned about 20% less and considered themselves glamorous and chic.

France Ends Drinking on the Job

France's Employment Ministry has issued new regulations that will allow employers to ban wine drinking in the workplace. A glass (or bottle) of wine with lunch is a French tradition. It has often been sold in workplace canteens and consumed during work or on breaks. The directive says “wine threatens the security and the physical and mental well-being of workers.” Opponents of the change blame the Socialist government of Francois Hollande for this tradition shattering change.

A Real Kurniawan Auction

Rudy Kurniawan's collection of real wine will be auctioned and the proceeds will be used to pay a portion of the $30 million he has been ordered to pay back to his victims. Wine fraud expert, Maureen Downey, will examine the collection this month to separate the real wines from the fake. Kurniawan is currently serving a 10 year sentence for wine counterfeiting.

How Wine Detectives Find Fakes

Wine detectives are in high demand because of the huge number of recent counterfeits. They use a variety of tools to test the wine. Phillipe Hubert, a physicist at the University of Bordeaux, uses a radiation detector to find the gamma ray signature of cesium 137. The atomic particles are radioactive and a product of nuclear fission. They are all over the earth; except in things that existed before 1945. Wine bottled before 1945 is cesium free. Maureen Downey uses a tool kit that includes razor blades, magnifying glasses, jewelers loupes, flashlights, and blue light. She checks the fibers in the label paper, the tiny pits in the glass, the depth of the punt, the corks. The Jefferson bottles were debunked by Lucia Stanton, a historian that has worked at Monticello for over 30 years. Jefferson ordered wine for many prominent Americans including George Washington. He left behind 60,000 documents in which he recorded everything he did. He never bought any 1787 vintage wines. Wines of that vintage were auctioned with the letters “Th J” engraved in the glass. Eventually it was found that the engraving was done with a modern dental tool under the direction of Hardy Rodenstock, a German pop music promoter.

$2300 Wine Stolen

The Granada Restaurant Hotel & Bistro in San Luis Obispo reported the theft of 4 bottles of wine worth $2,300 on December 1. Matthew Nocas, 32, a former employee who was in charge of ordering wine, was caught on CCTV forcing his way into the restaurant during the night. He was identified by the restaurant staff. The police found all 4 bottles unopened in his garage. He is awaiting trial.

Restaurant Features Wine by Women

The Courtesan Chinese Restaurant in the Brixton district of London has developed a wine list that is matched with its Dim Sum and includes only wines made by women. The list includes Yealands Viognier by Tamra Washington, Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Cabernet by Genevieve Janssens, and Concha y Toro Sauvignon Blanc by Cecelia Torres. Dinner reservations can be made online at


Chinese Buy Chateau La Bastide

Chinese investment group, BHC International Wine Assets Management, has acquired Chateau La Bastide in the Corbieres appellation of Languedoc for 6 million. There are reportedly several other Chinese acquisitions of vineyards in the area pending.

Chinese Buy South African Winery

Chinese electronics mogul, William Wu, has bought a 51% interest in South Africa's Swartland Winery near Capetown. The price was not disclosed. Swartland produces 25,000 tons of Merlot and Pinotage a year. Wu said “The market is in China where I have a ready demand for the quality and volume of wine Swartland produces.” This is Wu's second venture in the area. He is already part owner of Veenwouden Winery, also near Capetown.

Crimean Wineries Celebrate Joining Russia

Winemaker members of Crimea's trade association, Legends of Crimea, have asked the Russian Central Bank to issue a 200 Ruble note showing vineyards to commemorate the annexation of Crimea.


The California Wine Museum planned for Santa Rosa, has changed its name to The Wineseum and launched a $5.5 million fund raising campaign to help open the facility.

Treasury is Shopping

Treasury Wine Estates is looking to buy vineyards. CEO Michael Clarke said “We're looking at buying a business that gives us access to luxury and masstige grapes in North America.” The word masstige means prestige grapes with mass appeal. He went on to say they don't need brands or infrastructure, just grapes.

Shark Tank Zips a Wine Deal

Shark Tank investors have put up a record $2.5 million for a 10% stake in Zipz Wine Company. The company produces a single serve plastic wine-by-the-glass that has a protective film that comes off with a zip strip. Investor, Mark Cuban, wasn't convinced and let his colleagues make the deal. Cuban said “I'm not a wine connoisseur, but I would rather drink MD20/20 from a quality perspective over a brand with a zipper.”

Cotie Rotie Stolen

Thieves broke into the cellars of Domaine Garon in the early hours of December 8 in the northern Rhone and stole 1800 bottles of Cotie Rotie 2012. The stolen wine is about 10% of the year's production and is worth an estimated $200,000.

Woman Drowns in a Wine Vat

Wine Specialist, 25 year old Nerea Perez, died when she was overcome by fumes and fell into a wine vat at her uncle's winery. The death was ruled drowning. According to wine industry members in Spain, this type of accident is more common than is known. The fumes coming off a fermenting vat of wine are very strong.

Police Investigating Death of Vineyard Owner

Police are investigating the death of Oregon winemaker, Eric Dunham. His body was found in Cannon Beach, Oregon, about 340 miles from his home in Walla Walla. The cause of death was not released. Dunham was a partner with actor, Kyle MacLachan, in Dunham Cellars. They made Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Red Blends, Chardonnay, and Riesling. MacLachlan is known for playing parts on Sex and the City, Twin Peaks, and Showgirls.

ABC Cites Wineries for Promotion

Last year Savemart sponsored a wine tasting event named the “Savemart Grape Escape.” 40 wineries participated. In the ad promotions some wineries removed the Savemart name. Others left the designation as is. That's an ABC violation. Wineries are not allowed to tell consumers where to buy their products. The ABC investigated and gave 10 wineries a suspension, which was stayed as long as there are no further violations for a year.


Craft Beer Grew in 2014

The Brewers Association reports that Craft Brewer sales grew by 18% in the first half of 2014. Most of the growth was in India Pale Ale, which grew 49%. New craft brewers continued opening through the year at a rate of 1.5 a day, totaling 3200 nationally by the end of November.

Historic Virginia Craft Beer

Tom Sullivan and Kevin O'Leary have a craft brewing company in Virginia that brews historic beer recipes. The recipes come from the Virginia Historical Society. One of their current favorites is a persimmon flavored beer from a 18th century cookbook kept by Virginia's Randolph family. At 3% ABV it's considered a table beer, to be consumed with meals. In colonial times the water wasn't always safe to drink. The average American over 15 annually drank 34 gallons of beer and cider, 5 gallons of spirits, and 1 gallon of wine.

Craft Beer in San Francisco

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed new regulations allowing craft brewers to set up business along the 3rd street corridor in the city's Bayview District. The area had been one of the city's poorest with high unemployment. It is now undergoing gentrification and craft breweries are thriving in surrounding areas. The new businesses are expected to bring jobs to the area.

Delta Pours Craft Beer

Delta Airlines is changing its menu to offer travelers regional food, wine, and beer. Flyers will have beer from craft brewers at their origin or destination including Ballast Point (San Diego), Blue Point (Long Island, NY), Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, NY), Lagunitas (Petaluma, CA), Newburyport Brewing (Newburyport, MA), Samuel Adams (Boston), Stone Brewing (Escondido, CA), and Sweetwater Brewery (Atlanta).

Beer Vending Machines

The Minnesota Twins installed two tap beer vending machines this past season. The fans could buy plastic cards loaded with up to $20 from a cashier. Then go to the machine to buy Bud, Bud Light, Shock Top, or Goose Island at 38cents an ounce; the same price charged at the concession stand. There was an attendant at the machines to check ID and the machine would not serve the same fan more than 48 ounces in a 15 minute period. Price comparison for 2014: The Boston Red Sox led MLB at 60 cents an ounce and the Anaheim Angels were the lowest at 2 cents an ounce.

Machine Adds Hops to Beer

Cambridge Consultants has a new device, called a Hoppier, that adds hops to beer. It can sit on the counter top at a bar. Hops are flowers that add a bitter flavor to beer. Without hops beer would taste sweet. The Hoppier is hooked into the beer dispenser and operates like an espresso machine adding a variable amount of hops. It takes a craft brewer up to two weeks to make his product. Now it can be made instantly and customized for the individual order.

SAB/Miller and Coke Joint Venture

SAB/Miller has formed a joint venture with Coca-Cola for Africa. The combined bottling operations will be headquartered in South Africa. SAB/Miller will own 57%, Coke will own 11%, the remainder will be owned by Gutsche Family Investments, who will manage the operation. It will serve 12 countries with 40% of Coke's volume in Africa and have an annual revenue of $2.6 billion. Coke will pay $260 million to SAB/Miller and get the world rights to Appletizer carbonated apple juice, and get distribution rights for 19 other non-alcoholic brands for Africa and South America.

Beer Market's Two Decade Decline

Goldman Sachs has published a new study by Gallup that may show the reasons for the 9% decline in total beer sales over the past twenty years. The study shows that in 1994 75% of 18 to 29 year olds preferred beer to other alcoholic beverages. Today that figure has dropped to 40%. During the same period the age group's preference for spirits has risen from 13% to 30% and wine has gone from 15% to 25%.

Beers Americans Used to Drink

According to Beer Marketers Insights these beers showed declines in sales from 2008 to 2013:

Miller High Life -21.2%

Miller Lite -22.6%

Budweiser -27.6%

Milwaukee's Best Light -40.6%

Milwaukee's Best -57%

Miller Genuine Draft -58.3%

Budweiser Select -61.1%

During the same period Craft Beers showed an increase of 80.1%. Craft Beer as a category is 7.6% of total beer sales and is divided among more than 3,200 brewers.



Aged Bourbon Scarce

Bourbon collectors are in a panic as supplies of aged whiskey dry up. Sales of bourbon have increased 36% in the last 5 years and exports have risen 56%. Bourbon has to age at least 4 years before being bottled. Bourbon that could have been aged longer just wasn't set aside in 2010. And then even what was saved from the bottle became a little scarcer because of the “angel's share”; evaporation. For instance, Pappy Van Winkle is put down in a 53 gallon barrel. 23 years later the barrel has only 14 gallons left. No wonder it sells for $250 a 750ml.

Whiskey Sales Surpass Vodka

Whiskey sales increased 6% in 2013. The figures are not yet in for 2014, but are expected to be stronger. Whiskey is expected to surpass vodka in U.S. sales for the first time since 2007. The leading brand of vodka, Smirnoff, showed a 7% decline in the last 6 months of 2013 as drinkers tired of flavor infusions.



Menus to List Calories in a Drink

The new menu rules from the FDA will require restaurant menus to list the calorie counts on mixed drinks, wine, and beer. The rules apply to chains with 20 or more locations. The menu changes have to be completed by November. If you don't want to know how many calories are in that martini; sit at the bar. The disclosure rules don't apply there.

Signs in Famous Dive Bars lists some of the “grittiest bars” in the country. Here are a couple of them. A sign in the 5 Points Cafe in Seattle reads “We cheat tourists and drunks since 1929.” 5 Points is noted for its early morning happy hour. The Double Down Saloon in Las Vegas has a sign that reads “Shut Up and Drink.” It bills itself as “a club house for the lunatic fringe” and welcomes “bums, punks, and Bohemians.” It is the birthplace of the bacon martini.

A Secret Bar Under Singapore

The Shinkansen in the Raffles Place business district in Singapore is a sushi restaurant. After dark it changes into The Secret Mermaid, a 25 seat bar. It is reached through a black door in a basement passageway below the Ocean Financial Centre that leads to the MRT, Singapore's subway. The passageway is one of the city's busiest and the secret bar does well serving the business district after work. The Secret Mermaid has both an onsale liquor license and a license to import through customs.


Halal Whisky

ArKay Beverage Company in Florida is introducing an Alcohol Free Whisky that is Halal certified. It provide the taste of whiskey over the rocks or in mixed drinks. The marketing will be to consumers who don't drink for religious or medical reasons or want to drink and not get drunk.

L.A.'s First Craft Distillery

Lilly Mathew and Melkon Khosrovian have opened L.A.'s first craft distillery since Prohibition. Their Greenbar Craft Distillery is experimenting with Egg Nog Spiced Rum, Orange and Lemon infused Vodka, among their 28 specialty liquors. Some are made with organic produce purchased at Hollywood's weekly farmer's market. The distillery is located in downtown L.A. At 2459 East 8th Street. Distillery tours are available by calling first to (213) 375-3668 or contact though

Other Foods and Beverages

What are your customers eating at home?

What are your customers eating at home? You should know if you are going to give them wine pairings. The top 10 searches for recipes on the internet in 2014 were:

  1. Banana Bread

  2. Chicken

  3. Meat Loaf

  4. Chili

  5. Pork Chops

  6. Rice Krispy Treats

  7. Lasagna

  8. Salmon

  9. Zucchini

    10) Guacamole

Hershey Bars to Use Retro Recipe

Hershey is listening to the consumer demand and trying to stay on the right side. Hershey is considering replacing corn syrup in its chocolate products with real sugar. There is no timetable set.

The Chicken or the Egg?

8 billion eggs are laid each month in the U.S. 7 billion are poached, fried, or scrambled. The rest are hatched. Americans each eat an average of 83 pounds of chicken a year.

Sustainable Seafood

Sustainability is becoming an important part of managing our supply of seafood. An analysis of the waste of harvested protein by the USDA showed that 10% to 20% was wasted at the source, 8% at distribution and retail, and 31% at the consumers home. The fact is that U.S. consumers continue to over buy and then dump food of all kinds.

Milk Ads from Coca Cola put on Hold

Coca Cola is introducing a new ultra filtered milk. The ad campaign started ahead of the products release and was canceled almost immediately. The ads featured scantily clad young women wearing only a splash of milk that looked like a dress. Critics said the ads were sexist. The criticism was growing on Twitter and Coke decided this was not the way to launch a new product and pulled the plug.

Beastie Boys Beat Monster

Monster energy drink had used music by the Beastie Boys in an ad campaign without permission. The Boys sued and won a $1.6 million award. Monster appealed the decision, hoping to get the award reduced. U.S. Judge Paul Engelmayer reviewed the decision and found that the ads did falsely give the impression that the group was endorsing Monster. The judge let the decision stand.

New Food Trends for 2015

McCormick predicts new flavor trends for 2015 will include:

  1. New blends: Japanese 7 Spice and Middle Eastern Shawarma, will make their mark.

  2. Sour plus Salt. Consumers will want flavor combos like sour cherries, pickled ginger, dried mango, and lemon zest combined with sea salt.

  3. Smoke. Herbs and spices that are smoked will be used.

  4. Sauces. Fruit & vegetable purees with bold added spices will be added to sauces.

What's driving the change? The Baby Boomer bulge in our population is aging. Aging consumers trend toward heavier flavors as their taste buds dull.


Patrick Salord at flavor company Firmenich says the flavor that will show big growth this year is Honey. Expect to see it in yogurt, cereal bars, ice cream, jerky, Vodka, and Whiskey. Colleague, Sandy Cook, says it will come on as Honey Hot Sauce otherwise known as “Bee Sting Sauce.”


Gluten may be ready to make a comeback. The gluten free sales are $8.8 billion a year because 22% of the population is eating the products. Only 1% actually need the diet. At some point, the rest may move on to the next trend. When that happens, the gluten-free bubble will burst.


Another trend that may end in the near future is eating kale. We won't discuss the virtues of this vegetable or apologize for its flavor, texture, or ability to resist the eater's teeth. We only look forward to the end of the fad.


The Changing Market

Safeway Albertsons Merger Moves Ahead

The merger of Safeway and Albertsons is set to go ahead early this year. The chains will divest 168 stores ahead of the combination. 146 stores in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington will be sold to Bellingham Washington chain, Haggen Stores. Haggen will be supplied by Unified Grocers and SuperValu. 22 stores will be sold to co-ops and chains in other parts of the country.


What is Haggen? The Haggen chain of 18 stores is mostly unknown outside of the Northwest. It was family owned from 1933. In 2011 the investment group, Comvest Partners, bought a majority interest in the chain, looking to expand the format. The company is committed to local sourcing, homemade quality and service, an investing in its communities. Currently it has 18 stores with 16 pharmacies and will expand to 168 stores with 109 pharmacies. It will retain most of the staff of the acquired stores.

Target Tries Liquor Sales

Target has opened a liquor store next to a Super Target in Otsego, Minnesota. The store is 1600 square feet and features wine with some spirits, beer, and accessories. Minnesota requires the store to have a separate entrance. A second store is planned for a Minneapolis suburb. If Target learns how to manage this business, it could expand to compete with other mass retailers and grocers in open states. Here in California, many Target stores already are licensed to sell wine.

Big Change at Amazon

Amazon has introduced a new feature, “Make an Offer”, that could change the entire retail industry – again! If a customer wants to buy, but thinks the price is still too high, he can offer a price where he would buy. The negotiation will be one to one and not appear online. In most of the rest of the world haggling is the way retail business is done. The U.S. is the world's largest market where the retailer sets the price. Will this change that?

Sales Shift During Holidays 2014

Customers spent less on Thanksgiving weekend. Overall spending was down 6.4%. The number of shopping trips declined from 248 million to 233 million. It was unclear whether consumers moved purchases to other times or just didn't buy. 57% shopped online with a smart phone or tablet, but made only 35% of the purchases online.


Cyber Monday Sales were up 15% according to Channel Advisor which analyzed 2700 retailers selling online. Mobile traffic was up 36% and mobile sales up 21% over last year. Desk top PCs were 61% of online traffic and 78% of online sales. Average desk top sale was was $138 versus $119 last year. Smart phones were used to browse, making up 28% of online traffic; but only 10% of sales. We see two changing segments here as consumers get more comfortable with technology and use it as a tool. 1) Shoppers are using mobile devices as an integral part of the whole shopping experience as they search out style and price to make a choice. 2) Shoppers are being more frugal with their time by using mobile to cut down on trekking to stores and making the final purchase from home or office desk.


Walmart experimented with “Grab 'n Go” lockers. The customer could order online. 24 hours later the purchase was available for pickup from a locker, resembling a bus station or airport locker at a store or remote location. The customer entered a 6 digit code on a pin pad and the locker opened revealing the purchase. The entire transaction was completed speedily without human contact.

Target Data Breach Damage Continues

Only a year ago we reported the massive data breach at Target. But now its become common place. The Wall Street Journal reports that more than 100 companies have been penetrated in the last year. The purloined information has varied from customer credit card numbers and identities to getting inside merger talks in order to game the companies stock prices.


But, the damage at Target continues to roll on with two big court decisions. Minnesota Judge, Paul Magnuson, has ruled that Target was negligent by purposely disabling a security feature that could have prevented the breach. The judge's decision will allow third party lawsuits from banks and credit card issuers to proceed against Target and other retailers. Jim Nussle, President of the Credit Union National Association, said Target cost his members $30 million; Home Depot's breach cost his members another $60 million. The association is only a small part of the entire credit card industry. The second court decision came in December when the judge ruled that consumers can sue for damages. The decision allows a class action suit to move forward. Target had argued that consumers couldn't prove damages. Judge Magnuson ruled that some could and the others didn't have to prove their losses.

Girl Scout Thin Mints


Girl Scouts to Sell Online

The Girl Scouts will change their annual cookie sale after more than 100 years. During this year's sale some troops will be on a trial taking orders online. In 2016 the program will be rolled out nationally.

Changes in the Labor Market

Several experts predict that a tightening labor market will empower employees. That means pay raises are in store and employees will be leaving employers that are over demanding or used sleazy hiring practices during the recession. The unions have received a favorable ruling from the NLRB. The ruling forces employers to provide organizers with employee info including home phone numbers and emails. Look for more union activity in this tighter labor market. Profitable companies will also look to shed customers that were too costly during bad times and will concentrate on the good customers that were profitable.


Health Effects of Beer

Moderate beer drinking may be good for your health according to a report from Agence France-Presse.

  1. Beer has high dietary fiber, no cholesterol, and less calories than wine, spirits, or orange juice. The count is about 150 calories per 12 ounce bottle. According to the Center for Human Nutrition, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas beer contains more protein and B vitamins; B3, B6, and B9.

  2. Beer is a rich source of silicon which helps bone growth according to a 2010 study reported in the Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture. A 2012 study by the University of Oregon showed that postmenopausal women benefited from the bone building effects of beer.

  3. Beer could reduce the chance of mental conditions like Alzheimer's. An analysis published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment looked at the results of 143 studies of 365,000 people in 19 countries and found that moderate drinkers were 23% less likely to develop memory and cognitive problems.

  4. Beer can be a factor in reducing heart disease by increasing HDL cholesterol. A 2011 study published in The European Journal of Epidemiology reported that beer drinkers had a 31% reduced risk of heart disease.

  5. Dark beer has a higher content of soluble fiber, anti-oxidants, and iron according to The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

  6. The Hops content of beer has a concentration of humulone and phytochemicals which reduce seasonal diseases like flu and colds, cancer, and diabetes. In particular, it targets Respiratory Syncytial Virus which can lead to pneumonia and bronchitis. However, Sapporo University in Japan points out that it takes a dose of about 30 cans to be truly effective.

Moderate Drinking May Prevent Diabetes

A research team at Boston University School of Medicine Institute on Lifestyle & Health reported that light to moderate drinkers have a 30% lower risk of type 2 Diabetes than non-drinkers. Heavy drinkers seem to have Diabetes risks similar to non-drinkers. Obesity and exercise were also risk factors. However, the study focused on alcohol intake. Light to moderate drinkers were defined as consuming 1 to 3 drinks a day. The study was led by R. Curtis Ellison of Boston U and Helena Conibear of Alcohol in Moderation of Bath, UK.

Marks & Spencer Sells Wine Grapes for Skin Care

UK's Marks & Spencer has found a new use for the leftover grape solids form wine making. The grape pulp is packaged and sold for skin care. The company claims the product harnesses the anti-oxidant capabilities of resveratrol to slow skin aging. It is made from the pulp of Marks & Spencer's private label Pinot Noir; blended with echinacea and peptides “to protect skin from free radicals, while improving skin tone, radiance and boosting hydration for 12 hours, with its defend and restore formula.”

Why Humans Drink

A research team led by biologist Matthew Carrigan of Santa Fe College in Florida has found that humans first developed the ability to digest and enjoy alcohol about 10 million years ago. We do it with an enzyme named ADH4(Class IV alcohol dehydrogenases). The enzyme is common to humans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and some other primates. The team hypothesizes that our ancestors developed this enzyme when they came down from trees and ate fruit that had fallen and fermented. It allowed primates to eat and digest fermented fruit.

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.


The Bordeaux Under One Roof Tasting was an outstanding event held at the W Hotel in Hollywood. There were several good buys on excellent wine that was poured that day.


Chateau Ducasse 2012 was mellow, full bodied, good color and nose. 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc. $16.99 Contact Bruce Eskenazi, Sales Manager at DM Vineyards or (650) 240-0102.


Exem Bordeaux 2011, dark ruby color, good nose, full bodied. 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. $12.99. Contact Henry Wine Group (800) 669-9428.


Chateau Terre Blanque 2012, Dry White, clean, crystal clear, good food wine. Entre de Mers, 80% Sauvignon, 20% Semillon. $12.99. Contact Pierre Truyoo at Truwines or (818) 261-9590.


Lafite Reserve Speciale 2011, Pauillac. Full bodied, soft, good color and nose. Outstanding wine at a bargain price from the famed Rothschilds. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot. $51.99. Contact Maria Brown at Pasternak Wine Imports or (734) 417-4341.


Key Tasting January 21, 2015 – Don't miss this one!

Stars of Santa Barbara* – Beverly Hills - Over 30 top wineries pouring their best. Larner Estate, Kita, Kenneth Volk, Tantara, Brave & Maiden, Zaca Mesa, Thorne, Fess Parker, Alma Rosa, Cebada, Jonata & The Hilt, Foxen, Bonaccorsi, Riverbench, Barbieri, Jaffurs, Consilience Marianello & Tre Anelli, Silver, Imagine, Hilliard Bruce, Summerland, Dolin, small & tall, Buttonwood Farm, Westerly, La Fenetre, Coquelicot, LaFond, Rancho Sisquoc, Tercero, Clos Pepe, Refugio Ranch


Industry Calendar

A listing of Beverage Industry Events, Holidays, and Promotional Opportunities.

1/1 New Years Day

1/11-13 Winter Fancy Food Show – SFO

1/13 Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2010 - LA

1/17-18 Asian American Expo – Pomona

1/17-18 Winter Wineland – Sonoma

1/19 MLK Day

1/21 Stars of Santa Barbara – Beverly Hills

1/22 Benvenuto Brunello – SFO

1/24-26 Great Wines Italy Kobrand - SFO

1/26 Australia Today - SFO

1/27 Italian Slow Wine Tasting-LA

1/28 Zinfandel Advocates - Alameda

1/29 Italian Slow Wine Tasting-SFO

1/31 Super Organic & Natural Expo – LA

1/24-2/1 Super Bowl Week

2/1 Super Bowl Sunday

2/2 Ground Hog Day

2/11 Kosher Food & Wine Experience – Hollywood

2/14 Valentines Day

2/14 SF Wine Chronicle Grand Tasting – SFO

2/16 Presidents Day

2/17 Mardi Gras

2/17-20 Wine Writers Symposium – St Helena

2/18 Ash Wednesday

2/19 Chinese New Year

2/19-21 NAFEM Show – Anaheim (Foodservice Equipment)

2/22 National Margarita Day

2/25-26 Unified Grocers Saleabration– Long Beach

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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