Wine News
Top 10 Lists
Food & Wine Pairing Shop/Gifts Top 10 Wine Lists Top 10 Wine Bars 1


2007 Wine News

Latest Wine News

December 17, 2007

Paris Hilton is Prosecco's Golden Girl

Paris Hilton in the Latest Ad for RICH Prosecco
We may go to Wolfgang Puck or Eric Ripert for advice on food, but when it comes to alcohol, is it safe to trust the expertise of party girl Paris Hilton? Despite the 26-year-old heiress's 2006 conviction of driving under the influence and subsequent time served in prison for violating her parole, she is nevertheless serving as spokeswoman for RICH Prosecco canned sparkling wine. The latest ad campaign features Hilton clad only in gold paint, crawling across a desert, and is meant to reflect the eco-issue of global warming, according to Prosecco.

Hilton told the Associated Press that she tries to do her own part to save the earth, including little things like turning off lights when she leaves a room, and, apparently, also by promoting her own line of sparkling wine. She plans to donate 20 percent of the proceeds from the RICH Prosecco to charities that provide clean drinking water to areas in need.

December 10, 2007

Don't Pair Polka with your Pinot

The taste of your wine may be determined by what's in the CD player.

The next time you sit down with a glass of Pinot Noir, make sure to pay attention not only to how it tastes, but also what music you’re listening to. Recent studies confirm that the music playing and the taste of wine may be more closely related than previously assumed. Winemaker and industry consultant, Clark Smith, has taken the idea that sounds and music affect the taste of wine, and taken it one step further. He has compiled many tasting panels and had them sample 150 different wines while listening to a variety of music styles in an attempt to determine which wines taste better with which music.

Smith’s studies have focused on the actual alteration of taste depending on the music. While his observations and tasting panels strongly support certain pairings (red wines are best enjoyed with music in minor keys or those songs with negative emotions), there is limited scientific proof to back up these findings. Smith plans to continue his observational research until he receives grants to fund scientific studies. In the meantime, oenophiles should not only look into which foods pair well with their wine of choice, but also what’s in the CD player.

December 03, 2007

Full Glass, Happy Heart

Recent studies have shown that drinking red wine reduces inflammation of the blood vessels.
A recent medical study has concluded that women who drink one or two glasses of wine per day have less inflamed blood vessels, resulting in healthier hearts. Chronic, low levels of inflammation, which can be caused by smoking, high cholesterol and obesity, are thought to contribute to the buildup of fatty deposits in the inner lining of arteries. These deposits, called plaques, can rupture and potentially cause heart attacks.

Led by Dr. Emilio Sacanella, a team of researchers at the University of Barcelona studied 35 healthy women, who all regularly drank wine. The women involved in the study spent four weeks on a heart-healthy diet, not drinking any wine. During the next four weeks, they ate similar food, but had a glass of red wine with lunch and dinner. The last leg of the study echoed the second, except the women had white wine instead of red. Based on observations of HDL (healthy) cholesterol and inflammatory substances in the women’s blood, researchers determined that the women had the highest HDL levels and lowest levels of inflammatory substances during the red wine weeks. White wine also had positive effects, but not as pronounced as those of the red wine.

November 26, 2007

Location, Location, Location

German Riesling grapes were used in a recent study, which concluded that terroir plays a large part in determining the character and taste of wine.
For anyone who has ever wondered if it really matters where their wine hails from, the proof is in. An agricultural research center in Germany has determined that terroir, the attributes of vineyard land, does affect the character and taste of wine. The three-year study conducted by graduate student, Andrea Bauer, and research director, Dr. Ulrich Fischer, focused on the Riesling varietal. Growers from various regions were chosen for the study based mainly on present soil types, with an emphasis on slate, basalt, limestone and sandstone.

All grapes were vinified by Bauer and Fischer to ensure identical fermentation, crushing and bottling procedures. The wines were then tasted in duplicate or triplicate by expert panels trained to use sensory descriptors. From this data, it was determined that wines produced on slate had sharper acidity and citrus flavors; smoother acidity and rich fruit flavors resulted from basalt-grown grapes; limestone produced wines with more intense color and aromas of tropical fruit and honey; sandstone-grown grapes displayed aromas of citrus and minerals, with an evident acidity. The research will continue with the 2007 vintage, taking climate and topography into consideration.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

November 19, 2007

A New York State of Vine

The Staten Island Botanical Garden will be the site of a Tuscan-style vineyard and garden.
New York City currently boasts many hot spots to grab a glass of wine, but early next year, the city will start producing grapes to actually make its own wine. The Tuscan Gardens Vineyard Founders Group is working with the Staten Island Botanical Garden to develop a two-acre vineyard and winery, modeled after current wine producers in Italy. In the spring of 2008, the vineyard will begin to take shape, accompanied by Tuscan Garden exhibitions based on the Villa Gamberaia, near Florence.

Members of the Founders Group traveled to Tuscany to observe the city’s vineyards and learn from Italian winemakers, including Piergiorgio Castellani, who is attempting to protect grape varieties indigenous to certain regions of Tuscany from becoming extinct. Castellani’s interest in varietals with history ties in with the goals of the Founders Group; they plan to integrate heritage grape varieties that grew in colonial times. Viticulture and enology experts from Cornell University have also been called in to help determine which types of Italian grapes have the best shot of flourishing on Staten Island.

Image from Staten Island Botanical Garden

November 12, 2007

Rosenthal Wines Celebrate 20 Years in Malibu

George Rosenthal Pours a Glass of Wine at the Rosenthal-The Malibu Estate 20th Anniversary Party
In the idyllic setting that is The Malibu Estate, on a glorious November day, George Rosenthal hosted a VIP party with his wine club members to celebrate 20 years in what is now the Malibu-Newton Canyon AVA. “In the late 1800s, more wine was exported from Southern California than any other wine region,” George said. “We are pleased to have you today celebrating not only our 20th anniversary but also the return of winemaking in the area.” For about three years now, it has been possible to run a bonded winery in Los Angeles County, and a few operations have set up shop.

The wines here are made under the watchful eye of master winemaker Christian Roguenant. He is originally from Dijon, and he has worked with Baileyana, Tangent, Carpe Diem and Maison Deutz, all in the Santa Ynez Valley. He conveyed news about vineyard development, like the addition of a two-acre parcel dedicated to the tricky Viognier varietal. “More and more of the winery operations are being transferred here,” explained longtime Marketing and Sales Director Neil McNally. “We want the crushing facility to come to Malibu, and we are planning caves as well.” Attendees sampled the 2005 Chardonnay, a soon-to-be-released 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon and an unexpected 1992 Cab en magnum (the winery’s third release), and enjoyed live music by Coffey and Kevin Misajon and grub by barbecue master Dan Cannon. For additional information and wine club events, contact Leigh Metzger at 310-899-8900 x242 or visit

November 5, 2007

New Device Detects Headache-Causing Amines in Red Wine

New Device Developed at the University of California, Berkeley, Detects Levels of Headache-Causing Amines

The cure for hangovers may still be in the distant future, but chemists have created a way to avoid the headaches that can result from imbibing red wine. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a detector the size of a small briefcase that tests liquids for presence and levels of the chemicals, called biogenic amines, which cause the dreaded “red wine” headaches. The device needs only a drop of wine and five minutes to determine amine levels.

Richard Mathies, who was involved in the development of the detector, has co-founded a company that plans to produce a smaller device to make testing in public places more practical. Although the headaches are most commonly associated with red wine, these amines are also found in other food products that are aged, pickled and fermented, including chocolate, cheese, olives, nuts and cured meat. Right now, there is no way to prevent the pains, but this device may help those who are prone to headaches avoid wines with high amine levels, or at least warn them that they may soon be in need of extra-strength pain relievers.

October 29, 2007

Harvest Gives Champagne a Reason to Celebrate

Champagne Vineyards Report Record Harvest Numbers, Having Grown Enough Grapes to Produce 389 Million Bottles of Wine
The nearly 81,000 acres of productive vineyards in Champagne, France, have set new records with their 2007 harvest. This year’s grapes have the potential to produce more than 389 million bottles of wine, topping 2004’s record of 375 million bottles. The average yield per vineyard was 14,000 kg/hectare (about 12,500 lbs/acre), nearly reaching the maximum yields of 15,500 kg/hectare (about 13,800 lbs/acre) set by the Institut Nationale d’Appellations d’Origine (INAO).

This year also marks a change in maximum yields allowed by the INAO, which is similar to the AVA system in the United States. The new maximum will be in place for a five-harvest experimental period from 2007 to 2011. If it hadn’t been for uncooperative weather, vintners project that they could have produced even more grapes, possibly reaching the new limit. A difficult summer affected Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, and other parts of the region were hit with hail, resulting in areas with yields as low as 8,000 kg/hectare (about 7,100 lbs/acre).
Despite weather difficulties, Champagne producers are sure to rake in large profits, giving them plenty of cause to pop open some bubbly of their own.

October 22, 2007

Cleavage Creek Proceeds Benefit Breast Cancer Research

Proceeds from Cleavage Creek Cellars benefit breast cancer research.
Don't be fooled by the name of Budge Brown's new winery, Cleavage Creek Cellars. He's not being exploitative, but rather charitable. After losing his wife of 48 years to breast cancer, Brown hopes his wines will stop others from having to experience similar losses. Ten percent of gross sales of his wines will support breast cancer treatment and research to find a cure. He has already donated $5,000 to the Breast Cancer Care Center of Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa to assist in the purchase of an MRI machine used to assess the severity of breast cancer.

The seven women featured on the eight varietals of Cleavage Creek’s first offering support Brown’s cause, as each is a survivor of the disease. Brown’s winery has produced about 2,000 cases, consisting of a 2005 Reserve Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005 Reserve Napa Petite Sirah, 2005 Cabernet-Syrah, 2004 Merlot, 2004 Merlot-Syrah, and 2006 Reserve Chardonnay. Also available are the 2003 Secret Red and 2006 Secret White. Prices range from $18 to $50. For more information or to purchase the wines, visit the winery’s web site,

October 15, 2007

Hello Merlot, Goodbye E. coli

Researchers have discovered red wine also fights foodborne illnesses such as E. coli
Researchers have given oenophiles yet another green light to enjoy red wine. In addition to the ever-growing list of health benefits, studies conducted at the University of Missouri-Columbia have concluded that the vino also protects humans from foodborne pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria.

Associate professor of food science Azlin Mustapha and food science doctoral student Atreyee Das found that the protection is due to the combination of ethanol, pH levels and resveratrol, a phytochemical found in the skin of grapes. These ingredients also fight Heliocobacter pylori bacteria, the main cause of stomach ulcers. The anti-microbial properties of the grapes counter dangerous pathogens without harming useful bacteria in the body. Those who prefer Pinot Grigio to Pinot Noir will be disappointed that the beneficial findings of Mustapha and Das do not carry over to the lighter-hued varietals. However, the pathogen fighters are present in red grape juice, so parents who don't wish to fill their children's sippy-cups with Merlot are in luck.

October 10, 2007

Rosé Now Blooms Outside the Vineyard

Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé is now available in major markets across the United States.
Domaine Carneros has recently opened the garden gates, allowing their Brut Rosé to bloom outside the vineyard. Originally, winemaker Eileen Crane's bubbly blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay was only available at the winery, but a growing demand for sparkling Rosé and increased interest from consumers has led to its debut in major U.S. markets for $30 a bottle. The Brut Rosé can be enjoyed on its own, or in the Domaine Carneros signature cocktail, “Bouquet of Rosé," developed by "The Liquid Muse," Natalie Bovis-Nelsen, in honor of the sparkling wine's national release.

Bouquet of Rosé

1/2 oz. Sence Rose Nectar
3 1/2 oz. Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé
Dash of rose water
Sprig of fresh lavender

Pour rose nectar and Domain Carneros Brut Rosé into a chilled champagne bowl. Add a dash of rose water. As an aromatic garnish, lay a sprig of fresh lavender across the top of the glass.

October 1, 2007

Better Grab a Cleveland Claret

New Laws Prohibit Out-of-State Wine Producers from Shipping to Ohioans
Wine-loving Ohio residents will now find it much more difficult to acquire a bottle of their favorite out-of-state red or white. Beginning this month, legislators have prohibited direct-to-consumer shipments from wineries not based in Ohio whose total production exceeds 62,500 cases. Many organizations, such as the national consumer grassroots coalition, have been protesting the law since it was passed by the state legislature as part of a budget bill.

For smaller wineries, the law also sets an annual 24-case limit “per family household,” versus the “per winery, per individual” standard used in many states. Therefore, the wineries that are still permitted to ship to Ohio will likely opt out in order to protect themselves from potential non-compliance charges. While some out-of-state wines may still be available in the Buckeye State for slightly elevated prices, many wineries and vineyards do not distribute nationwide. The best bet for Ohioan oenophiles seems to be relocation, as direct-to-consumer wine shipments are legal in 34 other states.

September 24, 2007

Australian Wine Production Takes a Dive Due to Drought

Drought in Australia's Murray-Darling Basin Results in Severe Drop in Wine Production
Due to severe drought in Australia, many vineyards and wineries down under may be going under. During an average year, the Aussies harvest about 1.9 million tonnes (about 2 million tons) of grapes for winemaking. The predicted vintage for 2008 will be significantly smaller, yielding somewhere between 800,000 tonnes (about 880,000 tons) and 1.3 million tonnes (about 1.4 million tons). Vintners who rely on the Murray-Darling Basin for their irrigation water have been hit hardest by the drought, namely those located in Victoria’s Murray Valley and South Australia’s Riverland regions.

The Murray-Darling Basin is responsible for nearly half of Australia’s agricultural goods. Government aid packages have done little to remedy effects of the country’s continuingly dry conditions. Nearly a thousand wine grape growers are in danger of going out of business. Also in question are the long-term effects the water shortage will have on Australia’s wine industry, which brings in billions of dollars each year. Prime Minister John Howard announced the drought has the potential to kill many of the region’s orchards and vineyards, and declared the situation “a genuine crisis.” Howard has encouraged Australians to pray for rain so they can turn their water into wine.

September 17, 2007

Martha Stewart Adds Wine to her List of Business Ventures

Martha Stewart Partners with E. & J. Gallo to Produce Martha Stewart Vintage Wines
Just when you thought she couldn’t possibly branch out into another aspect of domestic life, Martha Stewart has announced she will be serving up her own wine. Stewart and E. & J. Gallo, with whom she has had a long-standing business relationship, will produce the “Martha Stewart Vintage” line. Three wines will make up the initial 15,000-case offering: 2006 Sonoma County Chardonnay, 2005 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon and 2006 Sonoma County Merlot. The wines, which are slated to go on sale in early 2008, will not immediately be available nationwide. At the launch of the project, they will only be sold in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Denver, Phoenix, and Portland, OR. Each bottle will cost about $15. Stewart, known for her homemaking ways and her brief stint in the big house, has vastly expanded her Martha Stewart Living empire in the past year. Her business ventures range from crafting supplies to branded homes, and most things in between.

September 10, 2007

Pop the Bubbly: September 2007 is “California Wine Month”

September 2007 Declared California Wine Month
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has given Californian oenophiles another excuse to drink wine during the month of September, officially declaring it “California Wine Month.” Throughout the state, wineries are offering special tours, and tasting rooms are featuring deals on their products. Some of the state's 2,000-plus wineries are even branching out from the traditional tours and tastings and hosting events like the Wine Country Music Awards, which will be held at the Silver Horse Winery in San Miguel. With nearly 100 winegrape varieties grown in California, there’s something for everyone, regardless of whether you indulge in Sauvignon Blanc or cross over to the dark(er) side with a Pinot Noir. Retailers like Vons and Safeway are getting in on the fun, prominently displaying California wines. If you don’t call the Golden State home, no need to fret; restaurants and retailers from coast to coast will also be featuring wines produced in California. For a full list of events and more information about California wine, visit

September 3, 2007

Mutant Grapes Aim to Make the World a Better Place

Pinot Noir Genome Identified

Scientists hard at work in laboratories in France and Italy can finally sit back and enjoy a glass of what they’ve been studying. Thirteen genes that give Pinot Noir grapes and the wine they produce their distinct flavors have been identified. These findings may mean new breeds of the grapes that can resist disease. Grape DNA can also be controlled to produce specific changes in flavor. In the study, the genes that make molecules called tannins and terpenes, which control the flavor and aroma of the grapes, were amplified and identified. Vintners who dabble in science or vice versa may be able to use this information to spotlight certain flavors and eliminate others. Beyond taste adjustments, these findings help promote the health of the crops. Each year, wine producers face the possibility of their harvest being affected by mildew, fungus and disease. Both France and Italy count wine as highly important to their economies, so this discovery may result in not only tastier wines, but higher GNPs.

August 27, 2007

J's Luxurious Essence Tasting Tantalizes Tastebuds

J Vineyards & Winery Hosts Essence Tasting
J Vineyards & Winery is taking the guesswork out of food and wine pairing, and they’re doing it with style. The Healdsburg, California, wine producer now offers a dining experience designed to stimulate the senses. The Essence Tasting is offered only once a week, each Thursday from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Before guests are seated and served, they get to see where their wine is coming from and learn a bit about one of J’s eight vineyards. It’s not all business though – while they learn about the Russian River Valley, they get to sip a glass of Nicole’s Vineyard Pinot Noir. They are then served a seven-course tasting menu prepared by executive chef Mark E. Caldwell. Each course is paired with a wine produced by J. The elaborate meal begins with an Amuse of Kumamoto Oyster and Osetra Caviar, paired with J’s Vintage Brut. For the main course, Porcini Mushroom Crusted Noisette of Lamb is served with J’s Pinot Noir. The cost is $200 per person and reservations must be made at least two weeks in advance. More information about J Vineyards & Winery can be found at

August 20, 2007

Spoiled Spoils of War Fetch Thousands

Moët & Chandon
A 1937 bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne, although rare, is valued at about $200. So why did one particular bottle sell for nearly $3,000 when it possibly has been poisoned? The 70-year-old bottle is believed to have once belonged to Adolf Hitler.
After Germany’s defeat, Hitler’s wine cellar in the Reich Chancellery in Berlin was raided, and one of his bottles of champagne was obtained by a British soldier. The man he gave it to recently had it put up for sale by Charterhouse Auctioneers in Sherborne, Dorset, England.  Two Swedes purchased the artifact for £1,450 (about $2,880) to use in a television program they are making on dictators. They say they may resell the bottle and donate the proceeds to a Jewish charity. Beyond being well past its prime, the champagne should not be imbibed because of uncertainty about whether it was injected with cyanide by Nazis during the war. Hitler never used the bottle to toast any of his victories, as he did not drink alcohol.

August 13, 2007

Cork Producers Say, "Keep it Real!"

Endangered Cork

With an increase in the use of synthetic corks, environmentalists and cork manufacturers are encouraging wine producers to act natural. The decrease in demand for natural cork makes environmentalists worried about the survival of animals like the endangered Iberian lynx and the Barbary deer, which frolic in cork forests. In order for cork to stay off the endangered species list, producers have to ship more out, and an eighteen percent jump in the use of synthetic wine-stoppers in the past seven years makes cork's future look darker than a glass of merlot. Wine industry consultants expect the synthetic trend to continue, predicting an additional fifteen percent increase in the use of cork alternatives by the end of the decade. Cork producers and environmentalists are looking to chop down the synthetic trend with the help of the Forest Stewardship Council's "environmentally friendly" stamp, hoping that "green" shoppers will seek the eco-friendly stoppers and keep the industry afloat. So in this curious case, environmentalists are asking us to use more of a natural resource, not less.

August 06, 2007

Napa Legend Sold

Stag's Leap Sold

Warren Winiarski’s Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, held privately for 35 years, sold in late July to Washington-based Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Italy’s Marchese Piero Antinori for $185 million. 79-year-old Winiarski, whose 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon famously beat out some of France’s stiffest competition in the Judgement of Paris Tasting, decided to put his business on the market after family issues regarding continued ownership of the winery couldn’t be ironed out. The sale is keeping with current trends in Napa Valley, where many major wineries are being bought up by larger corporations.  Between the allure of hefty buying prices (roughly $275,000 an acre) and the challenges that come with passing a family business on to the next generation, many of Napa’s most famous properties are being snatched up by larger corporations. Big names like Robert Mondavi and Beringer, both sold in the past three years to Constellation Brands and Fosters Group of Australia (respectively), are a prime investment for companies looking to put their money in a winery that the public already knows and loves.

July 30, 2007

Rowdy Oenophiles Get Carded

Not only will some winery visitors be carded on the way in, but also on the way out. Wineries in the Finger Lakes region of New York have developed a new system, debuting this summer, that puts obnoxious imbibers in the proverbial naughty chair. While some winery owners believe that personal responsibility is enough to keep customers in line, others (namely those who have experienced topless vineyard runs, public urination and swimming races in decorative fountains) disagree. If an individual has sampled a few too many Chardonnays and begins engaging in obnoxious (or illegal) behavior, participating wineries can issue the offender one of two cards.  As in soccer, the first card is yellow, which serves as a warning that further inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated.  If the drunken antics continue, they are then given a red card, which signals the end of their winery tour. In addition, other wineries that the transgressor was scheduled to visit later in the day will be called and informed of the ban.

July 19, 2007

The Dom Perignon Vintage 1999 is Out

Dom Perignon Vintage 1999 Release

Its reputation precedes itself, but in the case of the 1999 we want to say simply: WOW! Now allow us to elaborate somewhat on this glorious event. We had the chance to sample a few glasses of the golden bubbly with the man who made the stuff, Chef de Cave extraordinaire Richard Geoffroy, and Dom Pierre Perignon himself would be proud. The Champagne was accompanied by the succulent food of the house chef, Pascal Tingaud. We found the wine to be extremely approachable and round. Young, certainly, but with an ability to age, an extreme versatility with food and good from the get-go. It has also mastered the primary task of what defines a prestige cuvee Champagne: complexity. In Richard’s words: “How can it be so complex, so subtle, yet mature? That’s the wonderful paradox of Dom Perignon Vintage 1999.” Please rush out to your fine local wine retailer and grab a few bottles, you will not be disappointed. 

July 16, 2007

Brush, Floss, Swirl and Sip

Wine May Prevent Cavities

Researchers from the University of Pavia in Italy have discovered a surprising new health benefit that comes from sipping vino: cavity prevention.  The researchers began their study by taking samples of both red and white wines and removing the alcohol, which contains result-muddling ethanol and is also known for being naturally antiseptic. They then introduced strains of streptococcal bacteria, the culprit behind your cavities, to the alcohol-free vino. Results showed that both red and white wine fought off the troublesome substance, and it also kept related strains of streptococcal bacteria (namely, the kind that causes sore throats) at bay. While red wine was found to be slightly more effective at keeping teeth healthy and happy due to a higher quantity of acid, sipping either color may help to keep dental bills down.  So, the next time you waffle over buying an expensive bottle of wine, just think of it as an investment in your oral health.

July 9, 2007

A Rat in the Cellar


Fans of Disney’s newest film Ratatouille, the story of a French rat with great culinary aspirations, can now bring home an unusual piece of Remy the Rat memorabilia: a fine Chardonnay. The wine is part of the uber-company’s new, sophisticated marketing initiative that leaves the cloying cutesiness of character-branded merchandise behind in favor of a more adult spin. In addition to the vino, offerings include princess-inspired bridal gowns and a line of retro furniture inspired by Walt’s personal collection. Set to debut in early August at Costco stores, the wine is made in the legendary Burgundy region, and, appropriately, pairs well with the famous French dish for which the movie is named. At only $13 a bottle, Ratatouille Chardonnay isn’t much more than a pair of mouse ears. Thanks to Disney, having a rat in the cellar doesn’t seem so bad.    

July 2, 2007

Red, White and Blues Brother

Dan Aykroyd

He's sported a conehead, busted ghosts and played a wailing harmonica as Elwood Blues.  Now Canadian comedian Dan Aykroyd can add another role to his resume: winemaker. Following on the heels of his generous investment in the Niagara wine region of Canada, Aykroyd has created an eponymous line of wines that were released in that country this June.  In addition to the moderately-priced Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series, ranging from $15 to $25, he also is debuting the high-end Dan Aykroyd Signature Reserve Series, which will be priced at around $50 per bottle. The Academy Award nominee has also announced plans to open The Dan Aykroyd Winery, a joint venture with Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits, which should be up and running in time for the 2008 growing season. The Beamsville Bench winery will be entirely green, utilizing solar panels and environmental water management systems, and will also showcase some of Aykroyd's movie memorabilia. Sadly, non-Canadians looking to get their hands on the actor's wine will have to wait.  Stateside distribution is slated to begin in February 2008, when the vino will arrive in stores and be served up at House of Blues venues across the country.

June 25, 2007

Join the K'orus

K'orus Wine

Kedar Beverages plans to bring wine to an untapped market this summer with K’orus wine, geared primarily towards the African-American consumer. Created by Kedar Massenburg, former CEO of Motown Records, and noted oenologist Jean-Sébastien Robicquet, K’orus is a French wine that steers clear of the pretentious vibe that often comes along with the production and consumption of fine wine. The label is introducing a Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon for wine novices which will all retail for less than $15 a bottle. They are geared towards the African American market, which currently represents only 10% of wine imbibers. Four more varietals of the budget-friendly wine, including Champagne, are expected to be introduced in the next year. A series of launch events and an extensive advertising campaign are set to introduce Americans to this new wine brand, like its debut fête at Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills, where K’orus is currently the house wine. Celebrities like Stevie Wonder and Vivica A. Fox were on hand to sip their support and toast to K’orus’ success.

June 18, 2007

Work of Art

Hyatt's New Canvas Wine

Hyatt Hotels & Resorts launched its new signature wine brand, dubbed “Canvas,” which will be served at all Hyatt restaurants and bars in the United States, in early June.  Developed with the help of Folio Fine Wine Partners, the Napa Valley-based company of Michael Mondavi and family, the wine is designed to represent “the art of living.”  After collaborating with Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson Immer, Mondavi created three varietals for the hotel: a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon with lush aromas of black cherry, blackberry and cassis, a 2005 Chardonnay that features notes of apple blossom and honeysuckle and a 2005 Merlot with rich tannins and subtle flavors of spice. Hyatt unveiled its new liquid asset at the Grand Hyatt New York, where guests sampled Canvas selections while browsing original artwork on loan from the New York Academy of Art. More tasting events are expected to follow at Hyatt locations across the country.

June 11, 2007

Napa Auction Opens Hearts and Wallets

"The American Classic"

The Napa Valley Vintners’ annual Auction Napa Valley concluded on June 10 after raising over $9.8 million for charity over the course of their four-day celebration. Highlights of the event, dubbed “The American Classic,” included the sale of 106 barrel lots, a summer soirée under the stars with hors d’oeuvres prepared by the Food Network’s Michael Chiarello, and Dana Carvey’s stand-up act, during which he lampooned Speaker of the House and Napa Valley vineyard owner Nancy Pelosi (not realizing that her husband was only a few seats away). Lucky bidders returned home with loot like limited-production wines, a pre-release Lexus luxury hybrid sedan loaded with vino, and a luxurious Italian getaway. Throughout the weekend, attendees doled out their dough to support health care, youth services and affordable non-profit housing, but the most heartfelt giving of the weekend occurred during the first ever “fund a need” auction.  Led by John Shafer of Shafer Vineyards, 68 bidders volunteered over $764,000 to support children’s health care at Clinic Ole, with no other prize in sight.

Image courtesy of Napa Valley Vintners

June 5, 2007

California Wine Sales Set Record

California Sales Set Record

California wine sales have reached a record high with sales in 2006 reaching a staggering total of 449 million gallons. The recent growth trend is thought to be a result of the media’s increased coverage of the health benefits of the resveratrol and antioxidants found in wine, as well as an increase in California wine country tourism.  U.S. exports have grown 30 percent in value and four percent in volume, with 95 percent of that wine coming from California vineyards. As appreciating wine becomes a pastime for the masses and not just the snobby elite, consumers are buying more premium wine than ever before, with purchases of bottles priced at $15 or more on the rise. As American wine culture continues to gain popularity, sales are expected to continue growing as they have for the past thirteen years. There are now more than 5,000 American brands currently on the market.

May 29, 2007

AVA Debate Continues

Justin Vineyards in Paso Robles

Wineries in Paso Robles seem to be having a hard time seeing eye to eye these days.  Currently the largest undivided AVA in California at 667,000 acres, Paso Robles is currently at the center of a heated debate regarding the creation of subappellations that would more accurately reflect the distinct and unique winegrowing areas within the larger region.  Two conflicting proposals are on the table, with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) pushing to split Paso Robles into East and West, and another plan (promoted by the Paso Robles AVA Committee)  which proposes dividing the area into 11 separate subappellations. Supporters of the Paso Robles AVA Committee, including Justin Winery owner and committee vice-chairman Justin Baldwin, believe that simply dividing the area into East and West doesn’t accurately represent the different climates and conditions of the wine growing area, and those who oppose the committee claim that the boundaries currently set for the 11 separate AVAs are random and nonsensical. It’s unlikely that a universally accepted solution will be found anytime soon, but the TTB is closely monitoring the debate and hopes to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

Image courtesy of Justin Winery

May 21, 2007

From Barrel to Biofuel

Salute Santé

Entrepreneurs Nanette and Valentin Humer really know the meaning of the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The duo has made their living by collecting the waste left behind after a vineyard’s grape crush – specifically, the seeds- to create Salute Santé, a light-tasting grape seed oil for cooking.  A staple at Napa Valley restaurants like Julia’s Kitchen, Silverado Resort and Zuzu, Salute Santé is a light alternative to other cooking oil, and features a clean taste and high smoke point. Now they’re taking their love of wine waste one step further, and using discarded grape seed oil to fuel their vehicles. While most restaurants typically pay to have used oil carted off, Salute Santé users have their used oil picked up free of charge by the Humers, who then pour it into the tanks of their two Mercedes Benz vehicles and Ford truck. Converting an engine from diesel to grape seed oil isn’t a cheap process; it typically costs around $2,000, but the Humers haven’t seen a gas station in years.  The couple hopes that other oenophiles will be inspired by their environmentally friendly philosophy, and find ways to “close the loop” in their own lives.

May 14, 2007

Pest Warfare

light brown apple moth

The light brown apple moth, a pest known for plaguing the vineyards of New Zealand and Australia, has recently made its unwelcome debut in California. The California Department of Food And Agriculture has confirmed its presence in more than eight counties, including Marin, Monterey, San Francisco and Santa Cruz. Australian viticulturists report that moth generally causes between 15-30% crop loss per season. While winemakers are understandably distressed by this information, the critters have only been spotted crawling on nursery stock, meaning that there may still be time to take preventative measures. CDFA officials are employing a highly effective pheromone trap to help them gauge the extent of the infestation and plan for extermination.  If the moths are discovered in the larval stage, a simple organic spray can contain the problem.  If the growth progresses to the caterpillar stage, however, especially when they hide in grape bunches (out of sprays’ reach), they can be particularly hard to control.

Image courtesy of CDFA

May 07, 2007

James Beard Winners

Mark Slater

The James Beard Foundation announced the winners of their prestigious awards for excellence in the culinary world on May 7th in New York's Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. In addition to honoring the accomplishments of their own, the foundation also raises funds to provide scholarships to future culinary professionals and educates parents and children across the country about food and nutrition. This year, honorees included two exceptional wine authorities. Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional went to Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards in Cupertino, California. Mark Slater—pictured at left wearing his prestigious accolade—of Michel Richard Citronelle in The Latham Hotel in Washington, D.C. took home the Outstanding Wine Service Award. Click here for more award winners.

April 30, 2007

Stiff Drink

Woodford Reserve Mint Julep

From the opulent outfits to the pricey ponies, it’s safe to say that Kentucky Derby fans are comfortable with the concept of luxury living. Woodford Reserve, the Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, is now giving indulgent race-goers the opportunity to enjoy a luxe libation on race day: the $1,000 Mint Julep. Only fifty of the costly cocktails will be mixed, with proceeds to benefit Green Pastures, a non-profit organization that supports disabled jockeys and retired thoroughbreds. Made with mint from Morocco, ice from the Bavarian Alps, sugar from Australia and a special batch of Woodford Reserve, the mint juleps are served up in cups created by New England Sterling, the same company that manufactures the winner’s trophy.  This year’s cups, some of which are being auctioned off by Christie’s, are plated in 24-kt gold and feature profiles of the Derby’s previous winners, such as Barbaro and Aristides. Sipping becomes an elegant affair with the included sterling silver straw.

April 23, 2007

High-Tech Protection

Colgin Bottle

Ann Colgin, owner of Colgin Cellars, has recently taken steps to protect her pricy wines with a new, high-tech, anti-counterfeit system.  With vintages selling for more than $800 a bottle and approximately 3,000 customers clamoring to make it on their exclusive mailing list, the winery wants to make sure its buyers are getting the high-quality wine they pay for. The new protection system known as “Traceless,” originally developed by Kodak to prevent fraudulent pharmaceutical sales, is shrouded in secrecy. Very few details are available to the public about the system, and Colgin has declined to comment on the process, citing an anti-disclosure agreement. What we do know is that a colorless, odorless, invisible marker, adhesive to virtually any material and only detected by a Kodak scanner, is applied to a surface, such as a wine label or synthetic cork. The limited-availability scanners are temporarily leased to those who have passed a stringent background check and can prove a verifiable need to use them, and are then promptly returned to Kodak’s possession. Other wineries are expected to follow suit in the near future, allowing wine collectors to pursue their passion without having to fret that the vintage Bordeaux they bought is actually just re-packaged Charles Shaw.

April 16, 2007

Wearable Wine

Micro'be' Top

Who among us hasn’t accidentally worn their wine after a stain-producing spill? Australian Gary Cass has actually developed a way to wear wine on purpose. The University of Western Australia at Perth scientist’s new line, aptly named Micro’be’, is made from the cellulose woven by bacteria in vats of fermenting wine.  The rubbery, slimy cellulose that develops on the surface is skimmed from the top of wine vats and then draped across the line’s first model – a life-sized blow-up doll. The cellulose shrinks to fit the form, and once the desired shape is achieved, the blow up doll is deflated and removed. Cass doesn’t expect to see his highly impractical designs on the racks anytime soon, but hopes that they will spark debate about the future of organic fashion. The biggest problem with bacterial haute couture is that it must be kept wet, as the fibers aren’t long enough to move with the body and tend to break when dry. Perhaps you can increase their utility by spilling your wine on them!   

April 9, 2007

U.S. Wine Exports on the Upswing

Wine Exports on the Upswing

Recent Department of Commerce data indicates that last year’s wine exports increased by thirty percent in value and four percent in volume, following the disappointing market drop in 2005. More than half of the exports end up in Europe, where U.S. wine value increased by 48 percent in 2006. It’s no surprise that the majority of the exports come from California, a trend that should continue following the recent agreement guaranteeing that the European Union market will remain open to the Golden State while maintaining consistent trade requirements. Some factors that may have contributed to the rise in international sales are the recent trend of shipping wines to Europe for bottling and distribution (avoiding hefty shipping costs) and the implementation of special labels designed to attract more European customers.

April 2, 2007

Virtual Vineyard

Virtual Vineyard

Wine lovers who have fantasized about owning and operating their own vineyard are one step closer to their dream thanks to Crushpad, the brainchild of San Francisco businessman Michael Brill. The web-based interactive winery allows users from any part of the world to design and bottle their own wine, with participation varying from a few mouse clicks to physically de-stemming and crushing the grapes from their chosen vineyard. Users who can’t travel to Crushpad’s San Francisco facility receive frequent e-mail updates and can oversee the crush of their grapes via webcam complete with live chat, so that the at-home vintner and employees can communicate. Users then perfect the blend and design their wine’s packaging, and some go on to participate in interactive tasting sessions with other users. Membership starts at $5,000 and includes all the costs of your wine, with a minimum production of one barrel a year.  For more information, visit   

March 26, 2007

Utah Puts the Brakes on Merlot Plate

A mock-up of the offensive license plate

Wine lover Glenn Eurick was recently informed by the Utah Tax Commission that the vanity plates on his dark red Mercedes are unacceptable and must be removed. The offensive slogan? MERLOT. Utah forbids the use of words or phrases related to intoxicants on its vanity plates, a policy that it enforces by way of a strict screening process that occurs before the plates are issued. Eurick’s plates had been mounted on his car for over ten years before an anonymous tipster called the government to report that Merlot was an alcoholic beverage. Claiming that his plates reference the color of his vehicle, Eurick plans to challenge the state’s decision. If the mandate stands, he wants his next set of plates to read “NO MERLO”. 

March 19, 2007

Friendlier Skies for Sonoma Travelers

Friendlier Skies

It’s easy to enjoy the wines of Sonoma Valley when you’re vacationing there.  Bringing them home for future enjoyment, however, is no easy task; shipping is troublesome and costly, and the TSA liquid and gel ban has made bringing purchases on the plane impossible.  Luckily, Horizon Air has instituted a new policy that allows jet-set oenophiles to check one case of wine (containing up to 12 bottles) as a third bag on flights departing Santa Rosa free of charge. The pro-wine program was developed in conjunction with the Sonoma County wine community to celebrate Horizon’s new Santa Rosa route. Passengers of legal drinking age on the vino-friendly flights will also enjoy free samples of local wines and microbrews.

March 12, 2007

Historical Hoax

Thomas Jefferson

Avid wine collector William Koch, whose cellar holds over 35,000 bottles, has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was sold counterfeit vintage wine.  Four of the bottles in question, for which the Florida-based mining and energy firm president paid roughly $100,000 apiece, were said to be from Thomas Jefferson’s personal collection, found entombed behind the wall of a Paris cellar.  The possible fraud may have gone undiscovered had Koch not been asked to display his acquisitions in The Museum of Fine Art in Boston where experts turned a wary eye on the potentially doctored bottles. A closer examination revealed that the former president’s initials, etched into the glass, were carved not by hand, but by a modern power tool. In addition to the suspiciously modern handiwork, Jefferson experts from his Virginia home report that there is no historical evidence to suggest that Jefferson monogrammed his bottles. German wine merchant Hardy Rodenstock, accused by Koch of committing the forgeries and then reselling the bottles to wine dealers, admits to no wrongdoing and claims that whoever drinks the “absolutely genuine” wine will be “drinking history.” The FBI is currently investigating the case.

March 5, 2007

Global Warming May Change Wine Map
Villa Dievole

A recent study by Florence University in Florence, Italy has revealed that the rising temperatures and heavy rains caused by global warming may adversely affect the quality of grapes produced by Italy and other top wine production areas.  If global warming continues unchecked, overall temperatures are expected to increase by eleven degrees in the next hundred years.  Since grapes would over-ripen in these conditions, the ideal areas for vineyards would shift north, changing what we now consider the world’s foremost wine regions. A similar trend has been observed by olive farmers, whose crops have begun thriving further and further north, almost reaching the Alps. While most winemakers are not yet concerned, the EU recently announced that it intends to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of its nations by twenty percent below the levels of 1990, which could potentially save some of Italy’s most loved wine regions.

February 26, 2007

Napa Valley Auction Sets New Record

The eleventh annual Premiere Napa Valley, a barrel auction also affectionately referred to as the “bake sale” for Napa Valley Vintners, broke the two-million-dollar mark this past Saturday. The sold out trade-only event, attended by restaurateurs, retailers, wholesalers and Napa’s winemakers, auctions off lots of Napa Valley’s finest wine futures. In addition to providing winemakers with a valuable opportunity to mix and mingle with their customers, the Premiere Napa Valley also raises funds for some of NVV’s community-enhancing programs. The auction itself lasted three hours and left 71 bidders with empty pockets and big smiles. The top bid of the day was $50,000 for five cases of 2005 Stice Lane Block D Cabernet Sauvignon from Rombauer Vineyards.

*Photo courtesy of Napa Valley Vintners.

February 19, 2007

Wine May Yield More Health Benefits, Thanks to Ozone
Healthier Wine

A group of scientists in Spain have recently discovered the numerous advantages of treating stored grapes with ozone gas instead of sulphur dioxide. Sulphur dioxide, while preventing decay in grapes and aiding in the graceful aging of wine, can trigger allergic reactions in consumers, as well as adversely affect the flavor of certain wines. The use of ozone gas, in addition to eliminating the chance of an allergic reaction, has also been found to increase the amount of antioxidants by up to four times that of sulphur dioxide-treated grapes. While some scientists doubt this will have an immediate impact on the wine industry, as most grapes used in the winemaking process are stored for only a limited amount of time and don’t require extreme preservation techniques, there is a strong possibility that ozone may soon be used to replace troublesome sulfites used in the liquefaction process.

February 12, 2007

Fall Harvest Yields Fall in Prices

Shoppers can expect to see attractive prices for high-quality red vintages over the next six to twelve months, due to a large fall California harvest that has loaded wineries with a bounty of red wine grapes. Winemakers crushed almost 1.9 million tons of red wine grapes last year, according to a state and federal agricultural report—making it all the more difficult for wineries trying to deal with surpluses from a 2005 overflow. In addition, the consumer appeal for lower-priced wine imports forces California vintners to offer their red wine at more competitive prices. The nation’s biggest-selling domestic red wine, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon will most likely be the best deals.

February 5, 2007

Americans Drinking Less Domestic Beer

Domestic Beers

Americans are drinking less regular domestic beer. While light and import brews have been growing in popularity (not to mention wine and spirits), iconic brands like Budweiser and Coors are quickly losing market share. According to Mintel International, only 25 percent of American adults (older than 21) drink regular domestic beer today versus 40 percent in 2001. On the other hand, the consumption of domestic light beer has gone up by 4.8 percent in just two years, while regular and light imports have increased by 27 percent since 2001.“The shift from domestic beer has as much to do with taste as it does with health, said Bill Hulkower, an analyst for Mintel. “Consumers who don’t care about the calories in their beer are reaching for fuller flavor craft, regional and imported beers. When consumers want a lighter flavored, low-calorie product, domestic (light) beer takes center stage. But looking ahead, domestic might have trouble even maintaining its light offerings with new imported lights selling well.”

January 30, 2007

U.S. to Overtake France as Largest Wine Market

Uncle Sam wants you to drink more wine

France may be the heart and soul of winemaking, but by 2010, it might lose its status as the world’s largest wine market. That honor will fall to the United States, whose love affair with wine is bound to intensify. According a study done by the VinExpo trade fair in Bordeaux, American consumption will rise to 2.73 billion liters in 2010 from 2.3 billion in 2005, while France’s will lower from 2.74 billion to 24.9 billion over the same period. That would actually make France the third largest wine market with Italy retaining its second spot. Consumption of still wine throughout the world should go up in general with big gains in the blooming markets of Russia and China. Market value should also increase, signaling that people are not only drinking more wine but higher quality, more expensive bottles.

January 22, 2007

Gigantic Wine Bottle Takes Manhattan

Five Virtues "Albany" bottle overshadows its creator
Kim Bullock and his
Five Virtues' "Albany" bottle

Like Godzilla ravaging the streets of Tokyo, the world’s largest wine bottle made its way down Wall Street in New York last week. At 6-feet-5 inches tall and 1,300 pounds, the “Albany” of Australian Five Virtues Shiraz visited the Big Apple to kick off a nationwide marketing effort to highlight all things Australia, including wine, food and culture. It holds the equivalent of 387 regular bottles and easily beats the former record holder, a 4.5-foot Beringer Vineyards 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon.

The “Albany” is the brainchild of Kim Bullock, a liquor store owner for Albany, Australia, who enlisted help from around the world to create this very large and very expensive bottle of wine. The glass was created and designed in Germany, while the huge $3,500 cork originated in Portugal (there’s no word on where to find the corkscrew big enough to remove it). The one-of-a-kind label cost $1,500 and even the box that was used to transport the bottle from the Land Down Under was a cool $7,500. As for the wine, Five Virtues is the special product of five wineries from Australia’s Great Southern region that mixed together their best Shiraz grapes to create the nearly 64 gallons of wine the “Albany” can hold. Bullock says that he has received multiple offers for the “Albany,” including one for $100,000, but he has no plans on giving up his “baby” just yet. For those interested in getting a “miniature” version, 1,200 regular 750-mL bottles of Five Virtues will be sold.

January 15, 2007

Wine Baron Wanna-Bes

BeautifulPlaces' Deerfield Glen estate in Sonoma County

If you want to learn the ins and outs of the California Wine biz, you can’t absorb it all in one tasting-filled weekend. Instead, take advantage of the Wine Baron program, a series of personalized itineraries prepared by BeautifulPlaces and tailored to the specific interests of serious wine enthusiasts. Before they put you up in a furnished wine estate in Napa or Sonoma for an extended stay, the company will find out which aspect of wine you want to concentrate on—such as planting, growing, crushing, storage, bottling, blending, tasting, aging, or collecting—and arrange for hands-on experiences at wineries as well as consultations with experts and the production of your very own samples. If you want to improve your green thumb, viticulture experts representing large, small, cult and organic vineyards will take you through the entire process from planting, soil types, grafting, nurturing, and harvest. If collecting is your thing, master sommelier Evan Goldstein, James Beard award-winning author of Perfect Pairings, will consult with you, select wines to taste and vineyards to visit, and make you a step-by-step-guide for creating or adding to your cellar. Other experts taking part in the program include winemaker Sarah Gott of Blackbird Vineyards, Julie Johnson of Tres Sabores and Jon Egelskirger of Turnbull Cellars. The prices vary for the program, which is available anytime, but is best enjoyed during harvest season, September through early November.

For more information, contact Jean Drewes at BeautifulPlaces, 707-996-0266 or 800-495-9961,

January 8, 2007

Warm Weather Endangers Ice Wine Crop

For residents in the Northeastern United States and Southern Canada, this winter’s unseasonably high temperatures and lack of icy weather have been a welcome relief. For ice wine makers, however, this turn of climatic events could lead to no grape harvest this year and therefore no bottles rushing out to ice wine connoisseurs around the world in 2007. Federal regulations specify that ice wines have to be made after the first frost, almost always in December, from grapes harvested and pressed while frozen. Canadian regulations are even stricter, requiring temperatures below 17 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tony Debevc, owner of Debonne Vineyards, in Madison, Ohio, told the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier, "No one that I know of in the whole eastern United States and Canada has harvested any ice wine." That is because temperatures haven’t dropped low enough for the grapes to freeze, even at night when they are usually picked. Freezing the grapes after harvest is also not an option. Growers can usually wait until mid-January or early February, but forecasts don’t look promising and 2007 could be a year without ice wine.

These very sweet, dessert-style drinks trace their origins to an early frost in 18th-century Germany, where they got their original name of eiswein. A frozen grape yields only a few drops of sugary juice, and it takes four times as many grapes to produce a bottle of ice wine than a bottle of regular wine harvested in the fall. Sometimes called “nectar of the gods,” half-bottles of ice wine frequently sell for $80 and are sought after around the world.

High temperatures in Germany have also prevented an ice wine harvest there.

For ice wine pairing ideas, click here.

January 2, 2007

California Winemakers Enjoy a ‘Sparkling’ Year of Growth

Corks are popping in California, as the great grape-growing state has enjoyed yet another year of growth in sparkling wine sales. For the second year in a row, sales of California sparklers grew at a six-percent rate. Experts attribute the increases to new wine drinkers, the relaxation of inter-state alcohol shipping laws, greater consumer spending and California’s increasing reputation for producing quality sparkling wine.

“To me, the most exciting perceived change in 2006 has been the influx of new, young wine drinkers. They are fueling the growth and are turning the dream of creating a wine culture in America into a reality,” said Joy Sterling, CEO of Sonoma County’s Iron Horse Vineyards. “The new generation is taking to wine much earlier; they are more adventuresome and experimental. They were weaned on California wine, so they don’t carry European prejudices,” continued Sterling, who also points to its wine club for Iron Horse’s 7.5 percent sparkling sales increase.

California produces 95 percent of the country’s wine exports, generating $51.8 billion. The entire wine industry, not just sparkling sales, has seen double-digit growth since it was last surveyed four years ago by the California Association of Winegrape Growers.

News / Tasting Notes / Features / Wine Map / Wine Events / Interviews / Community / Site Map / About Novus Vinum / Contact Us / Advertise

Copyright © 1996-2010 GAYOT ® All Rights Reserved; Privacy Policy; Disclaimer GAYOT (pronounced guy-OH)