Beverage Bulletin May 2011

California Beverage Retailers Association

P.O. Box 56686

Sherman Oaks, CA 91413

(818) 788-8120

Ron Ziff, Editor


May 2011


This month's stories:

Record price for a single bottle

Feds investigate restaurants employing illegal aliens

New California Food Handling certification

New law to stop self-service liquor sales

Mondavi Estate for sale

ABC Favoritism

Pabst coming to L.A.

Frost hits Central Coast Vineyards

Fresh & Easy not so easy

Gas Prices Slow Consumer Spending

Consumers resist Menu Prices

Tequila Market 2010

$1.6 Million Wine Heist


Tasting Notes

Industry Calendar


Industry News

Christie's set a new record for an auction price on a single bottle of Burgundy. A bottle of Romanee-Conti 1945 sold for $123, 899 on May 17. An undisclosed U.S. Collector is the new owner. Only 600 bottles were made in 1945.


Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. is under investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Attorney's Office. The investigation is major but is, by no means, the only restaurant being investigated. The agency has more than 1,000 audits currently in progress. The 1100 Chipotle restaurants are all company owned and not franchised. I-9's and other records are being checked, while employees at outlets in Los Angeles and other cities are being questioned.


The current agency approach is to focus on employer hiring practices rather than the workers. There are civil penalties for violations and criminal charges if the agency can prove the violations were committed knowingly. In the year ended September 30 there were 2746 cases filed. 180 of those included criminal charges against owners, managers, and other company officials. In April charges were filed against Chuy's Mesquite Broiler, a California chain. The charges included tax evasion, immigration violations, and keeping two separate payrolls for legal and illegal workers.


Effective July 1, California will require all employees who handle food in restaurants to earn a California Food Handlers Card. This legislation, modeled on successful programs in other states, will affect more than 1.4 million food industry jobs. The food handler certification examination will test the handler’s knowledge of CDC food safety risk factors such as:

  • Foodborne illness principles, including definitions;

  • The relationship between time and temperature in foodborne illnesses;

  • The relationship between personal hygiene and food safety;

  • Methods of preventing food contamination in all stages of food handling;

  • Procedures for cleaning and sanitizing equipment and utensils;

  • Problems and solutions for facility and equipment design, layout, and construction; and

  • Problems and solutions associated with temperature control, cross contamination, housekeeping, and maintenance.

    The new law includes:

  • Food handlers with current cards from Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties;

  • Food facilities with collective bargaining agreements with their food handlers; and

  • Food handlers employed by certified farmers markets; commissaries; grocery stores, except for separately owned food facilities; licensed health care facilities; mobile support units; public and private school cafeterias; restricted food service facilities; and retail stores where a majority of sales are from a pharmacy.



The introduction of a new bill to stop self service alcohol sales will affect retailers, particularly Tesco's U.S. operation Fresh & Easy, which utilizes self-service checkouts and sells alcohol in its stores. According to MF Global analyst Mike Dennis, the chain could be hurt by the legislation. "The bill is nicknamed 'Tesco Fresh & Easy Law' because Tesco's Fresh & Easy has 126 stores [out of its 175 total store count] in California, and is the only grocery chain that offers only self-service checkout and not the full-service options that you would get in other stores," Dennis was quoted as saying. (Do you want to keep track of this and other new laws? CBRA members get a special legislative notification. Join today.)

Robert Mondavi's Napa Estate is for sale. Architect Cliff May designed the 11,500 foot home in 1979. It sits atop a knoll that overlooks the Napa Valley and has a 360 degree view. The main house has two bedrooms, a living room with a 50 foot swimming pool and a retractable roof, and a wine cellar (of course). There is also a guest house, 2 tennis courts, and 56 acres. Got a few extra bucks for a vacation home? Pacific Union International lists the Yountville property at just under $20 million.


The ABC Department has come under fire for favoring sports venues. The recent beating incident at Dodger Stadium involving an attack by two drunken fans spotlighted the situation. The ABC gets 2 passes and parking for every game. The ABC admits to only going to the stadium once or twice a season. Even then the stadium management knows when they are present. The last citations were issued in the 1990's for minors violations and selling more than the two drink limit. Penalties were $3,000, $5,000, and a 20 day suspension during the off season in January 2001. Angel Stadium had its last citation in 1992 and Staples Center in 2002. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the Dodgers need to control the situation by “raising prices and stopping sales earlier than the bottom of the 7th inning.”


Pabst Brewing will be moving its headquarters to Los Angeles where owner C. Dean Metropoulos two sons live. They purchased the company in 2010 for $250 million from the foundation that inherited it from Paul Kalmanowitz. The move will not change the quality of the brew. It is made under contract by the Miller Brewing plant in Irwindale. Brands include Pabst, Colt 45, Lone Star, and new Blast.


Frost hit California’s Central Coast on April 8, 9, 10. The region is recovering from one of its worst frosts in years, with as much as half of the 26,000-acre Paso Robles vineyard area being damaged. Area growers are hoping secondary and tertiary buds will grow and reverse the effects of the frost. Many California brands feature Zinfandel that originates in this area. Zins from 2010 and through 2013 will be in much shorter supply.

Fresh and Easy, Tesco's U.S. operation lost $300 million in 2010. This is the fourth consecutive year that the Fresh and Easy chain has had losses of this magnitude. The company's started the chain in 2007 with plans to invest $2 billion in the U.S. over 5 years. Tesco appears well on its way to doing that. 13 stores were closed in 2010. Plans are to open 50 stores in 2011. The company projects going into the black by 2012 or 2013. Plans now call for about 300 stores. Originally 1,000 stores were scheduled to open during the 5 year period.


An Associated Press/GfK poll released May 20 determined that rising gas prices will cause “serious” hardship for as much as 41% of Americans. Almost 3-in-4 adults acknowledged that $4 per gallon or more at the pump will at least cause some hardship. By income, 63% of those with annual household incomes more than $50,000 said rising prices are now causing them financial hardship, up from 55% in March. More than 75% of households with incomes of less than $50,000 continue to report financial hardship. The share of seniors expressing financial hardship over gas prices hit 76%; it was 68% in March. In California prices peaked at well over $4 per gallon. Retailers and Restaurants are feeling the pinch as well through direct costs to operate vehicles and surcharges added at the bottom of supplier invoices.


Consumers are becoming more sensitive to scaled-down portion sizes and rising menu prices in restaurants, according to a new survey by research firm Technomic Inc. The Chicago-based firm found in a recent study that 62 percent of consumers believed that restaurant prices have increased in the past three months, while 32 percent said portion sizes have shrunk. Consumers said they saw similar trends in grocery stores - 84 percent of respondents said supermarket prices were up and about 50 percent said they noticed smaller portion sizes, Technomics found.


The top 3 Tequila brands in the U.S. Sales for 2010 were:

#1 Jose Cuervo 3.45 million cases 30.9% market share

#2 Patron 1.70 million cases 15.2% market share

#3 Sauza 1.60 million cases 14.3% market share

Total for 3 brands 6.75 million cases 60.5% market share

Source: Impact Databank


LONDON- Scotland Yard is searching for 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) worth of vintage wine stolen from an east London warehouse. Police say thieves disabled alarms and security cameras before breaking into the warehouse on Sunday May 22 and using a forklift to load up about 400 cases. Some of the stolen wine belonged to private investors, one of whom has offered a 5,000 pound reward for the return of the stolen wine. The Metropolitan Police appealed to the public for information, saying the stolen wine is rare and valuable and could be sold to private collectors or auction houses. Six men were seen with what police said they believe are the three getaway vehicles. Police said two men have been arrested in connection with the burglary.

Tasting Notes

This month we participated in several quite different and very notable wine tastings. We

tasted a number of very good to fine wines. As always we were looking for good values.

Wines that are true to type, sound, will age for a couple of years, go well with food, and

make retail customers happy because they are a good value for the price. That's a tall

order, yet we usually find some. “Chef Alain Ducasse says a wine should be good. It can be good at 5 Euros or 500 Euros.” We agree.


Austria Uncorked was the first big tasting on May 2. Advantage Austria showcased hundreds of wines from hundreds of wineries and dozens of distributors. We tasted many very good wines in the mid to high price range. We found the Rosenhof line of sweet dessert wines priced well below the rest of the category. All half bottles. A Welschriesling Trockenbeerenauslese 2001 $18.99. A Chardonnay Trockenbeerenauslese 2007 at $24.99. And the very fine Gruner Veltliner Eiswein 2009 at $24.99. Rosenhof Wines are available from the Blue Danube Wine Company. Contact Stetson Robbins, 650-941-4699


The Italy America Chamber West tasted Italian Wines at Viva Vino LA on May 18. There were too many wines to taste! Many were good to great wines; and most were priced that way. We were surprised to find several very pleasant and reasonably priced Moscatos.


Moscato Rose Spumantizzato $16.99, 100% Moscaqto, 7% Alc., slightly sweet, will pair with food, just a wine for a summer afternoon. Moscato di Asti DOCG 2009 $15.99, White, 100% Moscato Cannelli, Semi-dry, 5.5% Alc. Both available from Youngs Market.


Moscato Labadia $19.99, effervescent Moscato Rose, semi-dry, will pair with food. Contact Nina Sventitsky 818-981-4958 or Jacques Rifkind at 818-425-5608 .


At the Wine Warehouse tasting May 23 we were able to re-taste some of the wines we have previously reviewed. Every one of these continues to delight the eye, the nose, the palate, and the pocketbook.


Peachy Canyon Incredible Zinfandel. 82% Zinfandel, 8% Syrah, 10% Petite Sirah. Deep color, big nose, full body. $12.99 regular retail, can be on sale for $9.99 if you buy in 5 case lots.


Pedroncelli showed three good wines. Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Clean, Semi-Dry, made in stainless tanks, $11.99. Dry Rose' of Zinfandel 2010, 100% Zinfandel, good summer wine, fills the mouth $10.99. Sangiovese 2007, light yet full bodied, deep flavors, will age well for another 5 to 8 years, $13.99.


Kenneth Volk two wines. Chardonnay 2008, Clean, will go well with food, $19.99. Mourvedre 2008, dark red/maroon in the glass, beautiful bouquet, deep berry flavors, will go well with food now or age for several years and just get better, $25.99.


Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, this is still everything Napa Cab is supposed to be. Gallo is to be applauded for maintaining the quality and keeping this wine affordable. Deep color, full body, berry flavors, mellow, a lot of years left on this one, $29.99.

Industry Calendar

06/5-7 Dairy Deli Bake 2011-Anaheim

06/8-9 Unified Grocers-Long Beach

06/17 Beverage Industry Golf Cup-Tustin

06/18 Pinot Days Festival-San Francisco

06/18 Taste of Howell Mountain - Napa

06/19 Fathers Day

07/04 Independence Day

07/19 Fresh Produce Expo-Anaheim

07/22-25 California Gift Show-LA

08/7 Rhone Rangers Tasting-LA

08/28-30 Expo Comida Latina-San Diego

08/28-30 Western Foodservice Expo-San Diego



Our industry is more controlled by laws than most others. The State Legislature and the ABC give us license privileges and can take them away. New alcoholic beverage laws are being introduced, passed, and sent to the Governor. 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.

California Beverage Retailers Association – We know how to get it done.


California Beverage Retailers Association
If you are not a California Beverage Retailers Association member, please join, Print this form, and mail with a $50.00 check to: CBRA PO Box 56686, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413. You may also renew  your membership. Dues are not a charitable contribution, but may be deductible as an ordinary business expense.


Address___________________________City___________ Zip__________

Phone_________________ Email_________________________________


** NOTICE:  In accordance with 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.**

If you would like to be removed from this email list, please contact: