MRM Imbibe: Golden Bar Awards and the Robotic Bartender

MRM Imbibe features beer, wine and spirits news.  This column includes Upserve, Diageo, ZD Wines, Guinness, Somabar, Tidal Commerce and DigitalPour, HALL Napa Valley, The Peacock Inn, FATE Brewing Co.,  Tullamore D.E.W., Wild Leap Brew Co. and Sugarlands Distilling Company.

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Summer is here and tourists are everywhere, which is great news for the restaurant industry. Restaurants and bars across the country (particularly in areas near the ocean and/or lake regions) are experiencing an uptick in customers. Upserve analyzed millions of daily food and beverage sales transactions for thousands of restaurants in the U.S. in 2017 and provided some key insights to help restaurateurs capitalize on sales this summer.

While it’s no surprise that Miami is the number one vacation spot for booze (pulling in an average of $3,096 in liquor sales daily), Upserve found some unlikely vacation spots that see a major increase in sales during the summertime months.

Key findings include:

  • Lake Ozark loves it’s liquor: Lake Ozark, in Missouri, outpaces all other vacation spots, selling the highest volume of liquor-based drinks – restaurants here sell an average of 30 percent more liquor items than the next highest city (Myrtle Beach).
  • Beer rules Los Angeles: The city of angels is the place to be for beer in the summer, with $1,539 in average daily brew sales—the highest of any other top vacation spot and a stark contrast to Miami’s average beer sales of $315 per day.

In addition to analyzing city-specific data, Upserve put top vacation spots head-to-head in a battle of food and beverage to see which areas came out on top:

  • New Orleans vs. Nashville: New Orleans and Nashville run a tight race, but it seems Nashville takes the cake for a cheaper food and booze experience. Both cities sell around 80 liquor items daily (Nashville: 85.2; New Orleans: 80.8), but Nashville’s daily sales average $630 to New Orleans’ $887.
  • The Hamptons vs. The Cape: Cape Cod restaurants sell an average of 14 percent more wine than its New York vacation counterpart. However, restaurants by New York’s finest beaches make 23 percent more in daily liquor sales than those in Massachusetts.

Along with analyzing beer, wine and liquor sales, Upserve took a deep dive into labor and turnover data (Q3 has the highest rate of turnover for restaurants and bars), particularly as they pertain to vacation towns. Servers in vacation towns, who want more cash for the additional work they take on during the peak June to August season, see an 18 percent average increase in their wages between April and September.

Golden Bar Awards

Diageo honored spirits distributors at the 15th Annual Golden Bar Awards, which  are presented to distributors demonstrating excellence in sales, marketing and promoting responsible drinking.

“All year long our distributors work hard on behalf of our fantastic brands, and the Golden Bar Awards are a way for us to acknowledge their work and show our appreciation,” said Claudia Schubert, President, US Spirits and Canada, Diageo North America. “Diageo’s U.S. Spirits business delivered another year of consistent sales growth at three percent, while gaining share in a number of key brand categories, so the Golden Bars are a time to celebrate success, and also look to the year ahead on how we will work together to help our brands continue to grow.”

The Golden Bar Awards celebrate distributors across the U.S. for their excellence in the industry and the important role they play in their respective communities. Awards are given in seven categories including On Premise Performance, Innovation, Brand Excellence, and Distributor of the Year. A special Platinum Bar Award is awarded to a spirits distributor who demonstrates significant commitment to responsible drinking.

In total, 16 Golden Bar statuettes, 15 made of gold and one of platinum, were awarded to spirits distributors. Each statuette weighs eight pounds, stands more than a foot tall, and is produced by Society Awards, the company that produces The Emmy’s®, presented by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Diageo will present Golden Bar Awards for beer distributors at a separate event in September.  Below are the categories and winners for the 2018 Golden Bar Awards for spirits.

Spirits Distributor of the Year         

Breakthru Beverage, South Carolina

Spirits Excellence Awards

  • Spirits Excellence – Smirnoff 

National Distributing Company, Georgia

  • Spirits Excellence – Johnnie Walker

Southern Glazer’s Coastal Pacific,

New Hampshire

  • Spirits Excellence – Baileys

Southern Glazer’s Coastal Pacific,


  • Spirits Excellence – Captain Morgan

Georgia Crown Distributing

  • Spirits Excellence – Tanqueray

Breakthru Beverage, Arizona

  • Spirits Excellence – Crown Royal

Southern Glazer’s Coastal Pacific, Ohio

  • Spirits Excellence – Ketel One

Breakthru Beverage, South Carolina

  • Spirits Excellence – Cîroc

Southern Glazer’s Coastal Pacific, Florida

  • Spirits Excellence – Bulleit

Breakthru Beverage, Arizona

  • Spirits Excellence – Reserve Brands

Southern Glazer’s Coastal Pacific, Florida

Innovation Launch (Spirits)         

Southern Glazer’s Coastal Pacific, California

Advancing Responsible Drinking (Spirits)           

Breakthru Beverage, Arizona

On Premise Excellence Award (Spirits)     

Southern Glazer’s Coastal Pacific, North Carolina

Multicultural Excellence (Spirits)        

Southern Glazer’s Coastal Pacific, North Carolina

Three Year Consistency (Spirits)         

Southern Glazer’s Coasta Pacific, Ohio

ZD Wines Celebrates 50 Years

ZD Wines’ 2018 harvest will mark 50 years of winemaking for this Napa Valley family. Founded in 1969 by Norman and Rosa Lee deLeuze, ZD Wines is committed to producing world-class wines, farming organically and providing first-class hospitality, all while supporting many charitable efforts.

Photo by Avis Mandel

Today, the second and third generations of the deLeuze family carry on the family legacy, producing wines from their certified organic vineyards in Rutherford and Carneros, as well as organic vineyards in Napa, Santa Barbara, Monterey and Sonoma. With innovative winemaking practices, they produce wines of quality, consistency and style.

“Our parents, Norman and Rosa Lee deLeuze, were dedicated to producing the highest quality wines and strived to raise the bar of excellence across the board,” said their son, Brett deLeuze, President of ZD Wines. “As we head into our 50th harvest, we are honored to carry on their vision and winemaking traditions.”

ZD Wines is known for three core varietals including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. They also produce two small production whimsical wines, named “Rosa Lee” and this fall they will release their first-ever sparkling wine to commemorate their 50-year anniversary. This fall ZD will also release their 20th Bottling of Abacus, ZD’s pinnacle and innovative solera style wine that is a blend of every vintage of their Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon dating back to 1992.

The deLeuze family has a rich history of embracing an ecologically sensitive approach to all aspects of their operation. With a focus on producing world-class wines, ZD’s certified organic vineyards promote biodiversity using the best technologies of the day, as well as time honored farming methods. The winery and vineyards use solar energy, bio fuels, composting, cover cropping, recycling, water conservation, electric vehicles, and more, to conserve and enhance our planet. ZD Wines is certified by CCOF, Fish Friendly Farming, Napa Green Winery, and California Certified Sustainable Winegrowing.

“Our father believed that great wines are made from healthy vines grown in rich, living soils,” said Robert deLeuze, CEO of ZD Wines. “We are dedicated to taking care of our planet and our community. It’s at the core of who we are as a family and who we are as a business.”

The deLeuze family is also dedicated to giving back. Their annual fundraising events include Crush Challenge and ZD’s Summer Wine Celebration. A strong emphasis is placed on the Napa Valley Boys & Girls Club Teen Center as the beneficiary of these events, as well as The deLeuze Family Charitable Foundation that benefits research to find a non-toxic cure for Lymphoma (Founder, Norman deLeuze succumbed to this disease in 2007). Each week, the deLeuze family and ZD team deliver healthy snacks to the Napa Valley Boys & Girls Club Teen Center. The deLeuze family also provides an annual $500 grant to each employee to gift to local charities of their choosing, and each year they participate in charity events around the country.

To mark their 50th anniversary, ZD Wines is hosting two Napa Valley events on Saturday, September 8. The first event is an exclusive wine tasting and harvest lunch hosted at ZD’s Rutherford estate winery. That event will be followed that evening with the “ZD’s 50th Anniversary Bash” taking place at CIA at Copia in downtown Napa where ZD will host a silent auction for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa. More information can be found here.

 Guinness Opens in Maryland

Guinness brewers, executives and guests from the local community gathered for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting at the new home of Guinness in America – the Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House in Maryland

Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House, the first Guinness brewery in the U.S. in more than 60 years, held a ribbon cutting on August 2, 2018 in Halethorpe, Maryland.

“This brewery has long been a dream for Guinness, and an incredible amount of hard work has gone into getting these doors open,” said Diageo Beer Company USA Chairman and Diageo Global Chief Sales Officer Tom Day. “I can’t wait to see people enjoying the fantastic beer our brewers have made in this historic and beautiful building. I’m proud that we have created something special and quintessentially Guinness here in Maryland.”

Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House, the first Guinness brewery in the U.S. in more than 60 years.

Located just 10 miles from downtown Baltimore and 30 miles northeast of Washington, D.C., the Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House is conveniently located and part of an exciting and growing brewing scene in Maryland. It will be the home of Guinness Blonde, along with new Guinness beers created for the U.S. market. The creation of a world-class brewery, barrel house and visitor center, and development of packaging and warehousing operations has generated more than 200 jobs and represents an investment by Diageo of approximately $90 million in the Maryland project.

The first part of the brewery’s name takes inspiration from the Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Dublin – where the company has experimented in beer for more than a century. The second part of the name, “Barrel House,” is a nod to the long history of Guinness brewers maturing beer in wood barrels, a tradition this new brewery intends to continue. In addition, the space was once home to a historic whiskey distillery, so the site already boasts a venerable heritage of barrel-aging.

Guinness Brewmaster Peter Wiens and his team tap a ceremonial firkin in celebration of the Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 2, 2018 in Halethorpe, Maryland. (PRNewsfoto/Diageo Beer Company USA)

“Our administration is proud of Maryland’s robust and growing brewing industry and we are excited to welcome a legendary brewer like Guinness to our great state,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. “In addition to more than 200 new jobs, this new facility’s full-time brewing and hospitality operations will bring a new source of tourism to Baltimore County and to Maryland. We remain committed to supporting companies that invest in our communities and our citizens, and Guinness opening its doors today is yet another example that Maryland is open for business.”

Leveraging a pre-existing structure for the project, as opposed to starting from scratch with a green field development, was a priority for Guinness to maintain parent company Diageo’s commitment to environmental sustainability. Guinness has also implemented measures to reduce the overall electric consumption and water usage at the site, while utilizing recycled elements for the build, along with low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials and paints, to accent the building.

“A lot more than hops goes into building a brewery,” said Baltimore County Executive, Don Mohler. “We partnered with Diageo from permits to passing legislation, all to be sure these historic buildings would become a world class destination for Baltimore County and the region.”

The Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House is the first Guinness brewing operation on U.S. soil in more than 60 years and is home to two custom-built brewhouses: a 10-barrel brewhouse and a 100-hectoliter brewhouse, both of which are set up to brew and ferment different styles. The 10-barrel system is the small-batch experimental brewery, while the 100-hectoliter system will initially brew Guinness Blonde for national distribution.

Led by Brewmaster Peter Wiens and Head Brewer Hollie Stephenson, the Maryland brewing team has already begun producing beers for the on-site taproom. While the majority of beers will be available exclusively in the taproom, a few brews will make their way to the greater DC, Maryland and Virginiaareas, with some even rolling out nationally.

Beginning tomorrow, visitors can tour the 10-barrel brewery and try the beers made on site.  The initial line-up will include: “Guinness IPA,” a hit in the Test Taproom; and “Crosslands Pale Ale,” a beer made entirely with Maryland-grown malted barley and hops.

While many Guinness classic stouts, including Guinness Draught, Extra Stout, and Foreign Extra Stout, will continue to be brewed at St. James’s Gate in Dublin, guests can enjoy them responsibly alongside the new American innovation beers in the brewery’s taproom. The exact number of beers on tap will vary, but there will typically be more than 15 beers available at one time.

All beer sales and sampling will be limited to guests 21 years of age and over, but the destination will offer fun for people of all ages. The brewery’s restaurant, led by Executive Chef Sam Anderson, is slated to open later this summer, and the menu will take inspiration from popular local dishes and Guinness’ unmistakable Irish heritage. Leading up to the restaurant’s debut – and even after it opens – guests can order casual bar fare in the taproom, or enjoy some of Maryland’s finest food trucks, which will often be stationed on the brewery grounds. The Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House also includes a performance area for future concerts and local community events.

Starting opening weekend, Guinness partner Lyft et up a permanent pickup lane at the brewery to facilitate convenient and responsible rides home as a part of Diageo’s commitment to responsible drinking and Lyft’s Ride Smart initiative.

The brewery offers free self-guided tours, and later this summer will also begin to feature guided tours with beer tastings for $10. Taproom entry and access to the restaurant and outdoor grounds will be free of charge. 

Robotic Bartender Debuts

Partner of Hilton hotels and restaurants, Somabar has created the first robotic bartending assistant for restaurants, hotel rooms and lounges. Winner of Best Appliance of the year award at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Somabar was designed to help the restaurant industry control beverage service with reduced waste, zero theft and faster service.


Somabar spent three years developing its award-winning technology and is shipping the first restaurant units at the end of August, 2018. Somabar will be demoed at the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo in the Los Angeles Convention Center from August 19 to 21, booth number 449, located in the Pubware Pavilion.

Somabar is a robotic bartending assistant that contains an unlimited and customizable digital bar menu able to make any listed cocktail in 10 seconds from the Somabar machine. The technology features automated cleaning and is virtually indestructible, rated for 1500 hours of continual use, the equivalent of 500,000 drinks. Industry beta testing conducted at various restaurant locations in Los Angeles have indicated that Somabar increases beverage revenue by 30 percent (on average) and decreases beverage labor costs by 65 percent (on average).

Tidal and DigitalPour Partner

Merchants solutions company Tidal Commerce and taproom management software DigitalPour launched  a new solution allowing breweries and taprooms to easily manage inventory and payments solutions on the same POS system. This is the first system of its kind for the brewery and taproom industry.

Now, Tidal Commerce’s all-in-one Tidal Smart Terminal powered by Poynt can automatically be integrated with DigitalPour’s state-of-the-art management system and beer dashboard.

“POS systems like Tidal Smart Terminal and taproom management software like DigitalPour are destined to be integrated to streamline tap room managers’ inventory and payments into one system, instead of the current option that leaves these two critical aspects of business isolated in silos,” said Lisa Marcus, founder and CEO of DigitalPour.

Using DigitalPour software on the Tidal Smart Terminal allows breweries and taprooms to digitally manage their inventory. Managers will receive automatic notifications when kegs are low, when new kegs are tapped, and alerts about how particular drafts are selling. DigitalPour also allows establishments to easily sync up their beer list with Facebook and Twitter, auto-tweet when a keg is tapped out, and lets their customers share the brew they’re enjoying on Untappd, the app for beer connoisseurs.

The terminal provides many payment options for bar-goers including Apple Pay, Android Pay, EMV, or Magstripe. It’s compatible with most existing POS systems, so breweries won’t need to spend loads on updating their systems. And, because all Tidal Commerce systems are EMV compliant, the new terminals will make compliance a snap in a restaurant industry that is slow to adopt.

 WineDirect and Tock Team

WineDirect and Tock today announce an exclusive partnership to fully integrate their innovative software systems to improve hospitality and sales at wineries throughout North America. Tock’s reservation system and WineDirect’s direct to consumer software will combine to provide better hospitality to millions of wine drinkers, whether on a visit to their favorite vineyard for tastings and tours, or making a purchase from home.

“As wineries increasingly offer seated tastings, vineyard tours and culinary experiences, the need for a robust reservation system that integrates with our existing point of sale, wine club and CRM software has become clear,” said Joe Waechter, President and CEO of WineDirect. “Tock’s focus on facilitating high quality hospitality and customer experiences align closely with WineDirect’s philosophy and made them the obvious partnership choice. We are pleased to be able to offer these best-in-class tools to our winery clients.”

The integration between Tock and WineDirect will enable mutual clients to leverage deeper customer insights, improve efficiencies in the tasting room, reduce no-shows and increase direct to consumer (DTC) sales. “Together, Tock and WineDirect help us provide the most personalized tasting experiences,” said John Trant, Director of DTC Sales at Italics Winegrowers. “For the first time, our staff has a complete view of our guests in one screen with the insights to deliver exceptional hospitality that is expected from our winery.”

 Michelin starred restaurants such as The French Laundry and Eleven Madison Park, and marquee Napa and Sonoma vineyards including Clos Pegase, Darioush, Viansa and dozens more, utilize Tock to manage tastings and tours, and better understand their guests’ desires.

“WineDirect is the clear industry leader with over 1,600 wineries and vineyards relying on their innovative software to sell and deliver wine,” said Tock CEO Nick Kokonas. “Tock is the bridge to connect wine lovers to their favorite vineyards for that special tasting or tour. Together, WineDirect and Tock provide a perfect and unique end-to-end solution that allows wineries to connect to their passionate consumers in an elevated and elegant way that matches the values of their brand.”

“If you’re managing more than one taproom, this new solution will allow you to keep an eye on your sales and inventory, says Tidal Commerce CEO Drew Sementa. “You’ll stay save money with reduced processing fees and enjoy all the awesome features of DigitalPour, synced with your payments terminal.”

 Fever-Tree Distribution with Southern Glazer’s
Fever-Tree inked a distribution agreement with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits.  Effective August 1,  SGWS will become Fever-Tree’s distribution partner, with exclusivity in the on-premise channel across 29 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. Fever-Tree pioneered and leads the U.S. premium mixer category, with current market share in excess of 50 percent (Nielsen, June 2018), perfectly aligning with SGWS’ spirits portfolio. 
The partnership is the first that Fever-Tree is announcing since launching its wholly-owned U.S. office in June. Prior to the new partnership, Southern Glazer’s distributed Fever-Tree in 16 U.S. states that included Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Washington. 
The partnership adds 13 new states, including Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas and Hawaii as well as Washington, D.C.
As a result of this agreement, Fever-Tree will work closely with both Southern Glazer’s and the major spirits brands within its distribution portfolio, driving innovation, new serves and elevating the drinking experience on all occasions. This, in turn, will provide a strong platform for significant growth opportunities ahead. 
Fever-Tree’s commitment and intrepid attitude to sourcing the highest quality ingredients, botanicals and taste are at the heart of all of its products, including its new Aromatic Tonic that is now launching into bars, hotels and restaurants across the U.S. through the Southern Glazer’s network.
Commenting on the Fever-Tree / Southern Glazer’s partnership, Fever-Tree North American CEO Charles Gibb said: “Fever-Tree is tremendously excited to partner with Southern Glazer’s, North America’s leading spirits and wine distributor. Thanks to their extraordinary reach and dynamic portfolio of world-class spirits, we can together deliver perfect drink solutions on cocktail menus across the country. The partnership is a crucial step as we transition to Fever-Tree USA taking full responsibility for its distribution across the country.”
 Brad Vassar, COO, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits said: “Our partnership with Fever-Tree brings together the highest quality market leaders on all sides, from spirits and mixers to the dynamics of the Southern Glazer’s distribution network, thus is a natural fit within our portfolio. We see exceptional opportunities in marrying Fever-Tree’s unique mixers with the many premium spirits in our portfolio. Through our partnership, we can seamlessly improve drinking occasions across the country.”
New Cruising Cocktails

Princess Cruises has revealed the line’s newly enhanced beverage menus, featuring globally inspired signature cocktail offerings created by master mixologist Rob Floyd. As one of the most significant beverage changes in the history of the company, destination-specific ingredients have been carefully selected to tantalize guests’ taste buds with flavors from every corner of the world. In addition to the new cocktails, the line has added 20 new high-end and exotic spirits, 39 new wines by the glass, and 17 new international and craft beers to the new menu.

“As part of our continued commitment to the guest experience, we are thrilled to debut new menus throughout the bars and lounges aboard Princess ships,” said Mario Siebaldi, senior vice president of guest operations for Princess Cruises. “Broadening the scope of our beverage options by partnering with notable industry leaders like Rob Floyd on globally inspired cocktails, as well as increasing our selection of beers and wines on board are all part of our aim to provide guests the best cruise vacation experience at sea. And with our new shareable drink recipes, guests can recreate their favorite memories once back at home over and over again.” 

Highlights of the new onboard offerings include a set of signature cocktails designed by Floyd, who used freshingredients and destination inspiration to develop a portfolio of new drinks for Princess Cruises. Bars and lounges throughout the ships will also feature new, themed menus, so guests can have fun exploring the different offerings at the various bars on board.

“I was truly inspired by ingredients from all the amazing destinations that Princess Cruises sails” said Rob Floyd. “Guests will be able to enjoy a wide selection of fully realized drinks that combine what I refer to as the Three T’s: taste, technique, and tale.”

Floyd believes spectacular drinks combine the best of “The Three T’s.” First and foremost is “Taste,” as interesting ingredient combinations produce delicious flavors. The second element, “Technique,” refers to the skill and craft that goes into creating each drink. And last but not least the “Tale;” a creative and fascinating inspiration behind each unique cocktail.

Whether traveling to Mexico, Italy, or the South Pacific, the globally designed cocktails by Rob Floyd have the flavors to inspire. Initial offerings include:

●        Mayan Heat: Patrón Silver tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice, agave syrup, muddled jalapeño

●        Italian Sunset: Aperol, Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, Angostura bitters

●        Ver-Jus: St. George “Terroir” gin, St-Germain, muddled green grapes, lemon juice, simple syrup

●        Mint Divine: Bombay Sapphire gin, ginger beer, cucumber, lime juice, simple syrup, fresh mint

●        Amaretto Manhattan: Bulleit Bourbon, Disaronno, sweet vermouth, Angostura orange bitters

●        Princess Punch: Absolut Elyx vodka, St. George raspberry liqueur, fresh lime, simple syrup, Gosling’s ginger beer

●        East Side Punch: Absolut Elyx vodka, fresh mint, cucumber, lime juice, simple syrup, club soda

●        A Trip to the Tropics: Absolut Elyx vodka, apricot liqueur, orange juice, pineapple juice, pomegranate juice

●        Ivory Coast: Grey Goose vodka, Amarula African liqueur, Kahlúa, chocolate shavings

●        The Egyptian Zombie: Bacardi Superior rum, Gosling’s Dark rum, blackberry brandy, sweet and sour, orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine

Rounding out the new drinks are “zero-proof cocktails,” made without alcohol. These light, fruity and refreshing drinks skimp on the alcohol, but miss none of the flavor:

●        Zero Mojito: Fresh mint, lime, simple syrup, Sprite

●        Strawberries on Fire: Fresh strawberries, lime juice, agave syrup, jalapeño, soda

The new beverage menu offerings will be available aboard all ships in fall 2018.

In addition to adding the new wines by the glass, Princess Cruises worked with Doug Frost, one of only four people in the world to hold both the prestigious ranks of Master Sommelier and Master of Wine to refresh the wine menus onboard.  More specific details will be shortly announced.

The Woman Behind the Wine

HALL Napa Valley offered details on the release of the newest vintage of its flagship wine, Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon, with a focus on the wine’s namesake.  The wine is named after Vintner Kathryn Hall, who is best known globally as the former United States Ambassador to Austria, a philanthropist who has helped raise awareness and funds for numerous non-profit organizations, a prominent activist of change, and a New York Times Bestselling author.  The Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon wine and the woman behind the wine embody pillars of strength, quality and consistency.

Los Angeles and San Francisco Advertising Portrait Photographer Marc Olivier Le Blanc, Advertising, Editorial and Lifestyle.

The release includes a series of campaigns dedicated to the wine’s consistent pedigree as well as insight into the woman behind the acclaimed wine label. 

Kathryn Hall has always had wine in her DNA.  As a second generation Vintner with deep roots in Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma Counties, Kathryn learned how to farm grapes at an early age from her father, Bob Walt, who instilled in her a philosophy that cutting corners is not an option, and that following environmentally sustainable practices was the right thing to do. Walt’s winegrowing mentality became the foundation for Kathryn across all of her future business efforts, and is today incorporated into her vineyards, production facilities, and various community projects. 

“I have always valued attention to detail and I am passionate about enabling healthy, creative living and working environments. I do my best to never cut corners in my work or in my home life, and to live as responsibly as possible,” said Hall. “I think each of us can make a difference in this world.”

Her philanthropic efforts throughout Napa and Sonoma Counties have helped raise over $8 million dollars for non-profits in education, health, science, technology and animal organizations within Napa Valley. Along with her husband, Craig Hall, her commitment to the community has been a central part of her focus in Napa Valley since the early 1990’s. Together, Craig and Kathryn have four children, one of whom, Jennifer Brown, is active in the family-owned winery. More information on the family’s community efforts is available at  

Historically, the Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon is defined by its core of dark, succulent Sacrashe Vineyard fruit from the rugged eastern edge of Rutherford Appellation. The wine is characterized by an interplay of elegance and concentration and displays voluptuous, dark berry fruit aromas with notes of crushed lavender and graphite that carry over onto a dense palate. Since the first vintage was produced in 1992, this wine has been one of the highest rated in HALL’s portfolio, earning 50 scores rated 90 points and above from the industry’s top critics including The Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Vinous. The wine has been recognized by the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list twice and the 2008 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon earned the #2 spot in 2011.    

“2015 is newest vintage of Kathryn Hall Cabernet – the wine is rich, dense and concentrated, very reflective of the vintage,” says Winemaker, Steve Leveque. “Dark earth, black spice and ripe blackberry flavors are met with a core of tannin coming from the Sacrashe Estate Vineyard – this is a very, very special wine.”

HALL has also produced a short video to help share the story of the woman and the wine. Viewers can watch Kathryn Hall telling this story HERE

New Sommelier at The Peacock Inn

The Peacock Inn introduced George Parkinson as sommelier of The Peacock Inn Restaurant & Bar. He is a certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, which sets the global standard of excellence and elevates the quality of beverage service throughout the hospitality industry. A wine writer and educator, George is known for his long-running wine column in the Bucks County Women’s Journal, a bi-monthly publication with a readership of 50,000.

Under Parkinson, the wine program at The Peacock Inn complements executive chef Mark Valenza’s “American mosaic” philosophy, globally-influenced cuisine that highlights fresh, seasonal ingredients including locally-farmed produce and aquaculture.

“We seek out special places on earth noted for particular expressions of varietal wines or blends,” he said “The multicultural approach to our food opens up an opportunity to include all wine regions of the world,” including Chardonnay from Santa Maria Valley, Pinot Noir from Central Otago New Zealand, Torrontes from Argentina’s Mendoza Region, Shiraz from Mac Laren Vale, Australia and many others, alongside extensive by-the-glass options.

He joins the Peacock Inn family with over 35 years of experience in the hospitality and wine industries. Parkinson began his professional training at Johnson & Wales College in Culinary Arts and continued his academic education at Diablo Valley College & U.C. Davis in California. His industry background includes sales and marketing experience in organizations such as Cain Cellars Winery and Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates. His operational experiences include Club Corp of America which operate over 2,500 Fine Dining venues across North America; The St. Francis Hotel (San Francisco, CA); Domaine Chandon (Napa Valley, CA) among others. His most recent position was Sommelier at Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar (Radnor, PA).

Jones’ FATE

Denise Jones will join FATE Brewing Co.  as Director of Brewing and Distilling Operations.  The internationally renowned Brewmaster who currently serves as the Master Distiller/Brewmaster/ American Ambassador for Weyermann® Specialty Malts in Bamberg, Germany.

“I’m very excited and eager to join the Fate Brewing Company team as the company heads towards new horizons. I have great expectations as we move into the future of craft beverages,” said Jones.

Denise Jones

Jones is a refined Brewmaster with 25 years of professional brewing and distilling experience, and has earned a litany of award-winning accolades from around the world, including top honors at the Great American Beer Festival, European Beer Star and the World Beer Cup. She has worked with Moylan’s Brewing and Distilling Company, Third Street Aleworks, Great Basin Brewing Company and other well-known breweries throughout the world. She has spent the last three years working in Germany with Weyermann® Specialty Malts, developing their distilling operations.

The collaboration came to fruition as FATE Brewing Company looked to revamp their current beverage program by expanding their family of award-winning brews.

“Jones brings exceptional creativity and diversity with her extensive background in beverage production. Her wealth of knowledge is undoubtedly amongst the finest in the industry. She is a decorated, world-class Brewmaster, and we are honored to have Denise join the FATE team, ” said Mike Lawinski, owner of FATE Brewing Company. 

Denise will visit the FATE team in August and September to begin the preliminary organization with the brewery and management team before moving to Colorado in December in a permanent role.

Tullamore D.E.W. Wins Worldwide Whiskey Trophy

Tullamore D.E.W. has won the Worldwide Whiskey Trophy at the International Wine & Spirits Competition for its 18 Year Old Single Malt.  

A much-coveted award, the Worldwide Whiskey Trophy has not been won by an Irish whiskey since 2009.

Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey

Now in its 49th year, the annual IWSC was created by wine chemist Anton Massel, who, in 1969, had the idea of creating a wine and spirit competition which was based not just on organoleptic judgement but where all entries also had to undergo chemical analysi

John Quinn, Tullamore D.E.W. Global Brand Ambassador says: “It is wonderful to see this prestigious award being given to an Irish Whiskey and of course we’re over the moon that our own Tullamore DEW 18yo Single Malt has been chosen. The four cask finish (bourbon, Oloroso sherry, port and madeira) gives it a gentle complexity with beautiful baked apple and dried fruit notes coming through.

The Tullamore D.E.W. single malt range has already collected an impressive array of awards. Tullamore D.E.W. 18 Year Old Single Malt was awarded a Master at the 2016 Global Irish Whiskey Masters competition. Tullamore D.E.W. 14 Year Old Single Malt won Gold medals at the 2016 Global Irish Whiskey Masters and International Spirits Challenge Awards 2016.

Tullamore D.E.W. is the world’s second largest Irish whiskey brand with global sales of more than one million (9L) cases annually. Tullamore D.E.W. became part of the William Grant & Sons family in 2010.

VolunCheers Online

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits launched a new internal online platform – VolunCheers Online – to take the company’s grassroots philanthropic efforts into the digital age. The platform, powered by YourCause, LLC, a leader in enterprise corporate social responsibility technology, enables Southern Glazer’s employees across the U.S. and Canada to connect with each other online to easily organize volunteering and fundraising activities, benefitting local and national charitable organizations.

The company’s current VolunCheers program consists of local market employee groups who gather together to initiate charitable activities in their own communities. By taking the program online, Southern Glazer’s employees can more effectively:

  • Connect with colleagues who share similar charitable passions;
  • Organize and promote volunteering events and fundraising campaigns;
  • Find and sign up for local volunteer events;
  • Log their volunteer hours;
  • Donate to their favorite charities; and
  • Get recognized for the good work they do in their communities.

The Company can also use the platform to quickly create and deploy enterprise-wide corporate social responsibility programs.

“At Southern Glazer’s, we have the most caring and compassionate team members in our industry,” said Wayne E. Chaplin, Chief Executive Officer, Southern Glazer’s. “Every day, across North America, our employees take the initiative to find ways to help people in need in their own local communities. By leveraging the new VolunCheers Online portal, we are more easily able to mobilize the power of our entire workforce to make an even greater difference.”

Taking a Wild Leap

An independent brewery launched 11 months ago and located 60 miles south of Atlanta in LaGrange, Georgia, Wild Leap Brew Co. focuses on brewing top-shelf craft beer while exploring new brewing techniques, ingredients and unique flavors.

This summer Wild Leap has released three selections in the Atlanta market. Alpha Abstraction Volume 1, the first of an experimental Double IPA series, hit the shelves in June and quickly became one of Georgia’s top rated beers. With a one-two punch of Loral and Citra hops, Volume 1’s tropical and stone fruit flavors made it popular with craft beer connoisseurs and newcomers alike.

Next, Wild Leap debuted Sunvale Blueberry Lemon, a light and fruity ale that’s perfect for warm summer days. This is the second beer in the Sunvale series, a collection designed to complement the flavors of fruit.

Just last week, the vivid and juicy Alpha Abstraction Volume 2 hit the shelves across Georgia. Double dry-hopped with Galaxy and Citra hops, Volume 2’s psychedelic can design matches the beer’s groovy and vibrant taste.

Coinciding with the brewery’s further expansion into Georgia with the Athens, Gainesville, and Augustamarkets, Wild Leap is adding a special twist by unveiling new packaging. Wild Leap’s core offerings, Local Gold Blonde Ale and Chance IPA, will be sporting new can artwork featuring what has become a signature brand element of the brewery, a lone buffalo.

Wild Leap has also expanded their brewing capacity and staff. In July, Wild Leap added an additional 90-barrel fermentation tank bringing annual brewing capacity to 8,000 barrels. In addition, they have added new members to the brew team, most recently hiring brewer Doug Saylor to work alongside head brewer Chris Elliott.

“We are thrilled and humbled with the demand we have seen for Wild Leap throughout Georgia,” said Anthony Rodriguez, co-founder and CEO of Wild Leap. “We built this brewery to make great beer and share it with others and this growth has exceeded our expectations.”

Sugarlands Partners with Cole Swindell

Sugarlands Distilling Company, producers of award-winning whiskey, moonshine and rum, announced a new partnership with country music rising superstar Cole Swindell.  

Swindell will be releasing his own Sugarlands Spirits flavors starting with a Peppermint Moonshine hitting shelves in liquor stores across America, online and in Sugarlands’ Gatlinburg distillery in October 2018. Swindell is working with Sugarlands’ head distiller Greg Eidam to create a unique recipe that will be released in January 2019.  

“The entire Sugarlands Distilling Co. team is excited to work with Cole through this new partnership. We are a company who believes in having fun while creating award-winning spirits. Cole is a perfect fit for the Sugarlands’ family and we’re excited for him to help us share the mountain spirit,” said Edward Vickers, president of Sugarlands Distilling Co.  

“I am honored to partner with a quality company like Sugarlands Distilling Company,” said Swindell. “I look forward to working with them on creating some of my own flavors of their award-winning spirits. It’s going to be a fun new venture for me.”