Beverage Bulletin March 2016

California Beverage Retailers Association

Beverage Bulletin

P.O. Box 56686

Sherman Oaks, CA 91413

(818) 693-5561

Ron Ziff, Editor

Ben Ziff, Publisher

March 2016

This Month's Stories Include:

Headline News Stories - Senate Bill Threatens Liquor Marketing, Chalone Vineyards Sold, Chinese Billionaire Leads Buying Spree, It's 5 O'clock in Space, Kroger and SWS Marketing Deal May Be Off, Drought Update


Celebrities in the Industry - Rapper Drake, Yao Ming, Dick Vermeil, Rick Mirer, Terry Hoage


Books - The Billionaire's Vinegar, The Widow Clicquot, Wine and War


Popular Culture - Sideways on Stage


Politics - Justice Antonin Scalia, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Nixon, Eisenhower, John Adams, Grover Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt


Wine - Peter Mondavi Dies, Mondavi Purple Heart Wine, 1891 Sherry, Virginia Dare Wine, Prosecco From Down Under, Climate Change Good for UK Wineries,

Grower Champagnes, Champagne for Oscar, Moet Counterfeits, Champagne Fraudster Sentenced, World's Biggest Wine Barrel, Fraudulent French Rose', Burgundy Wine Shortage Looms, Wine Sales Increase, Communion Wine Innovation, California Wines Shipped to UK, French Protest Pesticide Use, Millenials Dominate Wine Market, Protecting Vineyards


Beer - Dispute Behind the Suds, Hops Shortage Looms, AB/Inbev Miller Merger Sued, Asahi Buying Peroni and Grolsch, Boston Beer Sales Down, Walmart and Craft Beer, Burger King Denied Beer Licenses, McDonald's Serves Beer in Foreign Markets, Beer in Ancient Spain, Get Paid to Drink Beer, Beer Bath, Beer Spa, Beer Fountain


Hard Cider and Soda - Seagram's Hard Soda, AB/Inbev and Boston Beer's Soda, Cider Certification


Spirits - Havana Club Dispute, California Whiskey Clubs, New Spirits Categories, Grammy Vodka, Russian Vodka Exports Plummet, What Do You Drink With Girl Scout Cookies?, New World Record for Gin Tasting


Other Foods and Beverages - Nestle Water Under Scrutiny, Aldi Arrives, Hardest Restaurant Reservations, Pepsi Campaign


The Changing Market - Kosher Wine Reaches Mainstream


Recipes - Bernie Paloma, Beef & Beer Chili


Health - What's New? Sirtfood!, Red Wine Health Studies, 107 Year Old Wine Drinkers

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



When quarterback, Peyton Manning, was interviewed after winning the Super Bowl, he said he was going to “go home and drink a lot of Budweiser.


The comment immediately sparked controversy. Ad professionals estimate the plug was worth about $13.9 million. Budweiser's head of marketing, Lisa Weser, said he was not paid to promote Bud. Maybe not paid, but Beer Business Daily pointed out that he is co-owner of a Budweiser distributorship in Louisiana. The Brewers Association sent him a mixed case of Craft Beers from several states along with an invitation to visit a local Craft Brewer. Colorado's Left Hand Brewing offered a 2 day promotion giving a free pint of beer to every customer that brought in an empty can or bottle of Bud.

Headline News Stories

Senate Bill Threatens Liquor Marketing

SB 1032 would prevent the use of coupons, scandowns, and other marketing methods in the sale of wine and spirits. It was introduced in the State Senate on February 12. Currently it is in the Senate Government Affairs Committee. The committee can vote on it any time after March 17. Retailers and producers are urged to contact their State Senator to vote against the bill. It would severely hamper product sales and promotions.

Chalone Vineyards Sold

Diageo has sold Chalone Vineyards to Foley Family Wines. The sale includes the Chalone and Gavilan brands, 1000 acres with 240 acres planted in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Diageo bought Chalone in 2004 for $260 million. Sales peaked at 200,000 cases. In 2014 sales were down to 166,000 cases and 80,000 in 2015. It is the oldest producing vineyard in Monterey County. With this sale Diageo has completely divested its U.S. wine assets.

Chinese Billionaire Leads Buying Spree

Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, has purchased Chateau de Sours, a 198 acre property in Entre-du-Mers for $16 million. Ma is the founder of Alibaba, a Chinese company that operates in China much like Amazon does in the U.S. Ma is one of a group of Chinese billionaires that visited France in 2015 to lay the groundwork for a chateau buying spree. They are looking to buy at least 20 and as many as 30 chateaux plus a negociant and shipping company.

It's 5 O'clock in Space

The spacesuits used by Russians on the International Space Station have hidden pockets for astronauts to have a shot of Vodka at the end of a hard day's work. According to BBC Science Editor, Dallas Campbell, “thoughtful Russian engineers” have made pouches of Vodka that fit into the pockets. Russian Cosmonauts have a history of being provided with Vodka or Cognac on the Mir Space Station.

Kroger and SWS Marketing Deal May Be Off

Kroger and Southern Wine and Spirits(SWS) agreed to have SWS manage Kroger's shelf displays of alcoholic beverages. The announcement was immediately challenged by the Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB) when it ruled “The act by an industry member of providing a retailer with a recommended shelf plan or shelf schematic for distilled spirits, wine, or malt beverages … is not an inducement within the meaning of the FAA Act’s “Tied-house” prohibition. But, additional services or items of value … may constitute a prohibited inducement, and depending on the circumstances, may be deemed to place retailer independence at risk … Some industry members are providing schematics as well as additional services that far exceed allowed practices. Such prohibited “additional services” would include: assuming a retailer’s purchasing or pricing decisions, or shelf-stocking decisions involving a competitor’s products; receiving or analyzing on behalf of a retailer confidential or proprietary competitor information; furnishing to the retailer items of value including market data from third-party vendors; providing follow-up services to monitor and revise the schematic when it involves communicating with other parties on the retailer's behalf concerning daily operational matters; and furnishing a retailer with human resources to perform merchandising or other functions with the exception of stocking, rotation or pricing of the industry member’s own product.” No comment was made by Kroger, SWS or the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America. The National Beer Wholesalers Association stated, “The TTB’s directive makes clear that certain aspects of proposed programs at retail exceed the intent of the exceptions allowed for by federal law. Beer distributors should not participate in any unauthorized activity that could jeopardize their federal wholesaler permits.”

Drought Update

California's reservoirs are only 49% full after a series of storms. As of February 1 the Sierra snowpack was at 130% of normal. Forecasts indicate the current El Nino pattern may be ending and the rain may end with it.


The State Water Resources Board has issued a new list of reporting requirements for users including senior rights holders. Water diverted now has to be measured and reported annually instead of every 3 years. The rules apply to about 12,000 senior rights holders that have never had to answer for what they use.


More than 100 homes in East Porterville entered their second year in the driest part of the state. Most wells went dry over a year ago. Residents have been surviving on water brought in tankers. There are no showers and little flushing. After a small storm, authorities warned residents not to use the brownish water available from wells. It was contaminated with nitrates and other chemicals in concentrated form.

Celebrities in the Industry

Rapper Drake has announced on Instagram that he is launching his own Bourbon. It will be “Virginia Black Whiskey.” The Canadian rap singer will join other rappers that have their own brands including Snoop Dogg, P Diddy, Jay-Z, and Ludacris.


Former NBA basketball star, Yao Ming, has been shipping his Napa Cabernet Sauvignon to China since 2011. According to tour guides, the number one question from Chinese tourists is “Where is Yao Ming's Vineyard?” Now he has opened a tasting room at the vineyard. Plans are underway to open a second tasting room in Shanghai.


Following the Superbowl three former NFL personalities boarded the Napa Valley Wine Train to pour their wines for a special Big Game Train. Dick Vermeil (previously profiled here) poured his Calistoga Wines. Rick Mirer, former quarterback for the 49ers and the Raiders has made wines under the Mirror Wine label in Napa Valley since 2008. Varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. Terry Hoage played for the Georgia Bulldogs and the 49ers. He poured his TH Estate Wines which are made from Rhone varieties grown in Paso Robles.


The Billionaire's Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace, 323 pages, Crown and Broadway Paperbacks. Recently someone sent me a copy of this 1994 book. Although a few years old, it is even more relevant today. This factual book follows one of most expensive bottles ever sold; a Lafite 1787 auctioned for $168,000 that may have once been owned by our 3rd President. Was the bottle of wine real and was the provenance authentic? We all know the answers. But, how we got to the real truth drives this book. The story is well told and fascinating. What is just as interesting is the list of institutions and cast of characters. A compendium of influence, who's who, and the rich and famous (and infamous) in the world of wine. Included are Christie's Auctions, Monticello, Newsweek Magazine, Michael Broadbent, Hardy Rodenstock, Malcolm Forbes, the Rothschilds, Ernest Gallo, Marvin Shanken, Steven Spurrier, and others. Even Thomas J, himself … or was it a different Thomas J? Eventually, this invaluable bottle was displayed under hot lights in Forbes Museum; cooked by the lights that popped the cork. But, that's was only the start of trouble. My copy is not available for loan, but, you can get your own for under $10 from Amazon.


The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It, by Tilar J. Mazzeo, Harper Business, 304 pages, $15.99. The New York Times bestselling business biography of the visionary young widow who built a champagne empire, became a legend in her tumultuous times, and showed the world how to live with style. Tilar J. Mazzeo brings to life the woman behind the label, Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, in this utterly intoxicating book that is as much a fascinating journey through the process of making this temperamental wine as a biography of a uniquely tempered and fascinating woman.

Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure, by Donald and Petie Kladstrup, Broadway Books, 304 pages, $15. In 1940, France fell to the Nazis and almost immediately the German army began a campaign of pillaging one of the assets the French hold most dear: their wine. Like others in the French Resistance, winemakers mobilized to oppose their occupiers, but the tale of their extraordinary efforts has remained largely unknown–until now. This is the thrilling and harrowing story of the French wine producers who undertook ingenious, daring measures to save their cherished crops and bottles as the Germans closed in on them. Wine and War illuminates a compelling, little-known chapter of history, and stands as a tribute to extraordinary individuals who waged a battle that, in a very real way, saved the spirit of France.

Popular Culture

Sideways on Stage

A movie made into a play opens in London's St. James Theater for a 6 week run in May. Sideways follows the adventures of Miles and Jack through the Santa Ynez Valley. Theatergoers will be able to drink Pinot Noir as they watch the two compare wines on stage.


The sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia has left the Supreme Court in a hobbled condition and the country in somewhat of a political crisis. But, how did Justice Scalia's presence affect the wine industry? It was 2005 and the court decided Granholm v. Heald, a case involving interstate wine shipments. David Lucas was owner of Lucas Winery in Lodi and Mark Chandler, now Mayor of Lodi, was head of the Lodi Winegrape Commission. There were two cases combined for the court. The other case was Swedenburg v. Kelly which included Lucas Winery as a plaintiff. The State of New York had allowed in-state wineries to ship directly to consumers, but required out of state wineries to go through licensed wholesalers and retailers. The Second Circuit Court ruled in New York's favor. The same case came up in Michigan where the wineries won in the Sixth Circuit Court. The cases proceeded to the Supreme Court to make a final national decision. When the cases were argued before the court, the Justices asked questions and argued among themselves as to the rights of the parties. At stake were the meaning of the Constitution's Commerce Clause and the 21st Amendment. Justice Scalia's inquiry framed the issue. Lucas said about Scalia, “He was impressive.” Justices Kennedy, Souter, Ginsberg, and Breyer voted with Scalia in favor of the wineries. At the time one of the lawyers told Lucas that he had never seen the Justices have so much fun with a case. Chandler notes “That decision has opened up wine markets for wineries to send wines to consumers in 43 states.” Editors Note: Winery to consumer shipments were just under $2 billion dollars in 2015. Total shipments were 4,286,743 cases. The vast majority originate in California.


Brewdog Brewery in Scotland has offered Donald Trump a share of its business if he will give up trying to become the leader of the free world. James Watt, co-founder of the brewery, wrote an open letter to Trump offering equity shares. Unfortunately, the shares offered are only worth $144. Hardly enough to warrant buying an airplane ticket to visit the craft brewer.


Bernie Sanders spoke at an intimate apartment party in Washington D.C. That was broadcast to 3500 similar parties nationwide for 100,000 people. After the cameras were turned off, Miguel Herrera from the capital's hip Barmini, served a drink he calls Bernie Paloma. You can mix one at home. See the recipe section below.


The Yard Brewing Company in Philadelphia is making “Ales of the Revolution”, a series of craft beers based on brewing recipes that were supposed to be used by our founding fathers. The brews are bottled with three labels: Thomas Jefferson Tavern Ale, George Washington Tavern Porter, and Benjamin Franklin Tavern Spruce.


Looking and Drinking Presidential

There are several facts about our presidents' drinking habits. Nixon served California wine at state dinners, but the waiters secretly poured Chateau Margaux in his glass. Eisenhower was stationed at Fort Meade from 1919 to 1925 which was during Prohibition. He was part of a group of soldiers that made bathtub gin there. John Adams started every day with a tankard of Hard Cider. Grover Cleveland vowed to drink only 4 glasses of beer a day during an election. His campaign promise didn't last long because he found it too limiting. Teddy Roosevelt was a teetotaler. He once sued a reporter for a story that depicted him as often drunk. He testified in court that he “never drank a cocktail or highball in my life.” He won the case.



Peter Mondavi Dies

Peter Mondavi has died at the age of 101. He led his family's Charles Krug Winery for more than 50 years. The family purchased the winery in 1943. It was originally founded by Prussian immigrant Charles Krug in 1861 and is the oldest operating winery in Napa Valley. Peter and his brother Robert managed the business for 22 years until a dispute over winemaking led Robert to leave in 1965. Peter favored fruitier wines made with cold fermentation. Robert wanted wines aged in European oak barrels. Peter turned the management of the winery over to his two sons, Marc and Peter Jr. Robert died in 2008.

Mondavi Purple Heart Wine

The C. Mondavi Family is releasing Purple Heart Red Wine Blend 2013 this month to honor our nation's heroes. Peter Mondavi Sr. was a veteran of World War II and the winemaker, Ray Coursen, is a veteran of Viet Nam. The wine is priced at $19.99 and a generous portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Purple Heart Foundation. The foundation will use the funds for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, as well as job training, education assistance, service dogs and burial assistance.

1891 Sherry

The Barbadillo family has released 100 bottles of Sherry that came from a cask of 1891 Sherry owned by Manuel Barbadillo. It is said to be “concentrated, full, rich, and nutty.” The wine is packaged in a hand blown Portuguese crystal decanter in a leather presentation box. It will sell for about $12,000 a bottle.

Virginia Dare Wine

Francis Ford Coppola's Virginia Dare Winery is releasing wines honoring the Roanoke Colony founded in Virginia by Sir Walter Raleigh. The colony disappeared in 1587 and mystery still surrounds its fate. The wines all honor parts of the myths about the lost colony. The wines, White Doe 2013 White Wine Blend, Manteo 2012 Sonoma County Red Wine, Two Arrowheads White Wine, and Lost Colony 2013 Sonoma County Red. All are priced under $20.

Prosecco From Down Under

Vineyards in Australia are producing a Prosecco from Glera grapes; the same variety used in Veneto, Italy. This year New Zealand released vines of the same variety that were imported from Australia after a 4 year quarantine. The plan is to start making New Zealand Prosecco in 2019.

Climate Change Good for UK Wineries

Climate Change is driving major changes in a warmer UK. Sparkling wine maker, Hambledon is increasing production from 120,000 to 200,000 bottles a year. Bolney Wines is making an investment of 1 million to increase production from 110,000 to 400,000 bottles a year. Chapel Down Winery in Kent has released the first of its Albariño 2014. This variety was previously only grown in Spain and Portugal. It will retail for 15 a bottle.

Grower Champagnes

Grower Champagne has a lot of character not found in the mass market brands. In 2014 about I million bottles were shipped to the U.S. That's about 5% of the total. Some of the labels becoming familiar are Eric Rodez, Piere Gimonnet, Raphael Bereche, Cedric Bouchard, and many others. Most sell in the $40 to $50 range. Don't expect to find them easily. There just isn't enough to distribute nationally in the U.S. In order to tell them apart there is a code on the labels that has to be learned. The most common label codes are NM (Negociant-manipulants or merchant producers); RM (Recoltant-manipulants or grower producers); CM (Cooperative-manipulants or co-ops).


Grower Champagnes have become the hottest consumer trend in Hong Kong. Here are the top labels sold there:

Champagne Agrapart, founded at the end of the 19th century by Arthur Agrapart is now managed biodynamically by his great-grandsons Pascal and Fabrice. It is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.


Champagne AR Lenoble was founded in 1920 by Armand-Raphael Graser. Its Blanc de Blancs is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. His great-grandchildren Anne and Antoine Malassagne currently run the winery.


Champagne Philipponnat was started in 1910 by brothers Auguste and Pierre Philipponnat. It produces 70,000 bottles a year of sparkling that is 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay. It spends 9 years on its lees before release.


Champagne Olivier, was founded in 1998 by Bruno and Chistiane Olivier. From their tiny 3 hectare estate they produce Olivier NV Brut, Olivier Reserve Brut, and Olivier Cuvee Lyse.


Champagne Franck Pascal Reliance, Brut Nature, NV is made on Pascal's 4 hectare estate from 70% Pinot Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir, and 10% Chardonnay.


Champagne Henri Giraud, Code Noir, NV is made by Henri Giraud and fashion designer, Didier Ludot from 100% Pinot Noir. They are purists and want Champagne to be made as it was in the 19th century.


Champagne J.L. Vergnon, Grand Cru Expression Extra Brut is made from Chardonnay by Christophe Constant. It sells for $480 a bottle.


Champagne Jacques Selosse Rose' NV, is made by second generation, Anselme Selosse from 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir with a low dosage and aged in Burgundy Barrels.


Champagne de Sousa, Cuvee' 3A NV is made by Michelle and Erick de Sousa from 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay. The vineyard has been organic since 1910 and biodynamic since 2010.


Champagne Vilmart & Cie, Grand Cellier, Premier Cru, NV was founded in 1872 by Desire Vilmart in northern part of Champagne. It's made from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. It spends 10 months in oak and 3 1/2 years on the lees.

Champagne for Oscar

Piper Heidsieck was the official Champagne for the 88th Academy Awards Oscar Ceremony and Governor's Ball. 1,000 magnums of Cuvee Brut Limited Edition were bottled for the occasion. Each bottle was hand wrapped and labeled with a gold tiara carrying the logo “Oscars 88.”

Moet Counterfeits

Italian police seized 9,000 bottles of fake Moet & Chandon found in a shed near Padua. In the same shed there were another 40,000 counterfeit labels and 8 people with criminal records working. The bottles raised suspicions because they didn't have serial numbers. Police are still looking for the organizers of the scheme.

Champagne Fraudster Sentenced

25 year old Alex Hope, the “Champagne Fraudster”, received a 7 year sentence for bilking UK investors out of 5.5 million in a currency trading scheme. He got the nickname for his extravagant lifestyle. In one night he spent ₤204,000 on Champagne and drinks at a night club. The government confiscated ₤267,000 from Hope and a manager. He was also ordered to pay back ₤2.7 million or spend an additional 20 months in prison. The government expects to return 55% of the invested money.


World's Biggest Wine Barrel

The world's biggest wine barrel has been built for Gerard Bru in Languedoc it weighs 40 tons and could hold 300,000 liters of wine. It will not be filled with wine, but will house a wine store.

Fraudulent French Rose'

A French court fined Vinovalie, a wine co-operative with 470 winery members for making fraudulent rose'. The wine was made between 2009 and 2012 by mixing red and white wines. French law requires rose' to be made by exposing the grape juice to the skins.

Burgundy Wine Shortage Looms

Burgundy harvests were small in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Looking ahead, supplies may become even tighter. Vine diseases affect 14% of the vineyards and will eventually kill the vines. Secondly, the average age of a Burgundy vineyard is more than 50 years resulting in lower yields. The farmers are replacing only dead vines instead of whole vineyards. The reason farmers are reluctant to replace whole vineyards is lower cash flows for 4 or 5 years. Climate change is also a factor, and some varieties are not suited to hotter summers. The Burgundy Wine Council (BIVB) is working to help growers through the next several difficult years. According to BIVB's Corinne Trarieux growers will have to be proactive in planning for the future.

Wine Sales Increase

French wine and liquor sales increased by 8.7% from 2014 to 2015. Sales totaled more than $11 billion. Most of the increase was in three categories. Champagne sales increased 87%, Cognac increased 20%, sales to China increased 23%.


U.S. wine exports were $1.61 billion in 2015. Up 4.1% in volume and 7.6% in value. 90% of the shipments were from California.

Communion Wine Innovation

Communion wine is now being packaged in individual serving packets along with a wafer. Some Catholics welcome the product because it is more sanitary than the traditional wine and wafer given to worshipers. Others feel it degrades the centuries old practice.

California Wines Shipped to UK

Armit Distributors in the UK has started importing California wines made by Hanzell, Hobo Wine Co., Bien Nacido, Solomon Hills Estates, and Stony Hill. The company already sells Diamond Creek and Freemark Abbey.

French Protest Pesticide Use

A crowd of 600 activists marched on the streets of Bordeaux after a TV documentary revealed that an epidemic of serious children's diseases may have been caused by overuse of pesticides in the region's vineyards.


Millenials Dominate Wine Market

Figures released by the Wine Marketing Council showed that millenials, (age 21 to 38) made up 36% of the wine drinkers in 2015 and drank 42% of wine sold in the U.S.; Baby Boomers (51 to 69) slipped to second place with 34% of the drinkers; and Generation X (39 to 50) made up only 18% of wine drinkers.

Protecting Vineyards

Caliterra Vineyards in Chile has reduced damage to the vines by pests by 30%. Since 2012 it has encouraged birds of prey to protect the vineyards. By installing 15 nesting boxes and 10 feeding stations it has attracted eagles, hawks, vultures, kestrels, and owls. The birds prey on rabbits and other rodents and keep them out of the vineyards.


Dispute Behind the Suds

Jonathan Goldsmith, “the most interesting man in the world”, and star of Dos Equis commercials, is involved in a series of lawsuits with his agent. The agency, Gold Levin, now calls him “the Least Honorable Man in the Entertainment Business.” The agency says he failed to pay commission on his beer commercials. Goldsmith claims the agency revealed confidential terms of his contract to the beer company. The agency was to receive commissions since 2002. Goldsmith stopped paying in November 2014. He is being sued for 10% of $2 million in earnings in 2015 and 2016. He says the agency was not involved in the deal and later revealed the secret contract terms to Dos Equis.

Hops Shortage Looms

Yakima Valley, Washington grows 75% of the hops used in our country's beer. Last year's crop was 78.8 million pounds. If climate changes continues, the hops crop will be drastically affected. The Yakima Valley is a unique growing region and one of the most productive in the U.S. The valley is nearly a desert, but enjoys winter rains followed by year round runoff from the melting snowpack in the Cascade Mountains. In 2015 Washington faced a severe drought and the snowpack was virtually non-existent. Farmers made up the difference by pumping ground water. But that is not sustainable. If the drought continues hops growing may not be able to continue.

AB/Inbev Miller Merger Sued

A group of beer drinking consumers has filed a class action suit in Federal District Court in Medford Oregon to stop the AB/Inbev takeover of Miller on anti-trust grounds. John Blood, Vice President of Corporate and Legal Affairs for AB/Inbev says the company will “vigorously defend” the merger.

Asahi Buying Peroni and Grolsch

Asahi is currently negotiating with AB/Inbev to buy the Peroni and Grolsch brands. The offer is reported to be $2.9 billion.

Boston Beer Sales Down

Boston Beer Company's Sam Adams sales fell for the first time in the 4th quarter of 2015. Volume was down 3% to 958,000 barrels. Due to a price increase, sales were down only 1% to $215 million. The reason appears to be growing competition with a multitude of Craft Beers. Still, the numbers are not bad for owner, Jim Koch.

Walmart and Craft Beer

Walmart is experimenting with Craft Beers. The test is taking place in 39 stores in the New York area. The stores will be stocking Sugar Hill Golden Ale from New York's Harlem Brewing Company. Walmart's interest in its beer came as a total surprise to owner, Celeste Beatty.

Burger King Denied Beer Licenses

Burger King was granted a license to serve beer at its restaurant in Suffolk, UK in 2015. The permit allowed the sale of one plastic container of beer per adult. The company had recently applied for a similar license at London's two busiest stations, Victoria and Paddington. The permits were denied due to protests from local police.

McDonald's Serves Beer in Foreign Markets

McDonald's franchisees in France and Germany already sell beer as part of the menu. South Korean McDonald's restaurants will experiment with beer later this year in an effort to attract younger clientele.

Beer in Ancient Spain

Jonathan Carlyon, Professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Colorado State University has researched the use of beer in ancient Spain. Beer was the drink of the warring tribes of the Iberian Peninsula before the arrival of the Romans and brewed there for at least the last 5,000 years. It was made primarily by women as part of the bread making process. The men drank beer before battle. When the Romans tried to take the city of Numantia, they found they could not beat these beer drinking warriors. The Romans were only able to conquer Spain by putting the city under siege and cutting off its supply of grain and hops.

Get Paid to Drink Beer

Until March 26, the World of Beer chain with over 70 location is accepting applications for a “Drink It Intern” – a position the company says will allow the lucky lushes to “travel the world, hopping from brewery to brewery, WOB tavern to WOB tavern to explore beer for themselves and share their stories with WOB drinkers across the country.”

Beer Fountain

The town of Zalec, Slovenia is planning to install a beer fountain in the town square. Zalec is located in the “valley of green gold.” The name comes from being a center of hops production. The fountain is expected to be a tourist attraction. Tourists will get three 10 ounce servings and a commemorative mug for 6. The fountain will cost €350,000. The mayor, Janko Kos, says “It's true the fountain won't be cheap. But, it's a development project, a tourism product.”

Beer Bath

The Starkenberg Brewery in Austria has filled one of its 7 swimming pools with 42,000 pints of beer. According to the company, it will allow visitors a chance to relax in the hot tub while touring the facility. According to brewery tour guide, Andrea Stigger, the warm beer leaves tourists' skin “soft and smooth.”

Beer Spa

Not to be outdone, the Hop in the Sea Spa in Sisters, Oregon offers beer baths, hop body wraps, and beer oil massages. Owner, Sally Champa says it helps with all sorts of skin ailments and is looking forward to selling a line of beer beauty products online.

Hard Cider and Soda

Seagram's Hard Soda

The Hard Soda category just got more crowded. Seagram's has introduced Cherry Cola, Grape Soda, Lemon 'n Lime, and Orange Cream. The line will be produced at High Falls Brewery in Rochester, New York and distributed nationally.

AB/Inbev and Boston Beer's Soda

AB/Inbev has announced the creation of the second item in its hard soda line; Best Damn Cherry Cola. It joins Best Damn Root Beer on retailer's shelves. Other brands competing in the same segment include Boston Beer's Coney Island Root Beer and Twisted Tea.

Cider Certification

The United States Association of Cider Makers appointed Eric West as the Interim Director of its Cider Certification Program. West is writer for Cidercraft Magazine and publishes a weekly newsletter, Cider Guide. He also organizes the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition. The certification program is designed to promote the sale of cider with wholesalers, servers, and others who are interested in becoming experts on cider.


Havana Club Dispute

Bacardi continues to fight the government over the rights to the Havana Club name. Last month we reported that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved the application of the Cuban government for a trademark on the label. The Arechabala family founded the Havana Club Distillery in 1878 and ran the business until the Cuban government confiscated it in 1960. The rum has been produced and sold worldwide except in the U.S. since then by a 50/50 partnership with Pernod-Ricard. Meanwhile in 1994 Bacardi bought the Arechabala family's recipe and rights to the label and started producing Havana Club Rum in Puerto Rico. The rights to the trademark have been the subject of ongoing litigation in the U.S., Spain, and the World Trade Organization. After the recent trademark ruling Bacardi filed a Freedom of Information request. On February 11 Eric Kraus, Bacardi Senior Vice President of External Affairs, testified before the House Judiciary Committee.


Why is a rum recipe important? When rum is made, molasses is fermented with yeast. It is the yeast in that recipe that gives each rum a unique character. When the Cuban government confiscated Bacardi's Cuban plants, the company had the yeast strain preserved in Puerto Rico. Before turning over the factories to the government, the company killed the yeast in its Cuban facilities. Thus, the Cuban government was never able to duplicate Bacardi Rum.

California Whiskey Clubs

Southern California has several whiskey clubs. Here are a few:

L.A. Whisk(e)y Society. A closed group of 32 Hollywood professionals. Adam Herz, writer of American Pie, is president. Established 2006,

Malt Nuts. Founded by orthodox Jewish men in 2010. Now includes men and women of all faiths. Closed to new members.

Los Angeles Scotch Club. A group of single malt enthusiasts. Lifetime membership is open, $150. Established 2006. Group examines the virtues of new single malts and rare vintages.

Southern California Whiskey Club. Established 2013. Membership is officially closed, but ask. The group samples whiskeys of all types.

New Spirits Categories

As Americans look for new experiences in international food, they are also looking for new adventures in drinks. Here are several spirits that are up and coming in the U.S. market.

Pisco – a grape brandy distilled in Peru and Chile. Records show that Pisco was made in Peru as early as 1613. Peruvian Pisco is distilled to 80 proof and not aged. Chilean Pisco can be distilled and rectified to 60, 70, 80, or 86 proof and is aged either less than 1 year or more than 1 year. It was popular in San Francisco in the 19th century.

Cachaca – (Pronounced Kuh-chah-suh) It is made in Brazil by fermenting fresh sugar cane within 24 hours of cutting. It is aged briefly in barrels made from a variety of woods.

Mezcal – Mescal can be made from one or several of the 30 varieties of Agave as opposed to Tequila which is made from Blue Agave. Most Mezcal is made from Espadin Agave. The plant matures in about 12 years, then it is cut, smoked, cooked, and distilled. The process often gives it a smoky character.

Baijiu – is distilled in China primarily from Sorghum. It can also contain other starchy grains including rice, barley, wheat, and corn. It is generally distilled to 100 proof and comes in several grades based on the aroma of the spirit. Although most is consumed in China where it is made, it is the largest selling spirit category in the world.

Shochu – There are two versions made in Japan. One is made from corn, rice, rye, sweet potatoes, or sugar distilled in pot stills is delicate in flavor and served neat or over ice. The second version is made from molasses in a continuous distillation process and distilled several times until the spirit becomes tasteless and mixable like Vodka. Shochu can vary from 40 to 90 proof.

Soju – is made in Korea. Originally it was distilled Sake. Today it can be made from rice, barley, other grains, or sweet potatoes. It can vary in strength from 40 to 100 proof.

Poitin – (Pronounced Po-Cheen) is an unaged Irish spirit. It is traditionally made in small pot stills from any starch source. It is thought to have been made for as long as 1400 years. Its history is much like the history of Moonshine in the U.S. In 1661 a tax was levied on personal distillers. Later, in 1760, a law was passed requiring a license to make Poitin. These two laws drove the production into secrecy, but did not slow consumption.

Grammy Vodka

Ciroc Ultra Premium Vodka was the official Vodka of the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.

Russian Vodka Exports Plummet

Exports of Vodka from Russia fell 40% in 2015 as demand for the product dropped in the West and particularly in the Ukraine.

What Do You Drink With Girl Scout Cookies?

The staff at Bourbon Review decided that their readers would appreciate pairings of Bourbon with Girl Scout Cookies. The project required serious and extensive research, but fortunately, the staff was up to it. In each case, they took a bite of cookie, followed by a sniff and sip of Bourbon, followed by another bite of cookie. A daunting, but necessary procedure under a lot of pressure. Here are their findings:

Thin Mints and Basil Hayden's. The Bourbon has distinctive mint tones making a perfect match.

Peanut Butter Patties and Johnny Drum. This 101 proof whiskey has notes of peanut to pair with the cookies.

Shortbreads and Pappy Van Winkle's 20 Year Old Reserve. Both are rich in flavor and need to be savored.

Samoas and Angel's Envy Rye. The caramel tones of the cookies pair beautifully with the crown sugar and cinnamon notes of the rye.

Cranberry Citrus Crisps and Four Roses Single Barrel. The fruity Bourbon has plum and cherry flavors that are brought out well by the cranberry and citrus tastes.

New World Record for Gin Tasting

The new World Trading Company set a new world's record for simultaneous Gin tasting. The record was set by 796 drinkers in bars in 3 cities in the UK. The participants had to win local competitions in order to get the right to join in the mass tasting. The Gins tasted were Tanqueray 10, Whitley Neill, and Caorunn. Following the record setting tasting, the crowd celebrated the event with free drinks.

Other Foods and Beverages

Nestle Water Under Scrutiny

The U.S. Forest Service has started a comprehensive review of Nestle Water's operations in the San Bernardino Mountains. The review is being handled under the National Environmental Policy Act. At stake is Nestle's Arrowhead Water Division.

Aldi Arrives

Discount grocery retailer, Aldi, is moving ahead with California store openings after 3 years of preparation and planning. 8 stores will be opened on March 24, and 37 more by year end for a total of 45 with 1,100 employees.

Hardest Restaurant Reservations

Six of the twenty hardest restaurants to get dinner reservations in the country are located right here in California.

N/Naka Los Angeles, a 3 month wait. Reservations become available at 10 AM Sunday and are gone in minutes. If you miss out, you can go on a wait list or watch chef Niki Nayama on Netflix's Chef's Table.


Trois Mec Los Angeles, a 2 week wait for superlative food that isn't flashy by chefs Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook, and Vinny Dotolo. Reservations become available every other Friday at 10 AM.


The French Laundry Yountville, a wait of 1 month or more. Chef Thomas Keller presides over one of the most famous restaurants in the world. Reservations become available one month from the date you call. But, you may not get through in time.


State Bird Provisions San Francisco. Wait time 2 months. Reservations become available at midnight two months ahead of the calendar date. The alternative is to walk in. One third of the tables are reserved for walk-ins. Hopefuls start lining up at 4 PM.


Benu San Francisco. Wait time 2 months. Chef Corey Lee serves contemporary Korean and Chinese food. If you can be flexible on your dining date, you might get in earlier.


Bestia Los Angeles. Wait time a month or more. Chef Ori Menashe serves up the best comfort food in Southern Cal. If you don't get a reservation, you can hang out in the bar and hope for a no-show.


Pepsi Campaign

Coca Cola put names on its cans in a recent campaign. Now Pepsi is putting emojis on its cans and bottles. The Pepsi marketing team has come up with a “Say it with Pepsi” campaign. The designs will appear in over 100 markets.

The Changing Market

Kosher Wine Reaches Mainstream

The Royal Wine Company with its Kedem Brand has become a major supplier of fine wines with a Kosher designation. This year's Kosher Food and Wine Experience (KFWE) will extend the reach of Kosher wines into the mainstream. At one time Kosher wines were only used for sacramental purposes. Royal has changed all that and intends to continue the growth of the category. The purpose of KFWE is to educate retailers and consumers to the quality of Kosher wines.


Bernie Paloma by Miguel Herrera

1/2 oz. Vermont Maple syrup

1/2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice

2 oz. Fresh Grapefruit Juice

2 oz. Silver Tequila

Shake and pour into a Margarita glass

Beef & Beer Chili

1 1/2 cups chopped red onion (about 1 medium)

1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 small)

8 ounces extra lean ground beef

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 (19-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained

1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth

1 (12-ounce) bottle beer

1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in chili powder, cumin, sugar, and salt; cook 1 minute. Add oregano and next 4 ingredients (through beer) to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in cornmeal; cook 5 minutes. Stir in juice.



What's New? Sirtfood!

The Sirtfood Diet was developed by two nutritionists, Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten. The diet is based on foods and beverages that activate the sirtuin proteins in the human body that regulate the biology of aging, cell death, inflammation, metabolism, and the damage stress causes to cells. The diet increases the speed of weight loss and even counterbalances the effects of junk food. The most important part of the diet seems to be that it includes Red Wine and Chocolate! The diet was tested on 40 subjects in an upscale health club. They lost an average of 7 pounds in seven days. Check with your doctor before trying this... and your accountant. The cost of the 7 day diet $2,099.40.

Red Wine Health Studies

A new report that analyzed more than 100 studies was published by Dr. Jeremy Spencer of the University of Reading in the journal Wine Safety, Consumer Preference, and Human Health. The report concluded that Red Wine is good for human health. The benefit seems to come from phenols, which allow nerve and brain cells to keep communicating with other cells as people age. That ability to communicate between cells is what delays Alzheimer's and other aging diseases.

107 Year Old Wine Drinkers

Harry K. Wolf celebrated his 107th birthday in Morro Bay. Harry says “It's a lot of work trying to stay alive.” He attributes his age to drinking wine. Every day he sips a glass of red after lunch and a glass of white after dinner. He has led a full life. Among the highlights: he worked as a bat boy for the Pittsburgh Pirates when they had Spring Training in San Luis Obispo, used to ride a horse and buggy to Morro Bay to dig for clams, taught 31 years at Cal State University. He is the country's oldest ham radio operator.


Antonio Docampo Garcia died at the age of 107 at his home in Vigo, Spain. He had refused to drink water for several years and credited his long life to drinking his own Red Wine. He fought in the Spanish Civil War. Following that he retired from the army to run the winery, Bodegas Docampo. Not one for moderation, Antonio drank 1 1/2 liters after lunch and another 1 1/2 liters following dinner.

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 Zuri Sip 'n Shop Wine Tasting hosted on by Tuanni Price was held at Fleming's in Beverly Hills. The wines tasted were all produced by African Americans, Latinos, or Women. There were a number of good to excellent wines poured. For information on events and future tastings contact or (424) 222-9463.

Chef Rhonda Lodi Chardonnay 2014 was dry, light, and clean. A good buy at $20. Lodi Malbec 2012 was full bodied, good color and nose, soft; a good buy at $25. Contact Rhonda or Myron Russell at or (832) 730-4895.

Charles Wine poured Symphony 2014. Symphony is an unusual hybrid of Grenache Gris and Muscat grapes. This dry white wine has a Muscat nose and flavor with the full body of Grenache. Contact Paul Charles at or (661) 244-7027. Moreno BHLV poured a pair of very good sparkling wines. The Rose' NV is made from Mendocino Pinot Noir grapes. Good color and nose, good bubbles. The Brut NV is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and French Colombard. Good color, nose and bubbles. Both are priced at $20. Contact Luins Williams at or (310) 277-0500.

Vision Cellars Pinot Noir 2011 was well rounded, full body, good color, light nose. $48. Contact Mac McDonald at or (707) 836-4282.

Charles Woodson Wines showed a vertical tasting of Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010. All were outstanding with full body, good color and nose. The '07 and '09 were very good. The '06 was excellent. Our pick was the '10. It has lots of complexity and will age well for several years before hitting its peak. All priced at $110. It was fun tasting this collection because we profiled Charles Woodson and his winery in the “Celebrities” column of our October 2015 edition. Contact Rick Ruiz, President at or (707) 337-7201.

Industry Calendar

Featured Event ¡Latin Food Fest! Hits Los Angeles

¡Latin Food Fest!, the fourth annual Latin food, wine and spirits fete, hits in 2016,

Los Angeles March 18 to 21

Celebrity chefs, and wine and spirits personalities will again converge in Downtown Los Angeles for four days of non-stop Latin food, spirits and wine indulgence. March 18 to 21. ¡Latin Food Fest! Los Angeles features an all-Latina cooking demonstration on-stage, including Univision morning chef/host Tati Polo (demonstrating Venezuelan), Chef Alicia Maher (demonstrating Salvadoran), Milbet Del Cid (demonstrating Guatemalan), Alejandra Schrader (demonstrating Columbian) and others.

Last year’s festival drew over 20,000 attendees and this year’s signature event, Grande Tasting, will feature 150 restaurants, wineries, distillers, food makers and culinary personalities such as chef Ricardo Zarate, the founding chef/owner of celebrated Los Angeles Peruvian restaurants Picca, Mo Chica, and Paiche. Chef Zarate has been recognized by Food & Wine, Esquire, GQ, LA Times, Condé Nast Traveler & a three time James Beard nominee. Zarate is also the author of “The Fire of Peru: Recipes and Stories from “My Peruvian Kitchen,” which he will be signing at ¡Latin Food Fest!.

· Spirits of the Americas

Latin distilled spirits enthusiasts will kick off the 2016 ¡Latin Food Fest! by tasting tapas from the hottest restaurants and cocktails prepared by top mixologists from a collection of international distilleries representing Bacanora, Cachaça, Mezcal, Pisco, Raicilla, Rum, Sotol and Tequila.

· Grande Tasting

Latin food, wine and spirits-tasting journey to the Caribbean, Central and South America, Mexico, Portugal and Spain. Wines from Argentina, California, Mexico, Spain and spirits such as Bacanora, Cachaça, Mezcal, Raicilla, Rum, Sotol and Tequila pair with the cuisine. Grande Tasting Sunday is a Latin culinary adventure for all ages. Guests will sample Latin food and beverages, the wine and beer garden, dance to live music, learn to make fun foods at the cooking demo tent from celeb chefs and bid on memorabilia at the silent auction.

· Havana Supperclub

This six-course private chef's dinner will feature a Cuban tasting trip. Rioja wine paired with the dinner courses and a dessert rum cocktail with the final course.

¡Latin Food Fest!’s brand partners include Verizon, Northgate Markets, Anheuser-Busch, Grand Marnier, Bush Brothers & Company, KORBEL, Ibarra Chocolate, Mexico Lindo Hot Sauce, Camaronazo, Steuben Foods, Tepachito, Hard Frescos, Flatout Inc, Aveníu Wines, La Brea Bakery, Deep Eddy Vodka, Big Green Egg, Chobani and Barefoot Wines.

For information, visit,


3/2 Kosher Wine and Food Experience – LA

3/7 New Zealand Wine Fair – SFO

3/7 Night Club & Bar Expo – Las Vegas

3/9 Taste the Roots of Zinfandel - Oakland

3/10-3/13 Natural Products Expo – Anaheim

3/13 Daylight Savings Begins

3/17 St Patricks Day

3/18-20 Zinposium – Paso Robles

3/18-21 Latin Food Fest – LA

3/20 Family Winemakers – Del Mar

3/21 Santa Lucia Highlands – Carmel

3/25 Good Friday

3/27 Easter

3/31-4/3 Taste Washington – Seattle

4/1 April Fool's Day

4/1-2 VinDiego – San Diego

4/11 Santa Rita Hills Road Trip

4/13 Cabs of Distinction – Paso Robles

4/18 Reveal Walla Walla Valley Inaugural Auction – Walla Walla

4/18 In Pursuit of Balance – LA

4/19 Vins du Jura - LA

4/20 Northern California Fresh Produce Expo – Pleasanton

4/22 Earth Day

4/23 Santa Barbara Grand Tasting – Buellton

4/22-24 Earth Day Food & Wine – Paso Robles

4/24-26 Sommelier Summit - Napa

4/23-29 Passover

Promotion Calendar

3/3 Mulled Wine Day

3/5 Absinthe Day

3/17 St Patrick's Day

3/20 Bock Beer Day

3/22 Drink Water Day

3/24 Cocktail Day

3/27 World Whiskey Day

New Legislation for 2016

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 2016. 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!

If you would like to be removed from this email list, please email to with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line.