Dr. Laura Catena Appointed WSET’s Honorary President - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Dr. Laura Catena Appointed
WSET’s Honorary President

On April 19, 2023, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) held its annual graduation ceremony at the Guildhall in London, England. WSET CEO Michelle Brampton hosted the event, announcing Dr. Laura Catena, Managing Director of Bodega Catena Zapata, as the new Honorary President. Brampton was joined by previous Honorary President Paul Symington CMG, Executive Director Dave Rudman and Regional Director Rachel Webster.

The organization also welcomed 587 new WSET Diploma graduates from 20 countries—including 131 from the USA. The Outstanding Alumni Award, sponsored by JancisRobinson.com for outstanding contribution in the drinks industry, was awarded to New York’s Alexandra Schrecengost. Schrecengost created Virtual With Us in 2020 and Culture With Us in 2021, platforms designed to bring teams together within remote work models.

This page is regularly updated as Wine & Spirits’ News In Brief section, where we publish news from around the wine world. A new thread of this section is published annually.

April 14, 2023

Cantina Kurtatsch Names Erwin Carli as New Winemaker

Othmar Donà (left) passes the torch to Erwin Carli (right). (Photo courtesy of Cantina Kurtatsch)

Cantina Kurtatsch, a cooperative centered around the Alto Adige village of Kurtatsch, named Erwin Carli as head winemaker in March of 2023. Carli takes the helm from Othmar Donà, who has made the wines at Kurtatsch since 1992 and who had mentored Carli for ten years.

April 7, 2023

Ruffino Extends Vineyard Holdings into Bolgheri

Ruffino also owns the Poggio Casciano Vineyard in Tuscany, pictured above. (Photo courtesy of Ruffino)

On March 29, 2023, Ruffino, a winery in Italy’s Tuscany, acquired 37 acres of vines across two Bolgheri subregions, with 9.9 acres in Via Bolgherese and 27.2 in Sondraie. The first vintage made from the new estate will be 2023, with the intention to release the first wine in 2025. Ruffino plans to build a winery and tasting space on the property over the next few years.

April 5, 2023

Alfred Scheid Passes Away at 91

Al Scheid (Photo Courtesy of Scheid Family)

Alfred “Al” Scheid of Scheid Family Wines passed away last month at the age of 91. Born in Bridgeport, Ohio, in 1932, Scheid came to wine late in his professional life, after successes in the biotech industry. He settled in Monterey County in 1972, where Scheid Family Wines quickly became one of that region’s most important growers—at the time of his death the family’s vineyards well exceeded 4,000 acres, one of the region’s largest growers.

Scheid Family established a winery in 2005, first as a custom-crush facility; Scheid went on to found several brands, including their eponymous label. Scheid, who knew little about grapegrowing when he entered the business, was a founding  member of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) in 1974 and served on its board and as its chair during the organization’s early years.

He was also a founding member of the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association, as well as the first grower to join the Wine Institute in the mid-’70s, when growers’ voices were still very much in the background, and became a leading advocate for sustainable winegrowing. In fact, the California Grape Acreage Report, an invaluable resource for viticultural statistics for winemakers, grapegrowers, forecasters, not to mention historians and journalists, was started at the urging and under the guidance of Scheid in the early 1970s. —Patrick Comiskey

April 4, 2023

Axel Heinz is Named CEO of Château Lascombes

Gaylon Lawrence Jr. and Carlton McCoy at Château Lascombes. (Photo courtesy of Magrino Public Relations Agency)

On March 24, 2023, Gaylon Lawrence Jr. of Lawrence Wine Estates and CEO Carlton McCoy, Jr., MS announced the appointment of Axel Heinz as Chief Executive Officer of Château Lascombes, a second-growth in Margaux. Most recently, Heinz was the Estate Director of Masseto and Ornellaia in Tuscany—he started as winemaker at Ornellaia in 2005. He has previously worked in Bordeaux at Château La Tour Carnet in Saint Laurent du Medoc and studied oenology at the University of Bordeaux. Lawrence Wine Estates also includes Heitz Cellar, Haynes, Burgess, Ink Grade, Brendel and Stony Hill Vineyards.

March 9, 2023

Angelo Clement Sangiacomo Passes Away at Age 92

Angelo Clement Sangiacomo (Photo courtesy of Sangiacomo Family Vineyards)

On February 27, 2023 Angelo Clement Sangiacomo passed away at his home in Sonoma, CA. Sangiacomo helped pioneer some of the first California vineyard-designated wines, like the 1979 Gundlach-Bundschu Sangiacomo Vineyards Chardonnay, and aided in the creation of the Carneros AVA in 1982.  Sangiacomo Family Vineyards is a third-generation family business, now run by Sangiacomo’s children Mike, Steve and Mia.

February 27, 2023

Two New Masters of Wine

On February 24, 2023 the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) announced Poland’s Wojciech Bońkowski and the USA’s Joshua Grainer as Masters of Wine. There are now 416 MWs—267 men and 149 women, from 31 different countries. Bońkowski is a wine writer who founded the wine website Winicjatywa and wine magazine Ferment; he is also the first MW from Poland. Grainer is the managing director and winemaker for Virginia’s RdV Vineyards. The MW exam consists of a theory and practical exam as well as an in-depth research paper on a wine-related topic. 2023 marks the 70th anniversary of the first Master of Wine examination, held in 1953.

IMW also welcomed the Catena Institute of Wine as its third academic and research associate, alongside the Australian Wine Research Institute and Wine in Moderation. The Catena Institute was founded by Laura Catena, the Managing Director of Bodega Catena Zapata, to advance Argentina’s winemaking regions through scientific research. Catena will be the closing keynote speaker at this year’s international symposium in Wiesbaden, Germany.

February 14, 2023

ASI Announces Best Sommelier of the World

First runner-up Nina Jensen, winner Raimonds Tomsons and second runner-up Reeze Choi (Courtesy of ASI)

Raimonds Tomsons of Latvia earned the title of Best Sommelier of the World at the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale’s competition held in Paris on January 12, 2023. France’s Pascaline Lepeltier placed fourth; China’s Reeze Choi was second runner-up and Denmark’s Nina Jensen first runner-up. The three finalists competed in a series of challenges to test their knowledge, including a guessing game in which the contestants were asked to identify a wine based on a sequence of five photographs, with the most points going to a correct guess from the fewest images. They were judged for their grace under pressure and their accuracy in describing and identifying several wines blind; they were also judged on their knowledge and service skills, not only for wine, but for all elements of a diner’s experience over the course of a meal.

This page is regularly updated as Wine & Spirits’ News In Brief section, where we publish news from around the wine world. A new thread of this section is published annually.

February 2, 2023

Rombauer Acquires Sonoma Vineyard, Carriger Two

Rombauer’s Carriger Two in Sonoma Valley (Courtesy of Rombauer)

On January 25, 2023, Rombauer Vineyards acquired Carriger Two, with its 54 acres planted to vines. The Sonoma Valley vineyard has been a primary source for Rombauer’s sauvignon blanc—a wine they added to their portfolio in 2014—and is adjacent to Carriger One, a vineyard they purchased in 2022.

This page is regularly updated as Wine & Spirits’ News In Brief section, where we publish news from around the wine world. A new thread of this section is published annually.

January 26, 2023

The TTB Officially Recognizes Bolivian Singani

Steven Soderbergh partnered with Casa Real to create Singani 63 in 2014. (Courtesy of Singani 63)

On January 17, 2023, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) recognized Bolivian Singani as a unique type of Brandy. The spirit must be distilled from Muscat of Alexandria and grown at a minimum altitude of 5,250 feet in specified regions of the country. Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh led the eight-year campaign lobbying the TTB; he had partnered with Bolivia’s Casa Real to create Singani 63 in 2014. In exchange for U.S. recognition of Singani, Bolivia will become the 44th country to legally recognize Bourbon Whiskey and Tennessee Whiskey as distinctive products of the United States.

January 16, 2023

González Byass Appoints New Winemaker in Chile

Gonzalo Bertelsen in the vineyard. (Courtesy of Viñedos Veramonte and Viña Neyen de Apalta)

Gonzalo Bertelsen has been named head winemaker for González Byass’s two Chilean wineries Viñedos Veramonte in Casablanca (including Ritual) and Viña Neyen de Apalta in Colchagua (including Primus). Bertelsen’s resume includes experience at TerraMater, Caliterra and Finca el Origen.

January 10, 2023

The Roots Fund’s Second Annual Auction Gala

From left: Madeline Puckette of Folly Enterprises with The Roots Fund founders Tahiirah Habibi, Carlton McCoy, Jr and Ikimi Dubose-Woodson at last year’s gala. (Photo: Kyle Huey)

The Roots Fund, a non-profit dedicated to addressing diversity within the wine industry, will partner with Zachys Wine Auctions for the second annual Roots Fund Auction Gala on March 5, 2023 in NYC. The gala includes a dinner and both in-person and virtual auctions of wines. Selections include wines from Domaine Dujac and Heitz Cellars, as well as experiences, like trips to South Africa and Champagne, donated by wineries from all over the world. The 2022 auction raised over $400,000, used to fund education, mentorship and job placement opportunities for the BIPOC community within the wine industry. For information, visit RTF’s website. [https://www.therootsfund.org/auction-donations]

This page is regularly updated as Wine & Spirits’ News In Brief section, where we publish news from around the wine world. A new thread of this section is published annually.

Based in Los Angeles, California, Alissa Bica is the Spirits Editor and Critic at Wine & Spirits. She is also a Certified Sommelier and co-runs the home wine tasting company, Côte Brune and Blonde. In any rare moments of free time, she writes about obscure grape varieties in the blog Off the Beaten Wine Path.

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