Matthew McConaughey to Star in The Billionaire’s Vinegar

Plus E. & J. Gallo Winery announces new acquisition, plus other news and notes from the world of wine, beer and spirits.


Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey is slated to star in The Billionaire’s Vinegar, a film based on the Benjamin Wallace book. The book explores the infamous wine fraud scandal in the 1980s where collectors that included billionaire and Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Award nominee Bill Koch were tricked into buying wine they believed once belonged to Thomas Jefferson. The effects of the sales and their aftermath rocked the wine world are still felt today. Will Smith has signed on as a producer for the film.

In celebration of its 250th anniversary, Cognac brand Hennessy will release a limited-edition blend, available this month. The Hennessy 250 Collector Blend—only 250 barrels were produced—is considered cellar master Yann Fillioux’s tribute to his predecessors, and marks his own 50-year career. The commemorative one-liter bottle will retail for $600.

Our Wine + Film issue has landed, and Hollywood actress Kate Hudson is our cover star! In an exclusive interview, the wine-loving celeb chats about her family business, her favorite sips and her approach to winemaking. Read the full interview >>>

In the News

On March 24, E. & J. Gallo Winery (Gallo) announced its purchase of J Vineyards & Winery. Founded in 1986 by Judy Jordan—daughter of Tom and Sally Jordan, founders of Jordan Winery—and located in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, J Vineyards produces a range of sparkling wines, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. The first release, a 1987 J Vintage Brut, came on the scene in 1991, selling 4,000 cases across 32 cities, each one a hard-fought hand-sell. In 1997 Jordan bought the Piper Sonoma winery south of Healdsburg to set up J, a deal that included 118 acres of nearby vineyards. Gallo’s acquisition will include the Healdsburg winery and more than 300 acres spread over nine vineyards within the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley AVAs. Gallo owns nine other wineries located throughout California and Washington, and will take J forward without the benefit of winemaker Melissa Stackhouse, who joined from La Crema in 2011. She will be moving on to pursue other opportunities.—by Virginie Boone

As reported by trade publication Growing Produce, an insect known for spreading Pierce’s Disease in vineyards, the glassy-winged sharpshooter, was recently discovered in California’s Marin County during a routine inspection of a nursery shipment. Pierce’s Disease kills grapevines, while the insect also spreads lethal diseases to crops like almonds, for which there are no known cures. “This is an extremely serious insect pest we need to continue to keep out of Marin County and the Bay Area,” said Marin County agricultural commissioner Stacy Carlson. “The potential damage to our landscape plants, gardens and environment is significant.” All plants from the tainted shipment were immediately returned to the origin shipper, and Marin County nurseries were asked to report plant material from areas infected by the pest.

In an effort to crack down on imitations of its protected wines, the Italian government signed a deal with eBay this week “to protect the unique heritage of the Made in Italy brand.” Fraudulent wines cost the country’s producers more than $1 billion a year, according to Wine Searcher. Announced during Vinitaly, eBay committed to remove wine listings that claim to originate from protected Italian wine styles or regions. Italy’s largest agricultural association also ramped up its fight against imitators that exploit the established reputation of wines like Chianti, Barolo and Montepulciano. The group built a “Corner of Shame,” highlighting offenders from the U.S., Canada, Crimea and South America. Read more about emerging trends from Vinitaly >>>

On March 25, Beringer Vineyards announced the hiring of Mark Beringer as chief winemaker. A direct descendant of founding brother Jacob Beringer, Mark’s most recent post was at Artesa and he previously worked at Duckhorn. He will begin his new role on April 20.

Out and About

Italian Editor Kerin O’Keefe reported the latest trends in the country’s wines from Vinitaly, the nation’s largest wine trade event. Read O’Keefe’s full report, highlighting Italy’s continued love affair with bubbly and a burgeoning appreciation for all things organic. >>>

Follow European Editor Roger Voss as he attends the famed En Primeur tastings in Bordeaux. Over the week, he’ll sample and rate the new releases exclusively for Wine Enthusiast.

Executive Editor Susan Kostrzewa spoke with Fox and Friends about the best wine pairings for movie snacks. Watch the clip below to find out what to pair with Buncha Crunch and classic, buttery popcorn! What are your favorite wine-and-snack pairings? Let us know in the comments >>>

Published on March 30, 2015
Topics: Wine News, Wine Trends
About the Author
Joseph Hernandez

Hernandez is a Chicago-based writer and editor obsessed with wine, food and being an oft-misguided know-it-all. WSET certified, his work has appeared in various print and digital publications, including National Geographic's Intelligent Travel blog, Food RepublicModern Luxury's Men's Book and Chef Marcus Samuelsson's blog. When he's not drinking Champagne or funky Loire Valley reds, you can find Hernandez documenting his latest meal or day trip on Instagram.

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