Uncorkings: California Winemakers Crush a Record-High Four Million Tons of Grapes in 2012

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


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California winemakers crushed a record-high 4.01 million tons of grapes after the 2012 harvest, a total that is 1% greater than the former record, which was set in 2005, according to The California Agricultural Statistics Service’s 2012 preliminary crush report. The top three leading varieties of the 2012 vintage were Chardonnay (16.8%), Cabernet Sauvignon (11.3%) and Zinfandel (10.3%).

New York City chefs Leah Cohen (Pig and Khao), Elizabeth Falkner (Krescendo), Alex Guarnaschelli (Butter), Shanna Pacifico (Back Forty West) and Missy Robbins (A Voce), faced off at the swine-centric culinary showdown Cochon 555 on Sunday, February 10, at Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers. At the event—now in its fifth year—each chef turned a whole heritage-breed pig into a snout-to-tail feast for 20 judges and 400 guests. At the end of evening, Missy Robbins was crowed the Princess of Porc and will go on to compete at the Grand Cochon event in Aspen on Sunday, June 16. Additionally, Joshua Wortman won the Punch Kings cocktail competition. The hog-hearty fare was paired with Scholium Project wine, Anchor Brewing beer and Breckenridge Distillery Bourbon. The next Cochon 555 will take place in Atlanta on February 17.

Trinchero Family Estates has plans for a three-year $300-million expansion of its Lodi, California-based West Side Winery. The project will include the addition of a high-speed bottling line and an automated warehouse racking system, which will allow Trincero’s capacity to reach upwards of 30 million cases. Currently, Trinchero’s production amounts to about 20 million cases annually.

The sale of Portuguese table wines in the United States increased 15% by value to $29.55 million for the first 10 months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, according to trade group ViniPortugal. Sales increased 8% by volume to 8.99 million liters for the same time frame. The U.S. is the sixth-largest export market for Portuguese wines.

Veuve Clicquot, the world’s second-largest Champagne brand, has joined forces with Michelin-star chef Joël Robuchon on a wine-and-food project. Beginning this month, Robuchon will pair Veuve Clicquot selections with dishes at his establishments, including L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, which has locations in Hong Kong, Las Vegas, London, Singapore, Taipei and Tokyo. The pairings will also be offered at Veuve Cliquot’s Hotel du Marc in Paris.

For the first time since Prohibition, New Jersey’s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) has issued a state distillery license. With the authorization, Jersey Artisan Distilling has plans to release a rum in April 2013, which is made using techniques that date back to the state’s colonial period when dark rum was produced. The company also plans to release this summer rums that are produced from state-sourced fruit—including strawberries and blueberries. Jersey Artisan’s Bourbon and whisky selections, which are made from New Jersey corn, are expected to hit the market in 2015.

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