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Wine In The News

Peter Mondavi Turns 99

Peter Mondavi Sr. is one year away from a perfect score. As the 99-year-young patriarch of the family approaches the centennial mark, he finds his Charles Krug Winery making its best wines in decades.

Peter’s 99th birthday was celebrated Nov. 23, as part of the unveiling of the historic redwood cellar and hospitality center at the 150-year-old winery, which has been under a multimillion-dollar renovation for seven years. “We’re bringing ourselves up to date,” said Peter. The new center marks the latest step in the right direction for the family and winery, which has seen its success fluctuate in recent years.

 

Wente To Hit 700,000 Cases This Year, Eyes Million-Case Milestone

Celebrating its 130th anniversary this year as a family-owned winery, Wente Vineyards reports sales volume running 17% ahead of 2012. The Livermore, California-based winemaker expects shipments to reach 700,000 cases overall this year, up from about 600,000 cases in 2012 and 500,000 cases in 2011.

Eric Wente, the company’s 62-year-old chairman, told SND that at the current rate of new vineyard plantings, the company should reach the 1-million-case threshold within five years. Wente owns some 2,800 acres spread between Livermore and holdings in Monterey County’s Arroyo Seco district. In the past three years Eric’s son, Karl, the fifth generation of the family in the business as a winemaker, has added 160 acres of new plantings.

 

Cameron Hughes Plans New Brand Line, Expects Big Year In 2014

San Francisco-based negoçiant Cameron Hughes tells SND his company has big plans for 2014, including the launch of a new brand line, the Cameron Hughes Collection, which will sit outside the group’s core Lot Series. While the Lot Series is focused on one-off wines that disappear from the market once they run out of stock, the Cameron Hughes Collection will be continuously available.

Set to launch next February with a Monterey Chardonnay and a Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon, the Cameron Hughes Collection will add a Pinot Noir next fall. The wines will retail at $15 and below. While the Cameron Hughes Collection will start with a California-based portfolio, Hughes says he may add international wines looking ahead, citing Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and Prosecco from Fruili as two potential candidates.

 

Accused Wine Counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan Guilty in Landmark Case

Rudy Kurniawan did something unprecedented in the world of rare wines in 2006. An Acker, Merrall & Condit auction of his wines raised $24.7 million, the largest total ever for a single consignor. Yesterday, Kurniawan set another precedent. A federal jury pronounced him guilty of fraud for selling counterfeit wines and defrauding a finance company, making the 37-year-old Indonesian the first person tried and convicted for selling fake wines in the U.S.

Wearing an ill-fitting gray suit, Kurniawan stood tight-lipped, with his hands crossed in front of him, as a middle-aged woman, the forewoman for a 12-person jury, read the verdict. He gave no reaction. His lawyers did not look at him. The jury deliberated for about an hour and 45 minutes before returning at 10:55 a.m. with the decision.

Burgundy winemaker Laurent Ponsot, who has attended each day of the proceedings, told Wine Spectator after the verdict, “I feel no pity for him. It’s good justice.”

 

Jackson Family Wine Estates Buys Napa Valley’s Yverdon Vineyard And Winery

Jackson Family Wines has acquired the Yverdon Vineyard and Winery, located in the Spring Mountain District AVA in Napa Valley, from Terra Valentine owners Angus and Margaret Wurtele.

The transaction includes the 77-acre property and the Yverdon vineyard, winery and villa—but does not include the Terra Valentine brand or Wurtele Vineyard. Terra Valentine will continue under its current ownership and management.

Jackson Family Wines chairman and proprietor Barbara Banke said the company plans to make Yverdon the future home for its Lokoya wines and will use the vineyard for its limited production Lokoya Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon.

Terra Valentine will continue to produce its signature Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon and its other wines, and it will move to a new location in St. Helena this spring. The wines will continue to be distributed by The San Francisco Wine Exchange.

The deal marks Jackson Family Wines’ first acquisition on Spring Mountain. Terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed.

 

Wally’s Auctions Joins The New York Market With Big First Sale

Wally’s Auctions with Crush Wines conducted their inaugural sale in New York on Nov. 13. Held at Untitled, the restaurant of the Whitney Museum of Art, where megachef Wolfgang Puck prepared a gala dinner for more than 200 registered bidders, the auction brought in $2.69 million against a presale estimate of $2 million to $3 million and was 95% sold. With the showing, the six-month old startup entered the ranks of auction heavyweights virtually overnight. A superlot containing 33 bottles of the Vosne Romanée vineyards of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti from the 2010 vintage was the sale’s showstopper. It fetched $132,000 against the Wine Spectator Auction Index average of $83,268.

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