Destin Charity Wine Auction Helps Kids; Happy Hour To-Go; and What’s the Right Amount of Alcohol?

Also, France invades England, California grape growing shows a slight decline, and the 2016 James Beard Award winners are announced. This week in your world of wine.

Last week, South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival wrapped up an exciting and record-breaking four-day event filled with wine tasting, Champagne and spirits seminars and live music. More than 4,000 people attended the festivities in Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, located in Northwest Florida, along the award-winning beaches of South Walton.

The festival is a fundraiser for Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation. The auction’s record-winning bid was the Magnum Force lot—a group of 50 magnums autographed by DCWAF vintners, which sold for $55,000. A total of $2.65 million was raised for children in need in northwest Florida.

Wine Enthusiast's Marina Vataj (left), Banfi Vintners' Cristina Mariani-May
Wine Enthusiast’s Marina Vataj (left), Banfi Vintners’ Cristina Mariani-May

At the festival, Wine Enthusiast’s own Marina Vataj and Jay Spaleta presented DCWAF’s honorary vintner and international honorary vintner awards. Destin has become the top charity fundraising event in Northwest Florida, and ranks among the nation’s ten highest grossing charity auctions for the past four years. Also popular were a pair of resort vacations—one to Little Palm Island for two couples ($56,000), and another for an African Safari and Wine Experience ($54,000) donated by Washington’s Betz Family Winery. A bourbon blending experience with Angel’s Envy sold twice at $50,000 each. Next year’s event is the weekend of April 28–30.

Home Tippling Tips the Scale

More Americans are choosing to forego going out in favor of drinking wine in the comfort of their own homes, according to a survey by wine app Vivino.

According to the company’s findings, 47% of millennials and 61% of Gen X-ers and baby boomers prefer drinking wine at home rather than at social gatherings, restaurants, or wineries. Millennials are perceived as a budget-conscious generation, and 59% say cost is the most important factor in what and where to imbibe. This is bad news for on-premise locations—just 3% of those surveyed picked bars as their favorite drinking venues.

How Much Alcohol is the Right Amount of Alcohol?

It’s commonly noted that a healthy lifestyle can (or should) include one or two drinks daily. But how much alcohol is a “standard” drink? In the U.S., the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says 12 ounces of beer (roughly 5% abv), 5 ounces of wine (at about 12% abv), or 1 ½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits are standard. They all contain 14 grams of pure alcohol (ethanol).

But that number does not apply everywhere. The Australian department of health lists one standard drink at somewhat less than an American serving (slightly less than 10 ounces of beer or 1 ounce of distilled spirits), while China’s Beijing Technology Supervision Bureau sets a single standard drink at a whopping one liter (roughly 34 ounces) of beer, nearly triple those in the U.S. Click here to compare your native land with other countries’ alcoholic standards.

James Beard Award Winners

The James Beard Foundation Award winners were announced May 2 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Illustrating a growing shift from previous years, the top awards in 2016 went primarily to female chefs. Congratulations go out to Outstanding Chef Suzanne Goin (Lucques in Los Angeles), Outstanding Pastry Chef Dahlia Narvaez (Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles), and Rising Star Chef Daniela Soto-Innes (Cosme in New York City). Gina Gallo was inducted into the Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America. Other top awards went to Alinea (Chicago) for Outstanding Restaurant, Ken Friendman (The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, and Tosca Café in New York) for Outstanding Restaurateur, and Shaya (New Orleans) for Best New Restaurant.

Visit for a full list of this year’s winners.

Meanwhile, In the Trade

Champagne Pommery Sets Sights On England

Champagne Pommery has become the second Champagne house to make a leap across the Channel into England, in partnership with Hampshire wine producer Hattingley Valley. Pommery’s chef de cave, Theirry Gasco, will be selecting and blending the grapes of Hattingley’s winemaker Emma Rice.

Pommery plans to release its first English sparkling wine in 2019. It has also left the option open for planting vineyards of its own in the UK, saying it is committed to a long-term investment in English bubbly.

It has not been announced under which name the first release of this international pairing will be sold. However given the near-identical chalk soils and considerably cheaper land, Pommery most assuredly won’t be the last French producer to invest in their neighbor to the north.

Anti-Dam Protesters Gather in the Douro

Protesters have issued a call for support to prevent a dam from being built across one of the world’s most historic wine regions, the Douro Valley. The 162.3 million (euro) project, which is being built at a UNESCO Heritage site, is already nearing completion. Opponents say it will cause a “devastating and irreversible” impact to the landscape of the Alto Douro Vinhateiro. A series of YouTube films, produced by film director Jorge Pelicano, detail the impact of the dam, and more than 16,000 letters have been sent to UNESCO.

California Grape Stats Show Slight Decline

The 2015 grape acreage report for California has been released by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, California Field Office. Wine grape acreage decreased by a little over 1% to 608,000 acres, of which 560,000 were bearing and 48,000 were non-bearing. Pinot Noir moved ahead of Merlot in the leading wine varieties. Chardonnay remains number one, followed in order by Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Merlot.

On The Scene

Here are some upcoming wine events that are likely to sell out in advance, so move fast!

Lexus Gran Fondo, May 27–30. This culinary and cycling event is a first for Lexus, bringing together challenging bike rides, curated visits to local farms, and distinctive food and wine events. Rides explore picturesque Cape Cod, while dinners take place around Boston.

32nd Annual Winesong, September 10. Tickets are now on sale for the 32nd Annual Winesong event, produced by the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.

Published on May 9, 2016
Topics: Wine News, Wine News + Trends, Wine Trends
About the Author
Paul Gregutt
Contributing Editor

Reviews wines from Oregon and Canada.

Paul Gregutt is a Contributing Editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine, a founding member of the magazine’s Tasting Panel, and reviews the wines of Oregon and Canada. The author of the critically-acclaimed Washington Wines & Wineries—The Essential Guide, he consulted on the Pacific Northwest entries in current versions of The World Atlas of Wine and The Oxford Companion to Wine.


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