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Sunday, November 30, 2008

GOSH: Constellation Brands buys Peller; merges wine store oprations...



VIAGARA FAILS – (GOSH Wine News Services) – At a stunning Press Conference to be made tomorrow jointly at Viagara Fails, ON and Niagara Falls, NY, Constellation Brands, A Constellation Company, will announce the purchase of Andrew Peller Ltd by Vincor Canada, A Constellation Company.


A senior official familiar with the two companies, and speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge specific details, commented on this announcement. He said that their only motive was to get the Vineyards Estate Wines stores and boutiques in Ontario. "With these stores, we can now be a tower of strength and compete wine sales with the LCBO, A Crown Corporation."


Apparently, the existing wine properties will be sold off by public auction, said the source, although a deal with Diamond Estates, Not A Constellation Company, is also in the works. Distribution rights to all of the Peller wines would remain with Vincor, A Constellation Company. Liquors and beers are not affected by this new development; they will continue to be sold through the LCBO, A Crown Corporation, and The Beer Store, Not A Crown Corporation.


There are 165 Wine Rack stores in the Vincor, A Constellation Company, portfolio. With Vineyards Estate Wines, there will be about 250, at a critical mass to take on the LCBO's 600 stores.


The strategy is to merge the Wine Rack and Vineyard Estates stores and rename them after the existing wine agency, Churchill Cellars Ltd. Constellation Brands apparently has the numbers and clout, say the retail marketing experts, to put up larger numbers in the table wine business than the LCBO, A Crown Corporation.


"With their combined agency and winery skills, the retail stores of Churchill Cellars Ltd. should be able to offer all the Vincor, Peller, imported Australian, American – and other international wines - that Constellation Brands own or otherwise distribute throughout the world. These products can be vended through the CCL stores, at a lower price than the LCBO is currently asking", says the source familiar with the ins and outs of the international liquor retail and wholesale business.


At the same time, Churchill Cellars Ltd. will continue to sell their wines to licensees and private customers. It will become a multi-faceted company engaging both the public and the private sector. Ontario, A Have-Not Province, Premier Grate McGinty welcomes this new development in the PPP [public-private partnership] spectrum. He said: "With the economy tanking these days, we need to look at new developments through innovative thinking. Enough revenue can be generated from this PPP to more than offset any losses at the LCBO. It also answers those critics who lament a lack of private ownership in the alcohol beverage business in Ontario, A Have-Not Province."


Neither the Wine Council of Ontario nor the Ontario Viniculture Association had any printable comments to make.


The LCBO, A Crown Corporation, has not responded to any emails on this matter, although an anonymous source in their accounting department has said that they have been well aware of the Peller purchase for some time. Everybody in the accounts section had worked 24/7 all week long on restating and resolving the dollar and mark-up numbers. A press conference is expected later this week.


More on this story as it develops…You betcha…



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Christmas Wine Sales: reports from the field

I'm hearing reports from some wine agents that "Consignment" product sales to licensees are dropping, and that expensive wine sales are down. There are  even requests being made of some restaurants to pay their invoices as they order, so the agent won't be stuck with the bills after the restaurant inevitably closes or declares bankruptcy in January or February of 2009...
Distressing. Unstable economic conditions are causing havoc throughout the wine world, with top cru wines selling for half their September values.
Does anybody have hard figures from the recent Vintages auction? I saw a display advert in the Globe announcing a SECOND auction of presumably unsold product: Dec 6 and 7 are the dates. Will they sell?
Two recent art auctions crashed. Sotheby's Canada-Ritchies only had 60 % of its lots sold, and sold 66% by value. The Joyner Waddington sale of Nov 25 was less than half the sale of November 2007; they said 36% of their lots went unsold.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Letter from Steve Kocsis of Mountain Road Winery, VQA Ontario re: rotting grapes in Ontario

Letter from Steve Kocsis of Mountain Road Winery, VQA Ontario:

Dear Kathy, Bill and Debbie,

As thousands of tons of Ontario grapes are thrown to the ground
to rot the Government of Ontario throws a bone for starving dog grape
growers and farm based wineries to fight over. The bone is barely enough to
feed a few, but hundreds will snarl and bite fighting to get a mouthful.

The cowardice of the GGO to confront the government on the real
issue of market access for 100% Ontario wine is to be expected from a
chained dog that heels to the jerk of its owner, the Government of Ontario.
Sit, beg, roll over, here is another bone for you to gnaw on but the meat
goes somewhere else.

The WCO is similarly chained to the Government of Ontario in
their pact to protect the current monopoly (Triopoly) of the LCBO, Vincor
and Andre's. They have three chains around their neck if you count the
Cellared in Canada giants' veto power at WCO. Their mandate is to market
imported and blended wines under the halo effect of VQA wines and the happy
faces of Ontario grape growers slowly starving to death but too proud to
show it on their faces.

The all time award for hypocrisy goes to the Government of
Ontario for pillaging the grape and wine industry wearing the hood of the
Green Belt to make it seem benign, greenwashing the economic bloodbath
taking place in wine country. Farmers and farm wineries are going into debt
review and bankruptcy and fire sale mode but no one dares speak the truth at
the peril of losing the work of a lifetime or perhaps the work of multiple
generations of lifetimes.

The government's cowardice to face the LCBO unions is
monumental. Their self-serving greed to build and maintain an overpaid and
under worked bureaucracy only mirrors the total lack of integrity that has
become the corporate culture of both the LCBO and Government of Ontario.

Ontario grapes rotting on the ground while the shelves are
filled with imported and imported/blended wines; shame on us all for not
taking to the streets with pick axes and WD-40 ing up the guillotines.

There is a solution, however, that is obvious.

Why not let the government create a monopoly to retail cars to
the public, making sure that only foreign cars are displayed on the car lot.
After all, cars are the most dangerous product on the market, they kill
thousands a year. Only the Car Control Board of Ontario (CCBO) is qualified
to sell this dangerous product to the public. Once they have pigged out at
this new trough, perhaps the right of Canadian farmers to take their product
to market guaranteed by the British North America Act could be reinstated.

All I want to do is grow grapes, make wine, take it to market
and make a living from the land. The only roadblock is the LCBO and the
Government of Ontario and their co-opted industry associations purportedly
representing our interests.

Steve Kocsis

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Newspaper Wine Writing in Toronto

Apparently, the lineage allocated to wine writing in the Toronto newspaper world has shrunk dramatically over the past four months.
* The writer at the Globe and Mail seems to be making only cameo appearances.
* The writer at Metro has apparently moved to Metro online.
* The writer at the Star has had his Vintages coverage cut back.
* The writer at the Sun doesn`t seem to be in every week, and writes a smaller column than before,
* The writer at the National Post used to cover six wines or so, and lately has been cut back to three wines.
* The writer at Now is less featured, and while there are still three items being covered, there is less display space available.
* The Wine Ladies at 24 Hours now only answer just one question.
If I was a conspiracy theorist, I`d say the same fellow was writing all of the wine articles for all of the six newspaper outlets -- there are so few words being published that one wine writer can handle them all!
Any thoughts I can post, send them in...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Vieux Beaujolais Cougar Wine Will Arrive Nov. 19, 2008

BEAUJOLAIS – (GOSH Wine News Services) – In a revealing press conference to be called in just a few hours, Drowsy LaBeef Wines will announce a new Beaujolais in their Fall line-up. To be called Vieux Beaujolais, it will be sold annually on the Wednesday immediately preceding the release of Beaujolais Nouveau. This year, that'll be November 19, 2008


A senior Beaujolais official familiar with these activities, and speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge specific details, commented that when faced with warehoused stock and returned wines, LaBeef developed an idea for a mature Beaujolais for today's lifestyles. At the same time, to enhance sales, the company has pounced on the New World marketing values, and has created a "critter" for the label: a Brazilian cougar, in a three-dimensional motif. Advance press notice from the UK shows some intense excitement.


One Brit wine writer was provided an advanced sample, and raved about the wine. She said: "the penetrating initial entry quickly leads to a mouthfilling rush of pleasurable mature gamey – er, Gamay – fruit that explodes with orgasmic intensity at the end. Sustainable finish, aided by a very long length."  


Many North American wine writers are doubtful about the value of this wine, and are adopting a wait-and-see attitude. Early sample tastings show that neither the sustainable finish nor the long length travels very well across the ocean. "Pity", said one Canadian writer, who said that otherwise she was looking forward to it. She went on to say that "Nouveau is so young, so premature, so short, so 'over and done with' quickly. It's only worth – what's the word? Early e…ejac…?  No, early expectoration"


This country's wine bloggers, who are, by and large, under the age of 30, are drooling at the thought that the Cougars will "arrive in style", to be tasted at bars and parties. They don't mind the short finish or the diminished length. One said: "We're used to it, happens all the time."


A special promotion by the LCBO will ensure that its mature status lasts beyond Christmas, unlike the Nouveau. Early marketing indications are that it will outsell Beaujolais Nouveau.


More on this story as the Cougars play out…


Chimo!  www.deantudor.com


Sunday, November 9, 2008

LCBO to go 24/7 in time for Christmas? Rumours fly...

One of my favourite moles in the LCBO Accounting Department is working with a study team to find a way to be accessible to the public 24/7. There's no problem with the website -- it's just with the stuff you pour.
One of the major problems is the employee pay for non-standard time: where to get the money? The main idea they are working on is to INCREASE the price of alcohol by 10% -- if you buy it between the hours of midnight and 8 AM. This seems reasonable, and the idea is being selectively leaked to a variety of informants to see how the public reacts.
It is hoped that the concept will be ready by December 1, just in time for the annual Christmas splurge.
Initially, there will only be four stores in the GTA open 24/7, but if the idea flies, then within a week there will be others in the larger urban districts of Ontario. I understand that they will eventually extend this 24/7 option to The Beer Store by December 20, but will close down the bottle return function during those night hours. To maximize their own revenues, the LCBO will NOT allow winery stores or winery tasting rooms to be open 24/7.
In a response from the temperance movement, a spokesperson said: "24/7 should mean, at least to us, that the LCBO is only open 24 hours a week, and then for only 7 months of the year. This is a disgrace...".
The Slow Food movement had no comment as their policy is always to wait and see.
Wine writers were anticipating that LCBO lab tastings, which may involve almost 200 products, may now begin at 6 AM and close by Noon.
Restaurateurs were hopeful that alcoholic beverages may soon be served at breakfast and at early brunches.
More on this as it develops, but be prepared for the usual LCBO denials.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Winery Questions are being raised and asked of the LCBO

Winery issues to be resolved in Ontario?
1) why is there an environmental levy charged when a bottle deposit applies?
2) why are wineries required to pay taxes on tasting samples?
3) why are small wineries audited by Federal Excise Tax when no taxes will be paid?
4) why are small wineries audited by LCBO to the last half litre of wine when larger wineries are apparently not?
5) why are public funds used to produce the Official Winery Map when only Wine Council members appear on the map?
6) why are all 100% Ontario wines not eligible to be sold through licensees (restaurants and hotels) at the same tax rate as VQA wines?
7) why are all 100% Ontario wines not eligible for the government rebate on sales through LCBO?
8) why can't wineries sell their wines at approved Farmers' Markets as in Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick?
9) by extension, why can't wineries sell their products at various food-oriented consumer shows?