Beverage Bulletin March 2017

California Beverage Retailers Association

Beverage Bulletin

P.O. Box 56686

Sherman Oaks, CA 91413

(818) 693-5561

Ron Ziff, Editor

Ben Ziff, Publisher


March 2017

Would you care for some Wine?” “No thanks. The Martini is a nice year”

-Author, Robert B. Parker in Perish Twice


Stories in this issue:

Headline News - ABC Fines Major Beer Distributors, Luxury Wine and Cheese Gang Arrested, Gallo Purchases Stagecoach Vineyards, Drought Update


Celebrities in the Industry - Olivia Newton-John, Jason Priestley, Yao Ming, Marc Perrin, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Hillary Duff, Isaiah Thomas, Pink


Popular Culture - Game of Thrones


Politics - Babies Before Booze, French Election Hinges on Wine, Melania Trump Honored with Wine, Wine Festival Canceled, Wine Bar Sues President Trump, Undocumented and the California Economy, Presidential Favorites


Books - Two and Two, McSorley's, The 24 Hour Wine Expert, How to Drink Like a Billionaire


Movies & TV - Blood and Whiskey, Wine Oh TV


Wine - Who Will Pick the Grapes?, Is There a Wine Bubble?, Champagne Vending in Vegas, Shortage of Champagne Grapes, The Treat's on Me, Chinese Wine Tasting, Counterfeit Carlo Rossi, Chinese Market to Grow, New Zealand Imports #3, Kosher Wine Bar, Wine Waste to Wine Glasses, Chateau Angelus Fights Counterfeiting, 3 Liter Red Blend for $50,000


Beer - and You Thought You Had It to Yourself, Bud the First Beer on Mars?, First Beer on the Moon?, Beer at 35,000 Feet, Craft Brewers of the Year, Walmart Sued For Craft Beer


Hard Cider - Virginia Cider Flows


Spirits - Auctioneer Exposes Counterfeiter, Jack Daniel's to Sponsor NBA, WNBA,

Time for the World's Oldest, LA's Best Margaritas, What's in Your Gin?


Other Foods and Beverages - Bottled Water #1, Burger King Has a Taste for Chicken, The American Melting Pot, U.S. Most Expensive Meal, There is a Free Lunch!, You Can't Get Enough of a Good Thing, Customer Preferences, Good Mistake, Philly Soda Tax Update, Brave New World


The Changing Market - Women in Wine, Food Deflation


Recipes - Bourbon Burgers


Health - Largest Study Finds Heart Benefits of Alcohol

and as always Tasting Notes and the Industry Calendar


Headline News Stories

ABC Fines Major Beer Distributors

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control fined two Beer & Wine wholesalers for illegal trade practices. Anheuser-Busch, LLC was fined $400,000 and Straub Distributing Company, LTD was fined $10,000. In addition 34 retail licensees paid various fines. The settlements came after a year-long investigation begun in 2015 by ABC's Trade Enforcement Unit that found the wholesalers covered the cost of, or partially financed, refrigeration units, television sets and draught systems at retailers in the Southern California area. Anheuser-Busch branches in Sylmar, Pomona, Carson, and Riverside were involved. Straub Distributing covered Orange County.

Luxury Wine and Cheese Gang Arrested

Italian police broke up the “Wine and Cheese Gang” in arrests this month. The gang had stolen 16,000 bottles of wine and 168 wheels of Parmesan cheese since 2015. The thefts totaled more than 180,000 from cheese factories, shops, and restaurants. Ten men were taken into custody in Modena, Italy. Why Parmesan? A single wheel of cheese can sell for more than $500.

Gallo Purchases Stagecoach Vineyards

E&J Gallo has purchased Stage Coach Vineyards in Napa Valley. Gallo has committed to honor all existing contracts. Stagecoach supplies more than 90 wineries with top varietals. The property is more than 1,300 acres with 600 acres planted in Cabernet Sauvignon and 15 other grape varieties. Gallo already owns William Hill, Louis Martini wineries, and the Orin Swift brand, and The Ranch winery in St. Helena. It also owns nearby Cypress Ranch, Palisades Vineyard, Sun Lake Vineyard, Snows’ Lake Vineyard, Ledgewood Creek Winery, and Winterhawk winery.

Drought Update

Only17% of California is now considered in drought. None of the state is still rated as in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought.


After years of drought the state's reservoirs are overflowing and dams are being by-passed with spillways, some for the first time. The question has come up about state water projects: Do we need more dams? The fact is that there are more than 1,400 statewide and there may be no place to put any more.


The drought can probably be considered over. At least for this year. Growers in 24 counties are now eligible for disaster federal relief funds for flood. In Lodi much of the flooding came from a small stream known as “Dry Creek.”


Celebrities in the Industry

Australian singer, Olivia Newton-John, makes Koala Blue Wines in her native Australia. Two varieties are offered: Syrah and Chardonnay.


Jason Priestley played Brandon Walsh in the 1990's TV show, Beverly Hills 90210 now makes wines at his Black Hills Winery in Canada's Okanagan Valley. His Viognier, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Red Blend range in price from $25 to $40.


Former NBA star, Yao Ming, has partnered with Princess Cruises to promote his Yao Family Wine. The luxury cruise line is promoting its holidays to wealthy Chinese. A new cruise from Shanghai to Rome will start running this May.


French winemaker Marc Perrin announced that Miraval Winery that he owns in partnership with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is not for sale despite their coming divorce. He said the estate is continuing to operate for the benefit of the children. The group produce a prize winning rose', two whites, and soon a red. They just released an Extra Virgin Olive Oil that comes in a stoneware bottle for 29 a liter. ($31 U.S.)


Actress, Hillary Duff, has introduced her line of wines. The wines are Central Coast Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and a Red Bland. All are line priced at $13.99.


Basketball Hall of Fame player, Isaiah Thomas is importing and selling his own label Champagne. The wine is bottled for Thomas by Cheurlin Champagne. Cheurlin Thomas Black Label Champagne is an Extra Brut and the exclusive Champagne served in the Detroit Pistons luxury suites.

The singer, Pink, has revealed her “dirty little secret.” She has been quietly developing a vineyard and winery in Los Olivos. Pink, whose real name is Alecia Beth Moore, has worked for four years to develop the biodynamic and organic vineyard and just loves working in the fields. Her 25 acres produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Grenache and Grenache Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc. The wines are currently not for sale. The singer has sold more than 60 million albums and will be on tour this summer.


Popular Culture

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones wines are being released this month by Vintage Wine Estates. The Central Coast Chardonnay 2016 is labeled with the House of Lannister Golden Lion, $19.99. The 2013 Red Blend is labeled with the House of Targaryen Three Headed Dragon, $19.99. The House Stark Direwolf covers the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, $49.99. The wines tie in with the debut of season 7 on HBO this summer.



Babies Before Booze

Last year Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher and Cristina Garcia authored a bill that would have exempted diapers and feminine hygiene products from sales tax. Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill saying that it would reduce tax revenue by $55 million. This year the two women have reintroduced the bill with the addition of an increase in tax on distilled spirits to offset the loss of tax on diapers and tampons. Assembly Bill 479 would raise the tax from $3.30 to $4.50 per proof gallon.

French Election Hinges on Wine

With elections uncertain all over the world; the French Presidential Election has taken an interesting turn. Presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron, claims he has the qualifications of a true leader. Macron says he can identify wines in a blind tasting. His policy? He intends to have a glass of wine with lunch and dinner. He promises to work against pesticides and for allowing wine ads on TV.

Melania Trump Honored with Wine

Four winemakers in Sevnica, Slovenia have teamed up to make First Lady Wine in honor of Melania Trump. Sevnica is the town where she grew up. The winemakers; Mastnak, Lozinc. Kobal, and Kerin are proud of their blend and hope it will promote the region. The wine is a Blaufrankisch 2015 and sells for 27.90. ($29.99 U.S.)

Wine Festival Canceled

The 2017 Orange County Wine Society's March 26 Wine Extraordinaire scheduled for the Orange County Fairgrounds has been canceled. The Fairgrounds management and local law enforcement officials jointly made the decision on February 22 to keep the facility closed March 25 & 26 due to a planned “Make America Great Again” rally and related protests on the adjacent streets. The Fairgrounds management felt it was in the interest of public safety not to have the annual wine event going on simultaneously.

Wine Bar Sues President Trump

The owners of Cork Wine Bar and Cork Market & Tasting Room in Washington D.C are suing President Trump on the grounds that his ownership of Trump International Hotel is unfair competition. Owners, Khalid Pitts and Diane Gross, are not asking for money. They are asking the court to stop Trump from operating the hotel while President. They say that fundraisers, dinners, Trump's appearances at the hotel to host foreign dignitaries, and other events all hurt their business.

Undocumented and the California Economy

As uncertainty continued on the status of undocumented workers, USC did a study to find out what they mean to California's economy. The results: 10% of total employment, 45% of Agricultural Workers, and 21% of Construction Workers.

Presidential Favorites

Two months ago we published a partial list of Presidents and their favorite drinks. We have since had a lot of requests for a more complete list. Here is what we have:

George Washington – Dark Porter

John Adams – Hard Cider

Thomas Jefferson – Wine

James Madison – Champagne

James Monroe – Red Burgundy

John Quincy Adams – Madeira

Andrew Jackson – Whiskey

Martin Van Buren – Whiskey – He was known as “Blue Whiskey Van”

William Henry Harrison – Hard Cider

John Tyler – Champagne

James Polk – Wine

Zachary Taylor – Whiskey

Millard Fillmore – Madeira

Franklin Pierce – Everything

James Buchanan – Sherry

Abraham Lincoln – Water

Andrew Johnson – Whiskey

Ulysses Grant – Champagne

Rutherford Hayes – Teetotaler

James Garfield – Beer

Chester Arthur – Ale

Grover Cleveland – Beer

Benjamin Harrison – Tea

William McKinley – Rye

Theodore Roosevelt – Mint Julep

William Taft – Champagne

Woodrow Wilson – Scotch

Warren Harding – Whiskey

Calvin Coolidge – Tokay Wine

Herbert Hoover – Martini

Franklin Roosevelt – Cocktails

Harry Truman – Bourbon

Dwight Eisenhower – Scotch

John Kennedy – Bloody Mary

Lyndon Johnson – Cutty Sark Scotch

Richard Nixon – Chateau Margaux

Gerald Ford – Martini

Jimmy Carter – White Wine

Ronald Reagan – California Wine

George H. W. Bush – Vodka Martini

Bill Clinton – Snakebite

George W. Bush – Diet Cola

Barack Obama – Beer

Donald Trump Coca-Cola



Two and Two: McSorley's, My Dad, and Me by Rafe Bartholomew, Little Brown, 288 pages, $27. A memoir of New York's oldest continual operating saloon. The author goes from memories of his father to his own filling of beer mugs today. McSorley's is known for being stubborn and different. The bar only serves house ale and customers get two mugs when they order, the staff is known for being so tough that tourists feel insulted if they haven't been insulted, women were banned until 1970, mostly the watering hole is noted for male camaraderie. Due out in May.

The 24 Hour Wine Expert by Jancis Robinson, Abrams Image, 112 pages, $12.95. Robinson, internationally renowned wine expert and sommelier to the Queen of England, gives novices all the info needed to be a Master of Wine in one day. She proves that anyone can do it.

How to Drink Like a Billionaire by Mark Oldman, Regan Arts, 256 pages, $28.95. One of America's leading experts on wine reveals the innermost secrets of drinking the finest, and doing it for less.


Movies & TV

Blood and Whiskey

Actor Aaron Paul has been tapped to play Jack Daniel in the TV drama, Blood and Whiskey; the Life and Times of Jack Daniel. The production is planned as a series based on the book of the same name by Peter Krass. Daniel owned his first moonshine distillery at the age of 13. He went on to found the current distillery following the Civil War. In 1907 he turned the business over to nephew, Lem Motlow. Today it is owned by the Brown-Forman Company. Daniel died in 1911 from blood poisoning in his foot. He suffered the injury when he angrily kicked a metal safe.

Wine Oh TV

Comcast Hometown Network covering 2 million homes in Northern, Central California, and as far south as Santa Barbara will be airing Wine Oh TV, a half hour program starring Monique Soltani. The show will air at 8:30PM Wednesday nights. It is a fun, fresh and informative wine, travel and lifestyle show produced by Thinque Media.



Who Will Pick the Grapes?

California's farm labor pool is tightening. 9 out of 10 workers are foreign born. More than 50% are undocumented. American workers don't want these low paying, hard labor jobs. Some farmers are expressing concerns about getting enough workers because of immigration crackdowns. Northern Coast grape growers are facing competition from M*______ growers who are willing to pay higher wages since California voters approved recreational use last November. (*the M word is not shown because some internet servers would not transmit this magazine if that word is included) The wine grape labor shortage may be nationwide. President Trump's son Eric has applied for work visas to bring in 6 foreign workers for the Trump Winery.

Is There a Wine Bubble?

Some experts in market operations say that the boom in U.S. wine sales may be over after a 40 year run. From the 1970's to today wine consumption has tripled and now stands at 12 liters per adult annually. Growth seems to have stopped or at least paused in 2007 or 2008, shortly before the recession. This doesn't bode well for the 11,000 wineries nationwide. That number has doubled since 2006. The market appears to be very near a classic economic “bubble' that could burst at any time. This is the situation: wine drinking appears stalled, the wine drinking population is aging, production is still increasing, Nouveau riche celebrities with an extra buck are getting into the wine growing fad, and competing products like craft beers and spirits are taking market share.

Champagne Vending in Vegas

Moet & Chandon has installed a Champagne vending machine in the 23rd floor Sky Lobby of Las Vegas' Mandarin Hotel. Guests must first prove they're 21 and buy a $20 coin at the front desk. The machine dispenses 187ml bottles of Imperial Brut or Imperial Rose'. Moet has similar machines at its New York office and at Selfridge's Department Store in London.

Shortage of Champagne Grapes

Frédéric Dufour, president & CEO of Dom Ruinart, said “A shortage of Chardonnay is limiting the growth of Champagne houses. For great Chardonnay you need chalk, and certain slopes, and the quantities of Chardonnay produced can be tricky – the grape is fragile because it blossoms early; so great Chardonnay is the most challenging to get. Everything that can be planted to make good Chardonnay has been planted ”

The Treat's on Me

When the New England Patriots won the Superbowl, Defensive End, Chris Long treated his team to traditional Champagne. Well, not exactly. The wine was Andre' California Sparkling by E&J Gallo. When USA Today interviewed him, he said “I got it at Walgreens.”

Chinese Wine Tasting

The first U.S. tasting of Chinese wine will take place on May 16 in New York City. The wine is from Chateau Ronzi and was produced under the watchful eyes of Jean Claude Berrouet of Chateau Petrus. It is reputed to be well balanced and will pair well with many cuisines.

Counterfeit Carlo Rossi

Police in the Songjiang district of Shanghai found 3,000 cases of counterfeit California Carlo Rossi Wine valued at about $116,000. The wines were discovered in the warehouse of a merchant. The merchant and his supplier were both arrested. The wines were identified as counterfeit by label discrepancies found by Nanfu Food, the Carlo Rossi distributor for China.

Chinese Market to Grow

According to VinExpo, wine consumption in China will grow by 39.8% and it will become the second biggest consumer of wine by 2020.


New Zealand Imports #3

New Zealand became the third largest supplier of wines to the U.S. in 2016. New Zealand wine sales were $400 million for the year. Among imports they were surpassed only by Italy $1.96 billion and France $1.59 billion.

Kosher Wine Bar

Geoffrey Rochwarger and two partners have opened a Kosher Wine Bar in Rechavia, Israel. Corky's is the first wine bar in the country and is named for the collection of 370 Kosher wine corks on display. The restaurant features a wine list with 200 choices and a tasting list of 10 to 12 bottlings that changes each week.

Wine Waste to Wine Glasses

Architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello at the University of California, Berkeley are making wine goblets with a 3D printer using grape solid waste from winemaking. The goblets pictured above are made from and suitable for drinking red wine.

Chateau Angelus Fights Counterfeiting

Chateau Angelus has just released vintage 2014 ...with an ID chip in each bottle. Owner, Stephanie de Bouard, said that she wants to be proactive in protecting her brand.

3 Liter Red Blend for $50,000

A 3 liter bottle of Diane Wilson's Wilson Winery Dry Creek Red Blend sold for $50,000 at Houston's Rodeo Champion's Wine Auction and Dinner. The proceeds went to youth charities.


and You Thought You Had It to Yourself

AB/Inbev has introduced Bud Light, the U.S. #1 beer, in the UK with a record setting brand launch. The release is in response to surveys that show UK consumers want a beer with lighter taste, less calories, and lower alcohol. The UK version is 3.5% ABV offered in 440ml and 500ml packaging.


Bud the First Beer on Mars?

Budweiser announced that it was involved in space age research to develop a beer to be taken to Mars. NASA has a trip to the red planet planned for sometime in the next 15 years and Bud wants to be on board. Bud faces three difficulties in getting its beer in space. First, astronauts are not allowed to drink. Second, in zero gravity the bubbles don't rise to the top making the beer all foam. Third, if it is consumed in space, the bubbles won't rise in a burp, making the drinker feel bloated. If successful, the project could be one small sip for man; one giant gulp for mankind.

First Beer on the Moon?

Bud isn't alone in space. A group of graduate students at UC San Diego is competing to send a brewing experiment on a trip to the Moon next December. The experiment will find out how yeast acts in space. It will have to take place inside a sealed container because carbon dioxide can't be released inside the spacecraft.

Beer at 35,000 Feet

The sense of taste becomes less sensitive when air pressure is lower. It's been calibrated at a 30% loss. That is one of the reasons airplane food tastes dull. Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific Airline has with Hong Kong Brewing Co. to develop a beer that tastes better at 35,000 feet. The brewer won't reveal anything except it's “made with a combination of science and traditional brewing methods.”

Craft Brewers of the Year

There are now more than 5,200 small and independent Craft breweries. has announced the 21 winners of this year's voting for Great American Beer Bars 2017. The Crafty Fox Ale House in San Francisco was California's winner.

Walmart Sued For Craft Beer

Walmart is the subject of a Class Action lawsuit filed by Matthew Adam who lives in Ohio. The suit alleges that Walmart sells “Craft Beer” that is actually mass produced. The brands in question are Cat’s Away IPA, After Party Pale Ale, ‘Round Midnight Belgian White, and Red Flag Amber. The brands are sold in 3,000 Walmart stores in 45 states and carry the brewer name, Trouble Brewing. The suit alleges that this is a non-existent company and the real brewer is Genesee Brewing in Rochester, New York. The contention is that Genesee is a major brewer and the beers cannot be considered Craft Beer by definition; therefore consumers paid an unjustified premium price for the beer.

Hard Cider

Virginia Cider Flows

The state of Virginia is suddenly coming on line with oceans of Hard Cider, just as the national resurgence of cider drinking is cooling down. 19 cider makers have been licensed in the state. These Cider works will have to compete with others in New York and Washington State that are already splitting a mature market.


Auctioneer Exposes Counterfeiter

Whisky.Auction, a London online auction hose, uncovered a major spirits counterfeiting operation in Finchley, a London suburb. The auctioneers had gone to a home to inspect a number of rare bottles that were being consigned for auction. When they got there they saw hundreds of rare bottles and became suspicious of so many in one collection. While closely examining a few they found various irregularities. They knew they were looking at a highly sophisticated operation that was refilling older bottles with young spirits and re-labeling them. They reported their findings to the Metro Police who visited the property and arrested a 41 year old man and took bottles of Whisky, Rum, and other liquor worth “hundreds of thousands” of pounds as evidence. Whisky.Auction director, Isabel Graham-Yooll was credited with identifying the counterfeiting operation.

Jack Daniel's to Sponsor NBA, WNBA

Jack Daniel's is teaming up with the NBA and WNBA for a multi-year marketing contract. The brand will sponsor All Star Games and various team/consumer events throughout the year.

Time for the World's Oldest

Wealth Solutions and Louis Moinet, a Swiss watch maker, are making a watch with a few drops of Old Vatted Glenlivet 1862 Scotch Whisky in it. This is the world's oldest authenticated Scotch. Previous watches were made with drops of the oldest Cognac Gautier 1762, and oldest Harewood Rum 1780.

LA's Best Margaritas

TimeOut Los Angeles has named its 11 favorite Margaritas and where to get them. The Spiced Daisy at Las Perlas downtown; Margarita Verde at the Water Grill downtown; Margarita at Petty Cash on Beverly Blvd.; Purita at Gracias Madre West Hollywood; Muddled Fruit Margarita at Palmilla Cocina y Tequila in Hermosa Beach; Gran
Tradicional Margarita at El Cholo downtown; Jalapeño Margaita at La Cuevita in Highland Park; Spicy Mango Margarita at Cocina Condesa in Studio City; Ghost Rider at Toca Madera on West 3rd Street; Spicy Cucmber Margarita at Mercado on West 3rd Street; and Margarita at Guelaguestza in Koreatown.

What's in Your Gin?

...and finally Australia's The Something Wild Beverage Company is offering Green Ant Gin. The liquor is flavored with the same green ants that have been eaten by aborigines for centuries.

Other Foods and Beverages

Bottled Water #1

Bottled water passed carbonated beverages in sales for the first time in 2016.

Burger King Has a Taste for Chicken

Restaurant Brands, the owner of Burger King and Tim Horton's, has bought Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen for $1.8 billion. The purchase will add Popeye's 2,268 restaurants to Restaurant Brands more than 20,000 outlets.

U.S. Most Expensive Meal

Where can you get the most expensive restaurant meal in the country? Masa in New York. This sushi restaurant charges $595 a person. Where's the beef? That's an extra $150 if you order Ohmi Beef. Masayoshi Takayama's eatery in Time-Warner Center has a reputation for being worth the price.

There is a Free Lunch!

Do you remember eating a free meal on an airline flight? Well, guess what? Delta started serving meals to flyers in all classes of seats on March 1 on flights coast to coast to and from LAX & SFO and JFK! Plans are to add the feature to coast to coast flights from Boston, Seattle, and Washington DC.

You Can't Get Enough of a Good Thing

The makers of Twinkies are now offering the treat covered in batter and frozen so restaurants can deep fry them for customer desserts. Now a diner can enjoy a county fair deep fried dessert at a white table cloth restaurant!

Customer Preferences

The annual Market LOHAS Survey was released at the Natural Food Expo West. The survey is geared toward health conscious consumers. It showed that nearly 75% of those consumers stick to the store perimeter in a supermarket. Their purchases are influenced by labels that carry the words “natural,” “non-GMO,” “organic,” or “fresh.”

Good Mistake

The Bouche a Oreille bar and brasserie in Bourges, France accidentally was given a Michelin star. The star was intended for another restaurant in another town with the same name. Business is up.

Philly Soda Tax Update

Philadelphia's 1.5 cents per ounce soda tax brought in $5.7 million in its first month, January. It has added almost $1 to the price of a two liter bottle and $2.15 to a 12 pack of cans. The first month's revenue was expected to be light because existing inventory was exempt. $90 million is the anticipated annual total. Retailers, distributors, and union members are reportedly feeling a pinch. Customers are going across the city boundaries to save money. Danny Grace of Teamsters Local #830 is concerned about his 1,700 members that are drivers, salespersons, and merchandisers. Lower sales mean layoffs. Jeff Brown CEO of Phiadelphia's ShopRite chain says beverage sales are down 50% and overall sales are down 15%. “People didn't change what they drink. They changed where they are buying it.” He expects to cut 300 jobs in the months ahead.

Brave New World

Chinese company, Charoen Pokphand Group, in Beijing is using robot nurses to monitor the health of its 3 million egg laying hens. The sensor loaded robots gently wheel up and down the rows of chicken coops 12 hours a day checking the birds temperatures and other indicators. Farm hands follow the “nanny-robots” and remove sick hens from the coops to protect the health of the other birds.


The Changing Market

Women in Wine

Brock University in Canada has seen a change in new graduates entering the wine industry. Debra Inglis, Director of Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture at the school since 1999, says that as the industry and the university's program have become more science based, more of the students are women. Her first two classes were all male. The past 3 years graduates have been 58% female and this year's graduates are all women.

Food Deflation

The Consumer Price Index for January showed a 1.9% drop from a year earlier. The index, which is a gauge of at-home eating costs has declined for 14 straight months. Restaurant prices were up 2.4% from a year earlier.



Bourbon Burgers


1 ½ lbs Ground Beef

¼ Cup Beer

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 ½ ounce Bourbon Whiskey

2 teaspoons Garlic Powder

1 teaspoon Onion Powder

1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper



  1. Preheat BBQ to medium high heat. Lightly oil the grate.

  2. Mix all ingredients and form into 6 burgers.

  3. Cook until the color of the meat suits you. (5 to 8 minutes per side for well done) Inside temperature should reach 160 degrees for food safety.



Largest Study Finds Heart Benefits of Alcohol

Researchers at Cambridge University and University College London found that moderate drinkers had a lower risk of heart attacks, angina, and heart failure than teetotalers. The “most comprehensive study to date” examined the health records of more than 2 million people. At the beginning of the study none had heart disease, most did not smoke, none had diabetes, and all had normal BMI. “Collectively, our findings, from the most comprehensive study to date of the relation between alcohol consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, indicate that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of initially presenting with several, but not all, cardiovascular diseases.” Both teetotalers and heavy drinkers were found to have a higher risk of heart disease.

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.

Natural Foods Expo West

The Natural Foods Expo West still ranks among the biggest trade shows in the country. This year the Anaheim Convention Center held 3,100 exhibitors and hosted 80,000 attendees. We managed to find a number of products related to our industry among the throng.


You might think California's wine grapes all go into making great wines. Well, not quite all. The Wine Ray Zyn Co. makes raisins out of them. For good reason; wine grape raisins have 45 times the antioxidants of Green Tea and 25 times those in red wine. There are three varieties: Cabernezyns (from Cabernet), Merlayzyns (from Merlot), and Chardonazyns (from Chardonnay). 1.6 oz packages retail for $2.99 and 8 oz packages for $9.99. Contact Darren Buck at or (415) 806-5057, Andrew Cates at or (707) 251-1600, David Capossela at or (520) 437-1253.


We tasted Kikusui Organic Junmai Ginjo Sake. It was clean, clear, bright, and refreshing with a hint of honeysuckle, banana, and honeydew. It is the first organic Sake brewed in Japan and shipped to the U.S. This Sake has been brewed since 1881. 720ml $35. Distributed in California by Mutual Trading Company.

Regrained invited us to “eat beer.” The company makes snack bars from the Spent Grain left from the brewing process. Two flavors are currently available; Honey Cinnamon IPA and Coffee Chocolate Stout. Retail $1.99. Contact Daniel Kurzrock at or (650) 888-1179 or Jordan Schwartz at or (650) 888-3492.


Owl's Brew is a combination of Beer (60%) and Tea (40%) designed by Jennie Ripps and Maria Littlefield. This refreshing beverage comes in four flavors: That's My Jam, Blondie, Short and Stout, and Wicked Watermelon. Natural flavors sweetened with agave, 3.8% ABV. 6 /12 oz cans retail $10.99. Contact


Suckerpunch Bloody Mary Mix was created by David van Alphen. David makes his own pickles and found that the pickle juice added to tomato juice acts first as a natural preservative and then gives a unique flavor to one of the best Bloody Mary mixes. We tasted it and it's really good. 32 oz bottles retail for $4.99. Distributed by Kehe, UNFI, and DPI. Contact David van Alphen at or (312) 560-2215.


Powell & Mahoney offered carbonated mixes: Ginger Beer, Blood Orange Ginger Beer, Mojito, and Tonic. Delicious and refreshing non-alcoholic mixes 4/12 oz retail for $5.99. Distributed by Southern-Glazer, UNFI, and Kehe. Contact Chris Crandall at or (617) 216-4089.


Bonterra Wines poured organic wines. Sauvignon Blanc 2015, bright with notes of citrus, dry, fresh, $14. Chardonnay 2015, soft, bright, fresh, 30% aged in new oak and 70% in stainless, a bargain at $14. Merlot 2014, fruity, full body, good nose and dark color, $16. Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, soft, drinking young – will peak in 5 years, dark color, big nose, $16. All are excellent buys and will make your customers happy. Contact Rodrigo Maturana at or (707) 670-0115.


Olli is an Italian Salami maker. They rate a mention here because they offer a very useful pairing chart that matches salami, wine, beer, and food. It's too extensive to reprint here. But we recommend that you look it over and bookmark it for future reference.

Great Wines of Italy 2017

James Suckling Presented Great Wines of Italy 2017 at the Montage in Beverly Hills. He did an outstanding job of organizing and rating the many great wines. Unfortunately, there were far too many to record here. This was an adventure and we highly recommend attending his future events. All things considered, these Italian wines offer good values compared to the general market. Here are just a few of the best.


Castelli del Grevepesa Chianti Classico Clemente VII Riserva 2013, 100% Sangiovese, good balance, medium body, intense ruby color and good nose, 92 points. $18-$20. Contact . Distributed by Fabulous Wines Inc. (562) 945-3927.


San Polino Brunello di Montalcino 2011, 100% Sangiovese, certified organic and biodynamic, soft, full body, round, dark cherry flavors, deep color and good nose, 92 points, $59.99. Contact Katie Nussbaum or Ramin Dabirian at Vitis Inports or (310) 674-1112.


Poggio la Noce Gigetto 2014, red with intense currant and berry flavors, Sangiovese, good color and nose, very approachable food wine, will peak in 3-5 years, 93 points, $25-$30. Poggio la Noce Gigio 2013, Sangiovese, very full body, will age and become elegant, 92 points, $60. This was by far the best wine we tasted at the event. Self distributed, contact Claire Beliard or (206) 369-3620.

Springboard Wine/Valkyrie Selections

This distributor offers an outstanding collection of wines. For all the wines in this group contact Lisa Wherry (760) 880-8700 or Elane Wood (917) 699-3761.


Tendil and Lombardi Champagne, a grower Champagne from Laurent Tendil and Stephane Lombardi, Blanc de Blancs NV, 100% Chardonnay, dry, yeasty, creamy, 12% ABV, 9gr/l dosage, $45. Blanc de Noirs NV, 100% Pinot Noir, dry, yeasty, creamy, 12% ABV, 8gr/l dosage, $45. Both are very good buys at this price.


Hattingley Valley “British Fizz”, planted in '06 & '08 by Simon and Nicola Robinson, this is the first of its pedigree that we tasted and we were impressed. Classic Reserve NV, dry, yeasty, $45. Blanc de Blancs 2011, dry, yeasty, clean, elegant, $69. Contact Gareth Maxwell, Export Manager .

Domitia Picpoul de Pinet 2015, 100% Picpoul, a white from Pomerols in southern France, clear, good nose, good balance, good food wine, easy drinking, $12.


Milou, from Aix en Provence, Chardonnay 2016, clean, clear, classic, good food wine, a best buy at $9.99. Rouge 2014, 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah, a good solid table wine, good balance, good with food, red color, light nose, a best buy at $9.99.


Botijo Rojo, limited production garage wine from Valdejalon in northeast Spain. Garnacha 2014, 100% Garnacha, good color and nose, 14% ABV, a best buy at $12. Garnacha Viñas Viejas 2013, from 65 year old vines, 100% Garnacha, very fruity, full body, good color and nose, 14% ABV, a best buy at $18.


Màs Que Vinos, Ercavio Tempranillo Rose' 2016, 100% Tempranillo, fruity, big nose, light pink color, stainless, 12.5% ABV, a best buy at $9.99. Ercavio Tempranillo 2014, 100% Tempranillo, good color and nose, full body, this is a big wine, 14% ABV, a best buy at $11.99.


Industry Calendar

3/27-29 Night Club & Bar Show – Las Vegas

3/29 Northern California Fresh Produce Expo - Pleasanton

4/1 Garagiste Wine Festival – Santa Ynez Valley

4/3 Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois – Marina del Rey

4/6 Monsant Tasting - LA

4/7-8 Signature Sonoma Valley - Sonoma

4/8 VinDiego – San Diego

4/11-17 Passover

4/14 Good Friday

4/16 Easter

4/21 Sonoma County Barrel Auction - Sonoma

4/22 Santa Barbara Grand Tasting – Santa Barbara

4/22 Earth Day Food & Wine – Paso Robles

4/23-25 Responsible Retailing Conference – SFO

4/25 Spring to Loire - SFO

5/ TBA JFC Sake & Food Expo

5/ TBA Craft Beverage Expo - Oakland

5/5 Cinco de Mayo

5/6 Kentucky Derby

5/6-10 WAFC – Palm Desert

5/7 Masters of Taste – Pasadena

5/10 Elevating Zinfandel - LA

5/10 Mexican Mothers Day

5/13 Central Coast Cider Festival - Atascadero

5/14 Mothers Day

5/15 Santa Barbara Tasting - LA

5/15-21 American Craft Beer Week

5/27-6/25 Ramadan


Promotional Calendar

4/1 April Fool's Day

4/7 National Beer Day

4/7 Good Friday

4/9 International Gin & Tonic Day

4/9 Palm Sunday

4/10-18 Passover

4/16 Easter Sunday

4/19 National Amaretto Day


New Legislation for 2017

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!

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