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

News Briefs for July 8, 2011

July 8, 2011

•Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has launched a new wine program at its San Francisco Seasons Restaurant, featuring more than 500 wines and various special offers for guests. Diners can now peruse the restaurant’s wine list on iPad menus using the SmartCellar menu technology developed by hospitality technology group Incentient. The menus feature detailed descriptions of each wine, including the hotel’s new private label offering, Seasons Cabernet Sauvignon from Fisher Vineyards, available exclusively at Four Seasons San Francisco. Seasons Restaurant also unveiled two new promotional efforts: the 50/50 deal on Wednesdays and Cellar Celebrations on Tuesdays. The 50/50 deal offers guests any of Seasons’ 50 Cabernet Sauvignon labels at 50% off, while Cellar Celebrations offers diners complimentary corkage. The Seasons Bar and Lounge is also continuing its Seasons Swirl wine tasting series ($45 per guest) on select Tuesday evenings, showcasing top California wines.

•Private equity firm Golden Gate Capital has purchased Los Angeles-based restaurant chain California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) for approximately $470 million. Under the deal, Golden Gate’s CPK Merger Sub Inc. will acquire 88% of CPK’s tendered shares, merging both groups under the umbrella of Golden Gate subsidiary CPK Holdings Inc. The CPK acquisition adds 205 restaurants and 60 franchised or licensed outposts to Golden Gate’s existing restaurant properties, which include the On the Border Mexican Grill and Romano’s Macaroni Grill chains. CPK, founded in 1985, has a drinks menu that currently features beer, sangria, cocktails and roughly 30 wine options.

•The Illinois Supreme Court is set to rule Monday on a lawsuit brought by Wirtz Beverage against the state’s 2009 Capital Bill, which raised $31 billion for construction projects through higher taxes on beer, wine and spirits and the legalization of video gambling, among other initiatives. Wirtz objects to the packaging of what it believes are disparate issues within the wide-ranging bill—saying it violates the Illinois constitution’s “single subject” rule—as well as its greater tax hikes on wine and spirits in relation to beer. Wirtz’s argument prevailed in a state appellate court in January, but the state government appealed the decision. On Monday, the wholesaler—which does over $1 billion in wine and spirits distributing annually in Illinois—will find out whether taxes collected under the bill, currently being held in escrow, will be returned.

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