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Larger-than-life wine collection nets $1.2 million

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) – Lloyd Flatt was a man who lived life large and had a passion for large bottles of wine. One of those bottles - a six-liter Methuselah of Romanee Conti 1976 sold for $42,350 at Sotheby's New York more than double its presale estimate.

Flatt, an eye-patch sporting American who began collecting wine long before there were wine critics and magazines such as the Wine Spectator, died in January 2008 after amassing a collection that became almost as famous as he was.

The total sale of his some 1,500 bottles netted more than $1.18 million, handily beating the $573,000-$824,000 pre-sale estimate range at the auction Saturday. Sotheby's said the winner of the Methuselah   Read more...

Wine Country sounds alarm over grapevine moth

 The monster that is threatening to turn premium Napa Valley wine into rotting slime was quickly plucked out from underneath the peeling bark of a grapevine.

The white cocoon containing the beast was barely large enough to cover biologist Monica Cooper's fingertip, but its presence is no more welcome in Wine Country than pod people from outer space.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of European grapevine moths are now emerging from cocoons in dozens of vineyards in the heart of the world famous wine-growing region. It is the first time the pest has ever been seen in North America.

"This one is in the pupal stage," said Cooper, Napa County's viticulture farm adviser and the director of the UC Cooperative Extension   Read more... 

Ale lover claims he brews world's bitterest beer

British brewer Peter Fowler, has made the world's most bitter beer after a friend challenged him to produce a record-breaking tipple.

Tests showed that Mr Fowler's creation, "The Hop", registered 323 International Bittering Units (IBUs), beating the previous record of 200 held by American beer Devil Dance Triple IPA.

Mr Fowler, 58, who runs the Pitstop Brewery in Stove, near Wantage, Oxon., said: ''It is always nice to beat the Americans and put a British flag on the bitterest pint.

''To be honest, I can only drink it in halves. To finish an evening, it is fine, but the taste lasts with me for four hours at a time.''   Read more...

Fess Parker, Actor and Santa Barbara Vintner, Dies at 85

Fess Parker, a TV icon of the 1950s and '60s who later helped Santa Barbara raise its profile as a world-class wine region, has died. He was 85. Parker had been in failing health in recent months and was under hospice care at his home in the Santa Ynez Valley when he passed away this morning.

The Texas-born Parker first made his name during the dawn of the TV era playing Davy Crockett, serialized on the popular Disneyland show. Parker and the show became so popular in the mid-1950s that boys across America wore his trademark coonskin cap. Parker followed that in the 1960s with a successful run on TV's Daniel Boone.

By the late 1970s, Parker was focusing on real-estate investment in Santa Barbara and developed numerous projects over the years  Read more...

MillerCoors to Test New Beer Based on Pre-Prohibition Recipe

CHICAGO—Brewing giant MillerCoors LLC plans to test-market a new beer called Batch 19, which is based on a pre-Prohibition recipe, as part of several initiatives aimed at rejuvenating sales in the sluggish U.S. market.

MillerCoors will start selling the new brew next month in draft in bars and restaurants in Chicago, Milwaukee, San Francisco and Washington, said Peter Swinburn, chief executive of Molson Coors Brewing Co., which co-owns MillerCoors.

Mr. Swinburn said in an interview that Batch 19—named for the year, 1919, before Prohibition began—is designed to attract consumers looking for "a true, authentic, original beer." He said Keith Villa, master brewer at MillerCoors, found a recipe in the archives of Coors Brewing Co. Read more...

US Craft Beer Sales Up In 2009

Boulder, CO (March 8, 2010) - The Brewers Association, the trade association that tabulates production statistics for US breweries, today released 2009 data on the U.S. craft brewing industry. In a year when other brewers saw a slowdown in sales, small and independent craft brewers saw sales dollars increase 10.3 percent and volume increase 7.2 percent over 2008, representing a growth of 613,992 barrels equal to roughly 8.5 million cases.

Overall, U.S. beer sales were down approximately 5 million barrels (31 gallons per U.S. barrel) in 2009.

"Beer lovers continue to find great value and enjoyment in fuller flavored craft beers," said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. "Americans have an increasing appreciation of craft beers  Read more...

Wine-Drinking Women May Gain Less Weight

(CBS) New research suggests women who drink a moderate amount of alcohol on a regular basis, particularly when red wine is the drink of choice, are less likely to experience long-term weight gain than non-drinkers. 

The study, conducted by researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, surveyed almost 20,000 women and asked them about their drinking habits over the course of 13 years. The alcohol-free women gained the most weight.

The research, published Monday in the American Medical Association's Archives of Internal Medicine, says there's no clear link between alcohol consumption and weight gain -- a claim that flies in the face of long-held medical thinking. 

Experts, however, are quick to remind women 

New York looks to wine sales to close budget gap

Reporting from New York - Quick, which of the following is not allowed in New York: riding the subway without pants, performing a play in public while naked, or buying wine at the grocery store?

If you chose the last option, perhaps you've been following one of the liveliest debates to emerge from otherwise dry budget talks in the state capital, Albany, where politicians struggling with a dire fiscal crisis see wine as an antidote.

New York remains one of 15 states that limit wine sales to liquor stores. But the proposed 2010-11 budget would open sales to grocery stores to generate an estimated $250 million in revenue from new liquor licenses.

In this bastion of liberalism -- home to the city that never sleeps, a burgeoning local wine industry, and a mainly urban populace  Read more...

The Rocker Makes Wine: Maynard James Keenan defies expectations

Maynard James Keenan, one of rock's most enigmatic personalities, is having the time of his life these days not only as leader of the hydra-headed project Puscifer but also as a winemaker. Gone, at least in public, is the angst-ridden man we saw fronting the megasuccessful Tool and A Perfect Circle, bands that redefined heavy alternative rock.

A bawdy group with a rotating cast, the musical part of Puscifer resumed its multimedia U.S. tour in Atlanta on Tuesday. The winemaking Mr. Keenan appears in "Blood into Wine," a documentary that had its Feb. 19 premiere in Scottsdale, Ariz., about two hours south of this former mining center and ghost town that's home to his Caduceus Cellars and Merkin vineyards as well as his handsome wine-tasting room and his Puscifer store, which sells distinctive clothing and other branded materials.  Read more...

Store beer in a wine-like cave? Southern California gives it a try

To grab a beer, Israel Arrieta doesn't just stroll to the fridge; he has to walk out his back door to the side of the house, where he pries a chicken-wire screen off a basement window and scrambles, crab position, down a wooden ladder.

Several minutes later, he emerges cradling half a dozen cool, dusty bottles of beer.

Arrieta, 27, keeps his beer in the closest thing to a cave: the crawl space under his parents' North Pasadena house. To test it out years ago, he crawled down on a 100-degree afternoon holding a thermometer. It read 60 degrees.

"Light and temperature are going to be your enemies," Read more...