Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch Buys Moraga Vineyards

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


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Rupert Murdoch, the Australian press baron, has bought the 16-acre Moraga Vineyards and winery, in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel Air. The purchase price was a reputed 29.5 million. The billionaire publisher announced the purchase via Twitter. “About to celebrate buying beautiful small vineyard right in LA,” he tweeted. The winery’s Web site says Moraga was “the first new commercial winery to be established in the city of Los Angeles since Prohibition…” The winery, which had its first vintage was 2005, specializes in Bordeaux-style red and white wines. The 2010 white sells for $65 a bottle, while the 2008 red goes for $125. The estate vineyard is located in the Santa Monica Mountains, some 600–900 feet in elevation. The previous owner, business executive Tom Jones, planted it with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, and has sold Moraga wines to such L.A. restaurants as Spago, Morton’s The Steakhouse and the Beverly Hills Hotel. The first rumors that Murdoch was interested in buying the winery surfaced in the gossipy Hollywood Reporter. When asked, during the Oscar award weekend, if a purchase was in his future, Murdoch responded with a no, but then added, "not yet."

Boisset Family Estates announced that two of its California wineries, Raymond Vineyards and DeLoach Vineyards, will be 100 percent solar powered upon completion of solar installations this summer. In addition, Raymond Vineyards’s Napa Valley estate vineyards in Rutherford and St. Helena are now certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers and certified biodynamic by Demeter USA.

Rajat Parr, sommelier and wine director of the San Francisco-based Mina Group of restaurants, and winemaker Sashi Moorman are planning a new venture in the Santa Rita Hills AVA of Santa Barbara County. The pair purchased property from Evening Land Vineyards for an undisclosed sum, and will be naming their new project Domaine de la Côte. Parr and Moorman are already partners on the label Sandhi.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery launched its newest addition to its Sofia label, a 2012 Chardonnay from Monterey County. Retailing for $19, the wine is a blend of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Blanc, with 80% of the wine vinified in stainless steel and the remainder fermented in used French oak barrels. The Sofia label, named after Coppola’s daughter, already includes a sparkling Blanc de Blanc, Riesling and rosé.

Online retailer Fab, which sells hip, design-focused products, now sells wine. The site, which currently sells high-end food products along with wine accessories, is featuring its wine as bundle offers, with sales lasting two weeks on average. One of the wine bundles is a case of “Wines that Rock” at $164—featuring Woodstock Chardonnay, Grateful Dead Red Blend, Rolling Stones “Forty Licks” Merlot, and Dark Side of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon—cheekily packaged to appeal to Fab’s urban-minded, hipsteresque consumers.

The James Beard Awards were held in New York City last week, honoring the top names and influencers in the American food world. David Chang of New York’s Momofuku Noodle Bar and Paul Kahan of Chicago’s Blackbird shared the honor of the night’s highest prize, Outstanding Chef. In the beverage categories, Chicago’s The Aviary won for Outstanding Bar Program; Merry Edwards of Merry Edwards Winery in Sebastopol, California won Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional; and Boulder, Colorado’s Frasca Food and Wine took home Outstanding Wine Program.

Somm, a documentary following the trials and tribulations of four sommeliers as they train and study for the Master Sommelier exam, released a new trailer in anticipation of its select theatrical release. One of the subjects in the film is Ian Cauble, US ambassador for Krug Champagne and one of Wine Enthusiast’s “40 Under 40.” Upon its release at select theaters, a wine tasting will accompany the film. Somm opened and premiered at the Napa Valley Film Festival in 2012.

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