Construction has begun on a new wine museum—dubbed the Cité des Civilisations du Vin—in Bordeaux. With expected completion in 2016, the $87.7 million project will house a museum, exhibition space, restaurants and panoramic views of the storied region from the top floor. While the region attracts 3.3 million wine tourists each year, the Cité des Civilisations du Vin hopes to attract an additional 500,000 visitors a year with programming celebrating wine history and wine from all over the world, “not just French wine,” according to a press release. The ultra-modern construction is inspired by the growth of old vines as well as wine being poured into a wine glass. The main floor will feature the museum’s permanent circuit of exhibitions, which will comprise of 23 themed modules, taking visitors on a two hour long tour through the world—and soul—of wine. The multimedia modules will allow for consistent updating of content and will feature rooms dedicated to terroir, trends, the art of wine and its history. On the top floor, the belvedere—lit by thousands of wine bottles-turned-lighting fixtures—will provide an unobstructed view of Bordeaux. Visitors will be offered a glass of wine while admiring the view. Directly below the belvedere will be a restaurant with panoramic views. The entire project embraces a High Environmental Quality approach, and is 77 percent-funded by public endowments. The remainder will be raised through private backers.
The American Wine Consumer Coalition (AWCC) was founded last week, citing lack of consumer representation in determining state and national wine laws. In a press release, the nonprofit 501c4 organization said, “new laws and regulations represent the interests of the alcohol beverage trade, not the consumers.” The AWCC’s agenda includes pursuing consumer access to wine via direct shipment, grocery store wine sales and privatization efforts of wine sales. Annual consumer membership is $35, which includes access to national wine events and discounts on wine education.
Paso Robles’ Hope Family Wines has expanded its Liberty School label with two new bottlings: Liberty School Pinot Noir ($20) and Liberty School Merlot ($16). Liberty School Pinot Noir is grown in three Central Coast microclimates: the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey, cool areas of Paso Robles, and Paicines in San Benito County. The majority of Liberty School Merlot comes from vineyards located in the El Pomar District of Paso Robles, with the remainder coming from cool sites in Santa Barbara.
Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi released its first vintage of Gorgona, a wine made by prisoners. Through its “Frescobaldi per Gorgana” program, the 700-year-old winery hired fifty inmates to produce the wine, a blend of Vermentino and Ansonica grapes from the island of Gorgona, off the Tuscan coast. The program’s goal is to provide inmates with the opportunity to learn winemaking techniques and job skills under supervision from the company’s agronomists and winemakers. Only 2,700 bottles of Gorgona have been produced, with 1,000 allocated to the U.S. market.
Martin Christopher “Chris” Edwards, a former senior executive for Napa-based The Wine Tasting Network, is wanted as a fugitive after failing to appear in court June 17. Suspected of stealing $900,000 from the company (a division of 1-800 Flowers.com), Edwards was charged with 23 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in an indictment issued by the court.
Maurice and Paul Marciano, brothers and co-founders of global denim brand GUESS, together with wine personality Christian Navarro, announced their purchase of Wally’s Wine & Spirits, the world-famous West Los Angeles merchant. The partners purchased the business—opened in 1968—from retiring founder Steve Wallace. Navarro has been appointed president, while Wally’s Wine and Spirits will maintain its name. The Marciano brothers themselves are not new to the wine game: Maurice Marciano recently purchased a boutique winery in Napa Valley and plans to release the 2012 vintage of his Bordeaux-style red wine in 2014.