Beverage Bulletin March 2012

California Beverage Retailers Association

P.O. Box 56686

Sherman Oaks, CA 91413

(818) 788-8120

Ron Ziff, Editor


March 2012


Alcohol doesn't solve any problems, but then again, neither does milk.

-John Wayne


This month's stories

Wine Arsonist sentenced to 27 years

Wine Counterfeiter Arrested

Beer Market Share Changes for 2011

Iced Tea Beer

Coke and Pepsi Change Their Recipes

No Kosher for Passover Coca-Cola This Year

13 New Walmarts for SoCal

How to Infuse Spirits with Recipes

Guinness and St. Patrick's Day by the Numbers

Not Your Father's Bloody Mary

Consumer Trend Predictions for 2012 from 5 Major Market Researchers

Celebrities Join the Industry

and as always Tasting Notes and the Industry Calendar


Mark Anderson, was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison for starting a 2005 fire in the Wine Central storage warehouse on Mare Island, west of Vallejo. He was also ordered to pay $70.3 million to victims who lost wines in the fire. The fire destroyed 4.5 million bottles valued at over $250 million. The victims were private collectors and small wineries that stored their entire inventory in the warehouse. The wineries not only lost their products, but were virtually put out of business for two years. Anderson was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Laurence Karlton in Sacramento.


Fine Wine Wine Counterfeiter and Collector Arrested

Rudy Kurniawan was arrested by the FBI in Arcadia on March 8. His charges include fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in loans, attempting to sell counterfeit French Burgundy, 2 counts of mail fraud, and 3 counts of wire fraud. He entered the auction market for fine wines in 2004 and along with other new entrants bid prices up to astronomical levels. He built a collection of over 50,000 bottles of high end Bordeaux and Burgundy. Allegations include that in 2008 he cosigned 84 bottles of counterfeit wine for auction. Among them Domaine Ponsot 1929 which did not begin bottling until 1934; Clos St. Denis 1945 to 1971 although the winery didn't bottle until 1982. In February he offered 78 bottles of Romani Conti 1959 to 1971. These wines carried fictitious serial numbers on labels of a type that were not used until 1978. They would have sold for about $700,000. In his defense he claimed to have bought the bottles from others. The FBI could not locate the supposed sellers. The charges could bring a prison term of up to 20 years.


Beer Market Erosion

Coors Light (8.7% share) has moved into the #2 position in market share in the U.S. Bud Light (19.1% share) is still #1, but Budweiser (8.4% share) has fallen to #3. This is more a story of Bud losing ground than Coors Light gaining. Coors Light only gained 0.8% last year; less than 1% in the last 3 years. Bud lost 4.6% last year and 29% in the last 5 years. In 1988 Bud had sales of 50 million barrels. Since then it has lost 60% of its volume. Worldwide Bud gained 20% in 2011; with China, Brazil, and Russia providing the biggest portion of the growth.


Iced Tea Beer?

Molson/Coors will be introducing Coors Light Iced Tea this coming month. A/B will be pushing its new Michelob 19th Hole Light Tea and Lemonade. The brewers are trying to beat the declining beer market. Boston Beer has led the way its major growth brand, Twisted Tea.


Is it Still “The Real Thing”

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are changing their recipes. The caramel coloring they have been using, 4-methyimidazole has been added to California's list of carcinagens. Both the companies have denied any health risk, but have decided to reduce the amount used in order to avoid putting a cancer warning label on the bottles.


The decision to change the Coke recipe will have a devastating affect on Coke fans of all religions who wait for the Passover Kosher Coke and stock up for the entire year. The reason the fans love it? It's made with a formula closer to the original recipe. Kosher Coke is made with cane sugar. The year round Coke recipe is made with high fructose corn syrup. Not acceptable as kosher and not the choice of purist Coke fans. The problem this year is that the caramel coloring approved by the state is not kosher. According to Coke officials there will be a kosher caramel coloring in time for the 2013 production.


Walmarts to Open in SoCal

Walmart has announced plans for several new small format stores in California. The announcement indicated current plans for 13 stores in California. The stores average 30,000 to 35,000 feet and are centered around a Grocery/Pharmacy format. The Southern California stores include downtown L.A. 1, Orange County 2, Ventura County 1, San Diego 1.


How to Infuse Spirits with Flavors

One of the current fads is infusing spirits with flavors of fruits, spices, and herbs. It is easy to do, whether you are doing it professionally in a bar or restaurant for your patrons or are a retailer passing on the information to customers that want to do it at home. The steps are

  1. Choose a neutral base that is good quality. You can't cover up bad spirits with flavors. Vodka, Light Rum, White Tequila, some Gins do well. Among the dark spirits Brandy will work with heavier flavored fruits like Apricot or Cherry.


  2. Choose your flavoring. You may want fruit flavors or you might use Habanero, Basil, or Dill. To flavor a Bloody Mary. With citrus fruits the flavor comes from the zest or outer layer of the skin. You want to use as skin as thin as you can make because the white or pith imparts a bitterness. Wash and clean the ingredients before you start.


  3. If you are experimenting or want to make several kinds at once, use smaller jars that can be sealed air tight.


  4. Simply put the ingredients in the jars and fill with Vodka. Close the air tight lids. Store in a cool dark place.


  5. A few times a day take the jars out and shake them.


  6. For more intense flavorings it takes only 3 to 5 days. More delicate flavors like lavender or rosemary might take up to 2 weeks. Do a taste test every few days to judge when the flavor is at a peak.


  7. When you feel the infusion has reached its best, filter the liquid through a paper coffee filter. Store in a clean jar the same way that you would store the same spirit without flavoring. If you want to use the same jar, be sure to clean it first to get rid of impurities.


To prepare ingredients:

Berries, leave whole but score the skins

Pineapple or mango, wash and cut in chunks

Citrus fruit, wash and slice the skin thinly to get only the zest

Strawberries, slice thin

Herbs, wash and use whole including stems

Garlic, peel and use whole

Peppers, use whole or cut in half



Guinness and St Patrick's Day by the Numbers

1 President Barack Obama and his ancestral cousin from Moneygall, Ireland each downed 1 pint of Guinness. The owner of the pub in Washington D.C. confirmed that the president finished his pint along with the bar’s other patrons.


161 Guinness was consumed in 161 countries on March 17.


435,456 The number of consumers that logged in on Guinness website and pledged to drink a pint.


3,500,000 The number of pints of Guinness poured in the U.S. on St. Patrick's Day.


13,000,000 The number of pints of Guinness poured worldwide on March 17.
How many did you sell?


Not Your Father's Bloody Mary**


Bartenders across the country are rebuilding their Bloody Mary recipes to come up with signature drinks.

Los Angeles. Playa serves a Via Maria made with seasoned tomato juice, Mezcal, Chipotle Pepper, topped with a celery and tomatillo foam.

Miami. Barceloneta uses Gazpacho, Vodka, and Dry Sherry.

New York. Veselka Bowery mixes Russian Vodka infused with Kielbasa along with a Beef Jerky swizzle stick.

New York. Freeman and Peels serves 3 distinctive takes on the Bloody Mary. The House Specialty recipe is made with tomato juice, Vodka, Balsamic Vinegar, and brine from Capers. The Red Snapper made with Gin instead of Vodka with a radish for a crunchy garnish. The Hairy Mary which combines Harissa Sauce, Ginger, Mezcal, and a carrot stick.


**It was the mid-1950's. I was there when Herb Taylor, the legendary “Mr. T” sold his first bottle of Mr and Mrs T Bloody Mary Mix in a grocery store. Herb and June Taylor were veterans of Southern California's movie industry. They lived in a comfortable home in Pacific Palisades where they entertained fellow filmmakers. June made an hors d'oeuvre dip that friends raved about and convinced the couple to package and sell. The dip was called “Mr & Mrs T Dunk.” Their company was Taylor Food Hobbies. We sold the dip in our family grocery store in Westwood. As an afterthought, Herb bottled a Bloody Mary Mix that he sold to a local liquor store. Customers who bought the dip from us asked for the mix and my father asked Herb to leave us a few bottles to sell. Herb was convinced that no one would buy a liquor mix in a grocery store. But, after some persuasion by my father Herb agreed to leave us a case of bottles. It sold out quickly and he was soon delivering a couple of cases a week out of the back of his car. Incidentally, the dip didn't make it as a consumer product!

Consumer Trends

Illinois manufacturer Bell Flavors and Fragrances listed the top flavor trends for the coming year. The cuisines leading the way in 2012 will be Korean, Cajun, and Greek. Sweet flavors include Salty Caramel, Red Velvet, Strawberry Jasmine, Cinnamon Chipotle, Eucalyptus, Taro/Sweet Potato, Roasted Coconut, Cafe de Olla, and Lucuma*. Savory flavors to look for are White Truffle, Kimchi, Absinthe, Calamansi* Lime, Umami, Rose Water, Cayenne Pepper, Satsuma Orange, Mirin, and Romesco*. They look for beverage flavors that will grow to include Lemonade, Maqui Berry, Aloe Vera, White Tea, Mamey*, Cucumber Mint, Chrysanthemum, Kumquat, Honey Ginger, and Green Coconut.


*For the uninitiated:

Lucuma is a new “superfood.” It is a sweet fruit that looks like an avocado on the outside. Comes from South America.

Calamansi is a small citrus fuit native to southeast Asia.

Romesco is a sauce made from nuts, roasted garlic, and olive oil.

Mamey is a Sapote or Custard Apple that originates in Mexico.



The researchers at Leatherhead Food Research have identified their own key market trends in the food industry. Some of their highlights include:

  1. Health claims: An aging population trying to stay young will be targeted by companies making health claims. Among them the health of joints, brain, and heart.

  2. Free from” foods: Consumers will be looking for foods free from gluten, nuts or dairy. This isn’t caused by food allergies, but changes in people’s dietary preferences.

  3. Less junk: Manufacturers will be striving to reduce their salt, fat and sugar to meet new guidelines and tastes worldwide.

  4. Sustainability: Look for “cleaner” packaging, more ethically-sourced ingredients and lessening the carbon footprint of food manufacturing and transport.

  5. No time: People want to be healthy, but they still don’t want to cook. Look for ready-to-go meals and “meal kits”.

Innova Market Insights market research firm picked these as its top trends:

  1. Natural products have become the rule rather than the exception in most Western countries, even though nobody knows what “natural” means. Now companies are using the word “Pure.” Since 2008, the number of products labeled pure has quadrupled.


  2. Corporate social responsibility, sustainability, reducing carbon emissions, and Fair Trade have become buzz words. Previously untapped waste materials are finding new uses and functions.


  3. Place of Origin. Consumers are suddenly interested in where their foods are coming from. They want to support local suppliers, want authentic ethnic foods, and are concerned with the safety of imports.


Mid month Food Business News released a study with ominous results. 14 of the top 20 packaged food categories declined 3% or more in the previous 52 weeks at food, drug, and mass market retailers. This includes categories like bread, soup, canned fruit, shortening, and others. Also released was a study by Neilsen that indicated perishable foods were increasing their share of consumer purchases. What does it all mean? The indications are that consumers are replacing packaged foods with fresh commodities and that they are shifting some purchases to the fringes of the market; to dollar stores, club stores; farmers markets, and other non-traditional sellers.

Celebrities Join the Industry


Antonio Banderas introduced his wines from Anta Bodegas vineyard in Ribero de Duero at The SoBe Wine & Food Fest. He held a seminar, and showed off his Anta Banderas wines. There are six reds and one white.


George Clooney and Rande Gerber will be introducing a tequila they has been drinking for years. It will be labeled and named Casamigos, the name of Clooney's home in Mexico.

Drew Barrymore is planning sales of a Pinot Grigio from Italy named “Barrymore.”

Tasting Notes

During March we participated in a number of exciting tastings. The wines were quite varied. As always, our challenge is to find “good buys”; wines that offer exceptional quality and value that can be sold at reasonable levels and make customers very happy. The wines we found were exactly what we were looking for.


At the Family Winemakers tasting our pick was Brutocao. This winery offered a suite of reasonably priced wines from Mendocino. Sauvignon Blanc 2010, clean, light, and full flavor of the grapes; $12.99. Chardonnay 2010 from Bliss Vineyard, clean from stainless fermentation, fruit forward, a good food wine to pair with fish or chicken; $14.99. Two reds that are good food wines. Zinfandel 2008 from Hopland Ranch, deep berry flavor, good nose, deep ruby color, mellow; $19.99. Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, 100% cabernet, full flavor and character of the grape, good nose, has legs, can be enjoyed with food or in front of a fire; $19.99. Contact National Sales Manager, Jeff Miller or (415) 806-4948.


Fiftyrow Vineyards owner Paul Johnson was pouring the best value Chardonnay. This wine hails from St. Helena in the Napa Valley. The 2010 vintage is a delightful, clean finish, full flavored, 100% Napa Chardonnay. At $15 retail it was one of the best values seen at the tasting. Contact or call (797) 307-3712.


The Mt Brave 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Mt Veeder Appellation was our pick for best wine at the tasting. This 100% cabernet wine is full bodied, dry, has good nose and color. It shows like only the finest wines do. 4 years old and ready to drink now, it would serve well with an elegant meal or stand on its own; $75 retail. Contact Brendan Scholl at or (822) 222-0292.



The Natural Foods Expo West set aside a separate room for wine tasting for the first time. This was a welcome relief. The Expo is an overwhelming experience with over 1,000 booths and 65,000 people making the aisles sometimes impassable. This tasting was across the road at the Anaheim Marriott. Most of the wines were organic.


Girasole Vineyards Mendocino Chardonnay 2009 was refreshing with a clean finish, stainless fermentation with oak chips, organic grapes; $13.00. (707) 485-0322. Available from Mountain Peoples Wine and Beer Distribution (866) 850-WINE.


Frey Vineyards poured Pacific Redwood Mendocino Chardonnay 2011, organic with no sulphites added, barrel aged, very light oak flavor, straw color, clean finish; $12.99. Mendocino Syrah 2009, organic, good nose, deep syrah color, a good food wine, ready to drink; $11.99. Contact Katrina Frey or (707) 485-5177. Available from Mountain Peoples Wine and Beer Distribution (866) 850-WINE.


E&J Gallo offered Naked Grape Wines. Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Moscato, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon all line priced at $4.99-$5.99. These were all sound wines, ready to drink, true to type, and well labeled. While not organic, these wines are made with sustainable production. They are designed for the mass market, but a well put together line. Contact Laurie Marsh or (602) 236-3947.


At the Angeles Wine Agency tasting we noted a couple of good picks. The Sunstone Merlot 2009 from Santa Barbara surprised us. Most merlots these days are rather bland. This wine has lots of character. The 100% merlot had a full body, deep merlot berry flavors, yet was soft and supple. Will pair well with food or to drink alone; $19.99 retail. Chateau Poulvere Bergerac Rouge 2010 is a good food wine. With 35% merlot and 65% cabernet sauvignon has a medium body, good color and nose, a very pleasant Bordeaux for the price; $12.99 retail. Angeles Wine Agency (818) 778-0001.


The Stars of Napa and Baja tasting held in Beverly Hills had an excellent suite of Napa Valley wines from Waterstone. A dry and flavorful Pinot Gris 2010 at $16 retail. A Carneros Pinot Noir 2008 at $17-20. And a Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (87% Cab Sauv, 12% Merlot, 1% Cab Franc) at about $25. All excellent wines that serve well with food. Contact Stacy Manley or (707) 696-8725.


Industry Calendar

4/2 Provence in the City-LA

4/2 Sta Rita Winegrowers - SFO

4/3 Sta Lucia Winegrowers – Mission Ranch, Carmel

4/4 Provence in the City - SFO

4/6 Passover first night

4/8 Easter Sunday

4/11 Jordan Winery-4 on 4 tasting & Art Competition-LA

4/14 Passover ends at sundown

4/17 FPFC- Northern Cal Expo - Pleasanton

4/20-23 Sta Barbara County Festival

4/24 Burgundy Terroir & Signature tasting -SFO

4/24 Sonoma in the City- LA

5/5 Cinco de Mayo

5/10 Mexican Mother's Day

5/13 Mother's Day

New Legislation for 2012

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. 2012 has several new laws that you must follow. New alcoholic beverage laws are being introduced that will be effective in 2013. Many critical issues are pending. 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 Association of Licensees. We're #1!


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