The Wine Institute Elects Chris Fehrnstrom as Board Chairman

Plus other news and notes from the world of wine, spirits and beer.


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At the Wine Institute’s 79th Annual Meeting of Wine Institute in Santa Barbara, California, the public policy advocacy association announced the election of its 2013–2014 Board Chairman, Chris Fehrnstrom, chief marketing officer of Constellation Brands' Wine & Spirits Division. Representing 1,000 California wineries, Wine Institute’s membership accounts for 95 percent of the state’s wine production and 85 percent of total U.S. production.

According to French news sources, two hailstorms hit the town of Tours in Vouvray on Monday morning, causing widespread damage to vineyard crops. On Twitter, some users are posting photos of hailstones the size of eggs. In an interview with newspaper Ouest France, Christian Feray, winemaker at Château Moncontour, said, “This is a disaster. The storm last[ed] about ten minutes…On Vouvray and Reugny, vineyards are 100 percent destroyed.” This is the second year storms have ravaged the region. Last year, some producers lost 50 percent of their crop. This year’s damage is still being assessed but seems certain to affect the region’s production.

Looking for a special someone to share a bottle of Krug with? Newly launched dating site VineaLove promises to help. Created by former wine journalist Françoise Pauly, oenophiles can log on to the site and mingle with other users through its messaging service, or on forums. The first 1,000 users who register on the site will get a free membership, with future monthly membership fees still in the works, though Pauly said it will likely be about $20 in the U.S. and vary by country. Currently, English, French, Japanese, Italian and Turkish versions of the site are available, with more editions forthcoming.

Chicago-based celebrity chef Charlie Trotter is being sued for allegedly selling a magnum of fake Domaine de la Romanée-Conti to collectors. As Trotter prepared to close his eponymous restaurant last August, he sold bottles from the legendary cellar to interested collectors. Bekim and Ilir Frrokaj paid $46,000 for a magnum purported to be 1945 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti, but an outside appraisal found it to be counterfeit. They are suing for $76,000 in damages, alleging that Trotter knowingly sold the counterfeit. According to the Chicago Tribune, Trotter said, “It was a disgruntled client who probably paid a lot more money for a bottle of wine than he’s ever paid before—it’s buyer’s remorse.”

Advertising agency Fischer & Friends unveiled the Offline Glass, a specially designed vessel with a section of its thickened base cut out so that a mobile phone must support it. Unveiled by Salve Jorge bar in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Offline Glass was created to help drinkers put down their phones when socializing.

A new online database is giving wine lovers a chance to find out why Italian grapes deserve a little extra attention. VitisDB proves that Italy's biodiversity is the richest in the world. Now loads of information about Italian indigenous varieties is just a click away. Wine nerds can dig into the origins and history of grapes in both English and Italian. For those interested in taking a closer look at the vines, photos are also available. Launched by the University of Pisa, the site is a fundamental tool for those who love vino italiano and is the most complete resource of its kind. —contributed by Elizabeth Simari

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