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News Briefs for December 20, 2012

December 20, 2012

•South African wine exports were up 18.3% to 409 million liters for the 12 months through November 2012, according to data from the South African Wine Industry Information & Systems (SAWIS) trade group. The growth was driven in part by a rise in bulk wine exports—which accounted for roughly 246 million liters—as well as an increase in white wine sales. For the 12 months through October 2012, domestic South African sales grew 2.4% to 319.3 million liters. Meanwhile, South African wine producers are predicting a larger-than-normal grape crop of 1.38 million metric tons for 2013, due primarily to favorable weather conditions. Although that number would mark a 0.8% decline from this year’s harvest of 1.39 million tons, it could still potentially be the third-largest crop in the country’s history, says SAWIS.

•The board of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB) has unanimously elected Olivier Bernard to succeed Sylvie Cazes as president of the group. Bernard manages his family estate, Domaine de Chevalier in the Pessac-Léognan appellation, and is also managing director of his family firm, Financière Bernard. The UGCB has 134 members and holds more than 80 international events a year, attended by some 35,000 trade professionals and journalists as well as 11,000 consumers.

•Islay single malt Bowmore has sold the first bottle of its 1957 vintage to an anonymous U.S. buyer for £100,000 ($160,000). The bottle of Bowmore 1957, one of only 12 produced, was sold at the Bowmore Distillery on Islay. Profits from the sale will be donated to five Scottish charities: Alzheimer Scotland; The Beatson Oncology Centre; Chas (children’s hospice services); Erskine (medical care for Armed Forces); and Marie Curie Cancer Care. Nine bottles of Bowmore 1957 remain on sale at the Bowmore Distillery; two others will be kept in the Morrison Bowmore archives.

Darden Restaurants Inc. has reported a sales rise of 7% for the second quarter ended November 25, 2012, to $1.96 billion. Sales growth was propelled primarily by the company’s higher-end Specialty Restaurant Group, which was up 76.4% to $241 million and includes The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and Eddie V’s concepts, as well as the recently added Yard House chain. For primary chains Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse, however, same-restaurant sales were down 3.2%, 2.7% and 0.8% respectively. Consequently, Darden’s second-quarter profit was down 37% on the same period last year, falling from $53.7 million to $33.6 million.

•Chicago-based restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You has announced plans to open a new restaurant in Hollywood in 2013. The concept will be called Stella & Vine, but no further details were disclosed. Lettuce Entertain You owns and operates dozens of restaurant concepts throughout Chicago, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, and Washington, D.C., as well as two in Santa Monica, California: M Street Kitchen and Stella Rossa Pizza Bar. The chef of Stella Rossa Pizza Bar, Jeff Mahin, was recently named one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30,” an annual round-up of the most influential and innovative young people across 15 industries.

•Georgi vodka has brought back its candy cane-flavored extension in time for the holidays. The seasonal was first introduced in late 2011. In addition to its core Georgi vodka, the portfolio also includes an extensive lineup of year-round and seasonal flavor extensions, including Blueberry, Bubble Gum, Expresso Coffee, Popcorn, Watermelon and Whipped Cream, among others. Georgia vodka is made by Syosset, New York-based Star Industries.


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