MECKLENBURG ABC CHAIRMAN “WILL NOT RESIGN”
After reports and accusations surfaced weeks ago that a Diageo employee wined and dined several employees of the North Carolina Mecklenburg County ABC Board, chairman Parks Helms is declining to step down. You’ll recall that local paper Charlotte Observer unveiled that the Diageo rep spent $12,700 on the dinner in November at Del Frisco's steakhouse for 28 ABC Board employees and their guests. After news accounts, ABC employees and Helms repaid $9,334. Parks was the only Mecklenburg ABC director at the dinner
In the latest news, fellow ABC directors sent an email to Parks asking him to resign immediately “in the best interests of the Mecklenburg County ABC system.” They hoped to restore the county’s reputation and basically start over. In response he said that he “carefully considered your request that I resign as Chairman of the ABC Board so that you could ‘…begin to restore trust in the system and its management by the public,'” Helms wrote in an e-mail. ‘I respectfully disagree… and will not resign.”
On Monday Mecklenburg County commissioners chair Jennifer Roberts said: “I would hope that Parks would give it serious consideration to remove himself… so we can all focus on the issues going forward.” Two groups have the power to fire him: the Mecklenburg County commissioners and the state ABC Commission. A spokeswoman from the state ABC commission told the paper that conversations are ongoing between the two. Interestingly, Parks was a former chairman of the Mecklenburg County commissioners.
Last week Alcohol Law Enforcement agents issued a report alleging that Diageo, its North Carolina marketing director and the Mecklenburg ABC Board violated laws on giving and accepting anything of value. Since then the North Carolina ABC commission has launched a statewide investigation of other possible violations in Asheville, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and others. The violations range from overpaying employees to accepting gifts.
DOES THE WINE ADVOCATE PAY FOR MOST OF THE WINES IT REVIEWS?
Tyler Colman, publisher of Dr. Vino wine blog, wrote an interesting post yesterday questioning whether Robert Parker’s publication, The Wine Advocate, actually buys “more than 60%” of the wine they review as he claims. The Wine Advocate reviewed 16,474 wines last year with many bottles costing several hundred dollars a pop. Tyler did some math [editor’s note: check out the article to see his method] and estimated that it would cost Parker over $700,000 a year. The Wine Advocate also has 6 contributing writers “all of whom are presumably drawing salaries from The Wine Advocate.”
Marvin Shanken has admitted in the past that Wine Spectator, which has more subscribers and “much” higher revenues than Wine Advocate, depends on free samples. A former assistant to Parker told the New York Times in 2006 that most of the wines he sampled were free but Parker later dismissed that claim on his message board.
Tyler admitted that “unless Parker decides to release audited figures, there is no way of knowing whether or not he is buying ‘more than 60 percent’ of the wines that are reviewed in The Wine Advocate. I just thought it might be useful, in light of the discussion concerning this issue, to try to come up with some numbers.”
NEW YORK TARGETS UNLICENSED VENDORS SELLING FRUITY VODKA DRINKS TO KIDS
New York legislators are proposing 60 days in jail and harsher fines for barbershops and bodegas selling fruit drinks mixed with vodka to kids as young as 14. The concoctions are called “nutcrackers” or “nemos” if they’re frozen, and sell for $5-$10 a cup, the Daily News first reported. Besides selling to minors, most of the stores that sell nutcrackers don’t have a liquor license, which means the State Liquor Authority can’t prosecute them. Police also lack the resources in high crime areas, which is where most of this activity takes place. The legislation will be introduced by Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat in the senate. These criminals, who are most prevalent across upper Manhattan and the Bronx, could face losing their stores under the proposed legislation. Right now police only fine stores $200-$1,000 for selling alcohol to minors.
OREGON’S 2009 HARVEST EXPECTED TO OUTGROW 2008
Results from a survey of Oregon’s top 20 wine producers suggests the 2009 vintage will be well above what it was in 2008, according to the News Register. Last year’s tonnage came in at 34,700, down -11% from 38,600 in 2007. The survey found that the state’s 20 largest wineries accounted for an estimated 1.53 million cases in 2009 as compared to 1.17 million cases in 2008. The top producer was King Estate, followed by the combined operation of A to Z/Rex Hill and Willamette Valley Vineyards.
WALGREENS AIMING TO SELL BEER AND WINE IN SAN FRANCISCO
Since announcing that Walgreens will again sell alcohol in places where it is legal, the company is facing some opposition in a major city – San Francisco. Walgreens is in talks with the city to sell wine and beer in 34 of its 64 locations amid concerns that it could hurt certain neighborhoods and small businesses. Approximately two-thirds of those 34 stores are in high crime areas with an already high concentration of stores that sell alcohol. San Francisco recently made it illegal for chain drugstores to sell tobacco items. Walgreens sued the city over the ban and lost – an appeal is pending. A local law requires new licensees to acquire a permit from a business already selling alcohol to help prevent over-consumption.
NEW YORK WINE INDUSTRY GENERATES BILLIONS FOR THE STATE
The New York grape, grape juice and wine industries contributed over $3.76 billion in economic benefits to the economy of New York State in 2008, according to a study conducted by the Napa Valley-based Stonebridge Research Group. This is an increase of over 10% from the $3.4 billion documented in an identical 2004 study conducted by Barbara Insel, who now heads Stonebridge. The new study also shows that out-of-state wines sold in New York contributed an additional $3.26 billion, for a total economic benefit to the state of $7.02 billion from the grape and wine industries. To read more, click here.
AUSTRALIAN BULK WINE TAKES SHARE IN ’09
Bulk wine made up 39% of Australia’s exports last year, up from 26% in 2008, according to new figures from the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation. Bulk wine grew by 119 million liters while bottled wine shipments declined by 53 million liters. Total wine exports grew 9% in volume. The Australian wine business suffers from over-supply, a strengthened Australian dollar and increased competition in its export markets.
REMY COINTREAU TO IMPORT ZUBROWKA VODKA
Central European Distribution Corporation has appointed Remy Cointreau USA to distribute Zubrowka Bison Grass vodka in the US, which is produced by CEDC in Poland. It reportedly derives its flavor from “bison grass,” a plant found in northern Poland. CEDC is the largest vodka producer in Poland and Russia and produces such brands as Green Mark and Absolwent.
WIRTZ BEVERAGE ILLINOIS has hired Lynn McCarthy as director of training. She will develop and execute all employee and leadership training programs and report to Mark Switaj in his new role as vp of training and development, Wirtz Beverage Group.
NEW JERSEY LEGISLATORS have passed a law (AB 3073/SB 1926) that would require first time DUI high blood alcohol content offenders to use ignition interlock devices if passed into law. Diageo issued a statement saying it supports the legislation.
ASCENTIA WINE ESTATES ceo Jim DeBonis has appointed Todd Devincenzi as chief sales and marketing officer. The two worked together at Allied Domecq and Beam Wine Estates, according to a statement. Todd most recently worked for C. Mondavi & Sons as their vp of sales.
INTERESTING FACT: BROWN-FORMAN REPS rang the closing bell New Year’s Eve and toasted the decade and New Year with a Korbel and Chambord champagne cocktail along with 1,100 traders.
Until tomorrow, Megan
A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.
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