News in Brief from W&S December 2020 - Wine & Spirits Magazine

News in Brief from W&S December 2020

Taras Ochota

Taras Ochota, a punk rocker-turned-winemaker, died on October 12, 2020 after an illness. The 49-yearold ran Ochota Barrels in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills, crafting a wild range of wines that redefined what US drinkers often think of as “Aussie” wine.

Dolores Cakebread, co-founder with her husband, Jack, of Napa Valley’s Cakebread Cellars, died October 2, 2020. She was 90.

Lulu Peyraud of Domaine Tempier in Bandol, France, died October 7, 2020, at the age of 102. Her wines, as well as her cooking and sense of hospitality, are what drew the attention of writer Richard Olney, who introduced her to Alice Waters at Chez Panisse and to importer Kermit Lynch.

Ken Evenstad, founder of Domaine Serene Winery with his wife, Grace, died at his home in late October after a long illness. He was 77.

Echolands, the Washington winery founded in 2018 by Doug Frost, MS, MW, and conservationist Brad Bergman, has acquired Mill Creek, a 340-acre site in the Walla Walla AVA. Previously planted to grains, the site has never before been cultivated as a vineyard.

Napa’s Diamond Creek Vineyards has a new team at its helm: Nicole Carter, president of Merry Edwards Winery, will now also lead Diamond Creek; winemaker Graham Wehmeier (Futo, Cornell and Merryvale) will take over from Phil Steinschriber, winemaker since 1991, as Steinschriber retires.

Nicole Carter
Graham Wehmeier

Bâtonnage, a forum dedicated to women in wine, has launched a mentorship program focused on increasing equity in the wine world. The program will offer mentees support in five areas: winemaking, viticulture, sales/marketing, retail and hospitality. More details are available at

Timothy Malone has taken over the role of head winemaker at J. Christopher wines. 2020 will be his first vintage in charge, having worked as the assistant winemaker at the winery from 2008 to 2015. Malone will continue to produce wines under his own label, Timothy Malone Wines.

Chris Fletcher

Chris Fletcher has been promoted from Assistant to Master Distiller for Jack Daniel’s. Born and raised in Lynchburg, Fletcher is the grandson of former Master Distiller Frank Bobo, who served in the role from 1966 until retiring in 1989. Fletcher will also oversee the company’s new Distillers in Training program.

Ruster Ausbruch is now Austria’s 16th DAC (Districtus Austriae Controllatus, the Austrian equivalent of a PDO), and the first exclusively for sweet wine. Unique to the area around Rust, a town on Lake Neusiedl’s western shore, these botrytis-affected wines have been highly regarded since the 1500s. The Ruster Ausbruch regulations now specify that the wines come entirely from hand-picked, botrytis-affected grapes grown within Rust’s municipal limits, and achieve at least 45 g/l residual sugar.

This story appears in the print issue of December 2020.
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