Beverage Bulletin November-December 2011

California Beverage Retailers Association

P.O. Box 56686

Sherman Oaks, CA 91413

(818) 788-8120

Ron Ziff, Editor


November-December, 2011


This month's stories:

China and Wineries

Nixon, Watergate, and Scotch

Underage Drinking

Champagne Demand and Prices Increasing Worldwide

Food and Wine Marketing

Where Did You Eat and Drink for Thanksgiving?

Chateau Lafite, Bin Laden, and Leon Panetta Revisited

Health News

Jack Daniels Famous “Michigan Whiskey”?

Is Imported Beer as American as Apple Pie?

New Liquor Laws in Effect January 1

A Mayonnaise Jar and Two Beers-Holiday Philosophy

and as always Tasting Notes and the Industry Calendar

China and Wineries

Bloomberg reports that Chinese investors see opportunity for Australian wines across the Asia Pacific region and are quickly acquiring vineyards Down Under. Chinese investors have bought six wineries in Australia’s Hunter Valley the past three months, and three more transactions are in the works, Bloomberg says.

Xiamen-based Winston Wines, which owns 60 retail stores in China, has been especially active, purchasing three smaller Australian properties this year. Bigger Chinese firms Dynasty Fine Wine and Bright Food also say they’re eyeing Australian wine assets, with vineyard prices in the country down 11% since last year and as much as 50% since 2008.

Retired Chinese basketball star, Yao Ming, who played for the Houston Rockets, has made a deal with a Napa Valley winery to co-pack Yao Ming Family Wines which will be released in December in Beijing and Shanghai.


Nixon, Watergate, and Scotch

President Nixon was known to enjoy a good shot of aged Scotch. So it was no surprise that there was a reference to this in his testimony before the Watergate Grand Jury that was recently released. When asked about appointing Foreign Ambassadors in exchange for $100,000 political contributions, he denied making such commitments. However, he went on to say that FDR had appointed Joseph Kennedy as Ambassador to England. Nixon said, it was “a pretty good appointment. After all, at least he increased the Scotch supply.”

Underage Drinking

The Irvine City Council has passed an ordinance making parents or hosts responsible if a minor is given alcohol in a private home setting. The law focuses on the problem of underage drinking parties. The first offense will be punishable by a fine of $750, second offense $1500, third or later offense $3,000.

Champagne Demand and Prices Increasing Worldwide

Worldwide demand has put global Champagne supply under pressure in the approach to the crucial holiday selling season, with brands now on allocation and price hikes in the offing for 2012.

Champagne now faces growing scarcity, due mainly to growth in the BRIC markets,” Jim Clerkin, president and CEO of Moët Hennessy USA said. “Compared to the worst days of 2008 and 2009, the rebound has been phenomenal.” Clerkin showed growth figures including 111% growth in the Mideast-Africa region since 2001, 150% in Asia-Pacific and 430% in Russia.

But the Champagne region is limited to ...production of 320 million bottles. It simply can’t go beyond that capacity. I have a number of brands on allocation, including Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, Veuve Clicquot Rosé, Moët & Chandon Imperial Rosé and Nectar Imperial Rosé. Now that Champagne reserves are topped out, I will have more allocation issues next 2012 will see a significant increase.”

Food and Wine Marketing

ANUGA is an annual food industry show in Cologne, Germany. One of this year's new items is a “beer cheese.” It is made by mixing pasteurized milk and beer. The resulting cheese has a delicious aroma and the taste of beer.

A new foodservice system is sweeping through London restaurants. Small computers at tables offer an on screen menu that patrons use to order directly from the kitchen. The system helps with faster service, inventory control, more accurate billing, and overall better customer service. Best of all, by using this system, total customer bills seem to increase by about 50%.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that spending for food at home for families averaged $6,443 in 2008 and only $6,129 in 2010; a 3.8% drop. Eating away from home accounted for $2,698 in 2008 and $2,505 in 2010. Average income fell from $63,563 in 2008 to $62,481 in 2010.

Generation Y”, those born between the 70's and the 90's are generally credited with diving wine consumption. Now 60% of Americans find it acceptable to drink wine without a meal, and we see major league ballparks and other venues serving wine and upscale food.

Where Did You Eat and Drink for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is the biggest eating and drinking holiday of the year. But, where did you sit down to the table in 2011?

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) estimates that 14 million Americans celebrated Thanksgiving in a restaurant and 16 million more ordered take-out to supplement their Thanksgiving dinner. That is still only 6% of the country. The reasons for eating in a restaurant: 31% for the convenience of not cooking and cleaning; 22% are traveling and have to; 12% don't have the space to entertain; 15% preferred it; 15% dined with someone else who preferred it; 5% just did it.

What about those that ate at home? They faced sticker shock. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation the cost is up 13%. Inflation and the growth of sales in ground turkey and turkey parts have pushed prices upwards. Frozen turkeys were available at about $1 a pound with discounts for full basket purchases. Fresh turkeys generally sold for $1.50 to $2 a pound. What also hurt these consumers was hidden inflation. Nearly all frozen and fresh turkeys were “pumped.” They were injected with salt water solutions that added 8 to 15% to the weight. The label says it will be “moister.” If a consumer wanted to get a turkey that wasn't pumped, they were forced to go to a health food store that offered birds that were organic, free range, or pedigreed “heritage breeds.” These ranged in price from $3 to $6 per pound. There was one notable exception: Costco offered fresh Foster Farms birds, without salt water added, at 89¢ per pound.

There were two other very significant differences in Thanksgiving turkeys. This year most birds were labeled “Young Turkey.” The pros can tell the difference between the Hens and Toms by sight; but the consumers are left in the dark. The other difference can be seen in the nutritional analysis. The product at health food stores and Costco show sodium content in 75mg to 100mg per 4 ounce serving range. The pumped birds have a whopping 750mg to 1400mg per 4 ounce serving. Considering most diners will eat at least 8 ounces, they might find a Big Mac at 1040mg sodium a healthier choice.


Chateau Lafite, Bin Laden, and Leon Panetta Revisted

In our September newsletter we reported on Restaurateur Ted Balestreri's News Year's Eve challenge to get Bin Laden. The wager was settled over Thanksgiving weekend. Ted pulled the cork on his antique bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1870. The guests sipped it from special glasses provided by Panetta. Each glass is engraved with the CIA seal and an inscription noting the occasion.

Health News

A new study published in the journal Cell Metabolism showed that supplementing with low-dose Resveratrol 150 mg per day resVida brand provided similar metabolic benefits as calorie restriction and endurance training. Resveratrol is a chemical found in red wine. In the study Dr. Patrick Schrauwen, lead researcher on the study, said that the chemical changes the effects of 400 genes which affect a broad range of human functions.

Jack Daniels Famous “Michigan Whiskey”?

Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger wrote a letter to Jack Daniel's GM Tommy Beam to try to convince him that Michigan's abundant fresh water and business-friendly tax code would be the perfect change for his distillery. A possible $10 a barrel county tax on the Lynchburg product will be on the Tennessee ballot next year. Michigan has an unemployment rate of over 11% and has been revamping its business regulations and taxes in order to attract jobs to the state. Bolger's letter reads, in part, “Far too often, some governments believe job creators are a bottomless barrel of revenue that can be tapped again and again. We have workers eager for opportunity and I believe Jack Daniel's could find a home in Michigan that is welcoming, successful and openly grateful for the opportunities you could provide our citizens."

Is Imported Beer Really as American as Apple Pie?

Diageo is planning on brewing Jamaican beer Red Stripe in three U.S breweries next year. A/B Inbev will soon be brewing Becks German beer in St. Louis. Fosters Australian beer comes from Texas; it used to come from Canada.


All of the above is probably all right because Boston Beer's Sam Adams brand also comes from Pennsylvania and Ohio. A/B recently moved its “312” beer, which is named for Chicago's area code, to a New York brewery. Coors offers “Rocky Mountain Cold Refreshment” from Virginia and Ohio. Miller has been making Lowenbrau Bavarian beer in Milwaukee for over 40 years.

New Liquor Laws in Effect January 1

A number of new laws have been passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Brown. We encourage restaurants and retailers to read through the summary so you know what you have to do to keep your license. Members will be emailed a bulletin in the next few days and can log in to the legislation page to stay up to date. Not a member? Fill out the form at the bottom of this newsletter and join. It's easy and costs only pennies a day.


A Mayonnaise Jar and Two Beers, Holiday Philosophy

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers. A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes.” The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things---your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else; the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first...the things that really matter. Set your priorities...The rest is just sand.”
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, “I'm glad you asked. The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of beers with a friend.”

Tasting Notes

At the Stars of Cabernet tasting we tasted a number of California Cabernets. There is nothing to compare with the body, flavor notes, and texture of these wines. We didn't find any bargains, but we were duly impressed with several. The Lancaster Estate Alexander Valley 2007 at $25; the Frank Family 2008 Napa at $45; Bernardus Marinus Estate Carmel Valley 2007 at $28; and Coup De Foudre Napa 2009 at $95 all were among the outstanding wines being served.

The Georges Dubeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2011 Celebration was held at the Beverly Hills Country Club. This was a sparkling event. The wine was flown in the same day as part of the annual nouveau release. It was a deep garnet color, full bodied, but young and fresh, the grapes showed all their flavors in glorious profusion. It was an afternoon in the French countryside captured in a glass. The wine was paired with a number of French style foods; Beef Burgundy, Poached Sole, Ratatoille, pearl onions with mushrooms, and French cheeses. Georges Dubeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2011 retails in the $10 to $12 range.


Industry Calendar

12/15 Tasting Panel Champagne Tasting-Los Angeles
12/25 Christmas
12/31 New Year's Eve
1/1/12 New Year's Day
14-15, Pomona, CA, The Asian American Expo, The Pomona Fairplex, The expo is put on by the Chinese Overseas Marketing Service. It will have over 600 booths in 5 exhibit halls at the LA Fairplex. Hall 7 will be devoted to food and beverage. Hall 8 will have beer and wine. This expo does not offer trade passes. However the $9 admission is inexpensive. Hours 10AM to 7 PM both days.
1/15-17, San Francisco, CA, The 37th Annual Winter Fancy Food Show, Moscone Center,


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 already 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.


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