Wine writer Alice Feiring of the The Feiring Line has been named a chevalier of the Ordre du Mérite Agricole by the French Ministry of Agriculture. The award dates to 1883, when Agriculture Minister Jules Méline sought to recognize the importance of the agricultural sector to French life and culture. Previous recipients have included food author Elizabeth David, importer Kermit Lynch and sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier. —Susannah Smith
Cullen, of Margaret River in Western Australia, and Emina, of Ribera del Duero in Spain, have submitted applications to join the International Wineries for Climate Action group founded two years ago by Torres Family Wines and Jackson Family Wines. The two join producers such as Spottswoode and Silver Oak aiming to take collective action to decarbonize the global wine industry. To become a member of IWCA, applicants must be powered by at least 20 percent on-site renewable energy, reduce 25 percent of CO2 emissions per unit of wine produced, and complete an annual greenhouse gas audit. —S.S.
Raising the NYS Bar Restaurant Recovery Fund is processing applications for $5,000 dollar grants to independently owned NY restaurants affected by COVID-19. Diageo Wine & Spirits, Southern Glazer Wines & Spirits, The National Development Council (NDC) and New York State provided close to $3 million for the fund, which is coordinated by Empire State Development, and whose grants will be managed by the NDC. —S.S.
Vall Llach’s Winery Collapses
Unusually heavy snowfall collapsed the roof of Priorat winery Vall Llach in the early morning of January 10, 2021. Some areas of Priorat reported snow accumulations of one and a half feet. Most of the winery’s 2019 inventory was inside the building at the time of its collapse, along with a sizable portion of the 2018 vintage. Their 2020 vintage was in the fermentation tanks. —Corey Warren
Maya Dalla Valle has taken over as winemaker at the family estate, Dalla Valle Vineyards. With oenology and business degrees from Cornell University and Bordeaux Sciences Agro, Maya had already become director in 2017 of the winery founded in 1986 by Naoko and late husband, Gustav Dalla Valle. She now follows her mother in the cellar, with Andy Erickson staying on as consulting winemaker. —S.S.
Anne Amie Vineyards has appointed Gabriela Paz Sepulveda Vignes as winemaker to oversee production in Willamette Valley. Vignes came to Oregon in 2016, after working in cellars and vineyards across the globe, including in France, New Zealand, California and her native Chile. —S.S.
Napa veteran Michael Weis has taken the helm at Hindsight Vineyards. Weis brings his decades of experience at Groth and Robert Mondavi Winery to his role in Calistoga. —S.S.
Dominique Demarville has taken over as general manager and cellarmaster at Aÿ-based Champagne Lallier. Demarville took the reins from retiring Francis Tribaut after stints in at G.H. Mumm & Cie, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin and Laurent-Perrier. —S.S.
Elizabeth Kester and Andy Lynch have been promoted at Wente Family Estates in Livermore Valley, CA. Kester, with the company since 2010, has been named Head of Winemaking; Lynch, a Wente employee since 2005, is now the Head of Quality. —S.S.
France’s INAO, the administrative body overseeing AOC regulations, has formally approved the use of six new varieties in Bordeaux. The first plantings of the new grapes (arinarnoa, castets, marselan and touriga nacional for reds; alvarinho and liliorila for whites) are planned for 2021. The varieties were selected to better manage the stresses of a changing climate, warmer temperatures and shorter growing seasons. —C.W.
The Florida-based Hoffmann Family of Companies has begun acquiring land and properties in Augusta, Missouri, for a winery and tourism project. David and Jerri Hoffman plan a 700-acre property that will include vineyards, a hotel and golf course, wineries, and restaurants. The Hoffmans state that, when completed, their winery project will be the largest in the Midwest. —Patrick J. Comiskey
Wilhelm Haag, of Weingut Fritz Haag in Germany’s Mosel, passed away on December 16, 2020 at the age of 83. Haag, who took over his family’s 400-year-old estate in 1957 at age 20, played a critical part in the rise of the Mosel’s vinous reputation. His wines became the model for the region’s riesling, combining juiciness with precision and finesse (a style for which he advocated as chairman of the VDP-Mosel from 1984 to 2004). Haag nurtured two winemakers: his sons Oliver, who took over winemaking at the estate in 2005, and Thomas, who runs Schloss Lieser nearby. —Tara Q. Thomas
Robert Whitley, a wine columnist based in San Diego, died in early February. He was 70 years old. Whitley began his career as a sportswriter in San Diego but soon pivoted to writing about food and wine. He had a syndicated column in the San Diego Union-Tribune, and went on to write for the Copley News Service and Reuters. He founded, with Michael Franz, the Wine Review Online and ran four wine competitions, connecting him to many interlocking California wine circles. —P.J.C.
François Pinon passed away on January 27, 2021. He was 68. Pinon had not intended to take over his family’s domaine in Vouvray and, in fact, had become a psychoanalyst before finding, at age 35, that he needed a change. Known for his lush and detailed chenin blancs, Pinon considered demi-sec and moelleux styles to be the best expressions of his Vouvray terroir. He is survived by father, Claude, daughters Suzanne and Lucie, and son Julien, who had taken over the domaine in 2018. —S.S.
This story appears in the print issue of April 2021.
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