Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for November 8, 2012

November 8, 2012

•Northeast restaurants are fighting back after Hurricane Sandy, Wine Spectator reports. The storm devastated large parts of the region; now restaurateurs, wine retailers and wineries are assessing damages and serving their customers as best they can. Wine Spectator has updates from a host of top New York and New Jersey operations, including Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, Jean-Georges restaurant group, Eataly, Babbo, Tribeca Grill, Brooklyn’s River Café and others.

•The Wine Institute says California’s 2012 wine harvest totaled 3.7 million tons, up roughly 12% from 3.3 million tons last year. The harvest total was roughly in line with predictions earlier in the season. Winemakers across California reported strong quality for the vintage, and relief at the increase in volume from last year. A string of relatively light harvests has resulted in a shortage, causing grape prices to soar in recent months, with the price of Cabernet Sauvignon roughly doubling.

•Diageo’s Crown Royal Canadian whisky is jumping into the thriving flavored whisk(e)y segment with a new maple-finished offering. Made via a proprietary “maple toasted oak” finishing process, Crown Royal Maple Finished is now in national distribution, retailing around $24.99 a 750-ml. Diageo says the new product will be backed with “a full marketing mix, including television, print and online advertising.” The flavored whisk(e)y segment has exploded over the past year, with entries like Jim Beam Red Stag, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Evan Williams Honey and Cherry Reserves and Wild Turkey American Honey enjoying strong momentum. Diageo said Crown Royal’s North American volume slipped 4% in the 12 months through June.

•Napa Valley’s Yao Family Wines, founded by former NBA star Yao Ming, has entered the U.S. wine market with the debut of two wines. The company will release Yao Ming 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($170 a 750-ml.) and Yao Ming 2009 Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($625) to select retailers across the country. Distribution will be led by the Regal Wine Company in California, as well as other select wholesalers in additional markets. Yao Family Wines launched first in mainland China last year. The company produced about 5,000 cases of the Napa Valley Cabernet and fewer than 500 cases of the Family Reserve for the 2009 vintage.

•Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten plans to convert the 8,500-square-foot basement of ABC Carpet & Home in New York City’s Flatiron District into an artisanal food market offering local products and fare. The building also houses Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen and his forthcoming ABC Cocina, expected to open in February 2013. Details about the name of Vongerichten’s new market concept and its opening date have yet to be released.

•Fast-casual dining chain Chipotle Mexican Grill is introducing craft beer to select Chicago locations. Fifteen Chicago Chipotle units will begin offering two beers from local microbrewery 5 Rabbit Cerveceria. If this initial rollout is successful, the company plans to add craft beer selections to an additional 75 Chicago units.


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