Uncorkings 11.1

News and notes from the world of wine.

Diageo Plc, the maker of Guinness stout and Smirnoff vodka, announced that it will invest $158 million to expand in Africa in 2011. The region’s growth is expected to help compensate for slowing sales in Europe and the U.S.

Arizona-based beer distributor Hensley Beverage Co., one of the country’s largest distributors of Anheuser-Busch, acquired Quench Fine Wines, with an eye toward getting involved in the burgeoning wine-on-tap movement. Quench is distributor for Silvertap Wines.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway agreed to buy Horizon Wine and Spirits to expand its liquor distribution business and enter the Tennessee market. This is the second wine and spirits distributor purchased by Berkshire Hathaway.

Demand for Château Lafite-Rothschild 2008 shot up overnight following the announcement that its bottles will be etched with the Chinese figure eight, considered a lucky symbol. The wine won’t be bottled until next year; investors are betting that the release will sell out to Chinese collectors.

Maker's Mark named Rob Samuels to the newly created position of Chief Operating Officer.  In addition, he will serve as general manager of the Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky. Samuels is the grandson of Maker’s Mark Founder Bill Samuels, Sr.

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