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

News Briefs for July 2, 2012

July 2, 2012

•Diageo has appointed Ivan Menezes to its board as an executive director, effective today. Menezes began his tenure as Diageo’s COO on March 1 and is now widely viewed as the top internal candidate to succeed the drinks giant’s current CEO, Paul Walsh.

•Napa’s Bialla Vineyards, a decade-old boutique Cabernet producer that made a 95-point wine from the 2009 vintage, has been sold for $3.2 million to a Chinese business executive whose name hasn’t yet been disclosed, reports Wine Spectator. The purchase—the latest in a string of Chinese investments in Napa—includes the winery on Atlas Peak, its 22 acres of vineyards planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and the wine from the 2010 and 2011 vintages. The 2009 vintage is the final one being sold by founders Vito Bialla, owner of global executive recruiter Bialla & Associates, and his wife, Linda. The new owner, whom Bialla says is a “high-profile technology executive,” intends to create a new brand from the winery to sell in China.

•New Jersey-based importer and marketer Vision Wine & Spirits is introducing a new Spanish wine brand, Abduction. Selling for around $9.99 a 750-ml. bottle, Abduction’s line includes Galactic White, made from 100% Airen; and Cosmic Red, a blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. Created by sci-fi enthusiast Robb Jacobs, Abduction features an alien on its label and will focus its promotional attention on sci-fi events and media as well as traditional avenues.

Anheuser-Busch has entered a licensing and sponsorship agreement with the St. Louis Cardinals and Baltimore, Maryland-based development firm Cordish Companies to open a restaurant in the new $650 million Ballpark Village development adjacent to Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The 25,000-square-foot Anheuser-Busch-branded restaurant will feature German-style cuisine, more than 100 domestic and import draft beers and an outdoor beer garden. Construction of Ballpark Village, which will span six city blocks of downtown St. Louis, is slated to begin later this year.

•Celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian has partnered with Norwegian Cruise Line to open a fine-dining seafood restaurant called Ocean Blue on the company’s Norwegian Breakaway ship, which is slated to debut in May 2013 and will sail out of New York. In addition to Ocean Blue, chef Zakarian will also oversee an adjacent wine and seafood bar called The Raw Bar, and a more casual version of Ocean Blue on The Waterfront, the ship’s restaurant-lined boardwalk area. The 4,000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway will feature more than a dozen restaurants, as well as numerous bars, shops, and entertainment and gaming venues.


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