OLN was shocked and saddened to learn today that the UK office of the Wine Institute of California will close due to severe cuts in funding from the Department of Agriculture in Washington DC.

Casillero del Diablo and Barefoot have posted strong value growth figures to surge up the table of the UK’s bestselling wine brands.

Retailers and suppliers are buoyant about their chances of growing sales over the next few years, despite 45% saying the EU referendum result has hit their businesses.

Spirits are driving 0.9% value growth in the £15.8 billion off-trade BWS market (Nielsen, year to April 23, 2016) and, while alcohol consumption is in long-term decline, “quality is winning over quantity”, according to a leading supplier.

Karla & Co Spirits, together with Gas Familia Distillery, are introducing the first Slovakian vodka on the UK market.

Andrew Shaw’s influence over the UK wine trade has soared in the past couple of years and he is now arguably its leading buyer. Two years ago he was in charge of buying for Bibendum, one of the UK’s biggest agencies, which was a big job in itself for the former Waitrose wine supremo. But thanks to a series of mergers and acquisitions he is now in charge of buying for Bibendum, PLB, Matthew Clark, Bargain Booze, Thorougoods, Wine Rack and more.

Caorunn Gin has opened up its distillery to give gin fans the chance to learn about the botanicals and production processes for its gin.

Berry Bros & Rudd has appointed Nick Morton in the new role of director of private clients.

Burleighs, the Leicestershire-based gin producer, is releasing a Pink edition, inspired by its master distiller’s trip to Tokyo.

English winemakers look set to earmark 2016 as their strongest year to date as sales and award wins continue to soar.

Eisberg has agreed a three-year partnership to become the Official Wine Partner for the Tour of Britain.

Three Ships Whisky has released its limited edition 10 Year Old Single Malt, described by the master distiller as “the most powerful single malt he has produced”.

Lanchester Wines has appointed Barney Davis as its new head of commercial operations.

Craft Clubs, the company behind subscription drinks service Craft Gin Club and Bubble Club, has seen its membership grow by 70% following it’s successful appearance on TV show Dragon’s Den.

Kopke, the oldest Port wine house, has launched its 1996 Colheita Port into the UK via M&S online.

Sud de France, the umbrella brand for wine, food and tourism products from southern France, has announced that its 10th anniversary celebrations will commence shortly after its Portfolio Tasting event in London on 5 October.

Aldi has added 25 limited-edition wines to its range as part of the retailer’s inaugural on-shelf wine festival.

St Peter’s Brewery has added an alcohol-free offering to its line up of beers.

Take 60 people and shut them in a room with more than 700 of the world’s finest beers. It sounds like a recipe for the greatest party ever but this is serious business – judgement day at the International Beer Challenge.

Wine sales at The Co-operative Group are buoyant following the roll out of a new ranging system in the spring.

Chateau de Haute-Serre has released two vintages in the UK with initial listings in Oddbins.

Graham Norton is releasing a red wine to join the Sauvignon Blanc he launched last year; this follows last week’s news that production would be ramped up by 50% for his 2016 white wines in order to meet soaring demand.

Berry Bros & Rudd and Champagne house Pol Roger are jointly campaigning for the return of imperial pints of Champagne, with the hope that Brexit could provide an opportunity for this “perfect-sized” bottle’s revival.

Halewood’s Rioja brand Marques de Caceres will be the key sponsor of a four-day Spanish festival in Manchester this September.

The University of Lincoln has expressed disappointment over the news that a nearby supermarket has been granted a 24 hour license to sell alcohol, despite submitting a “significant objection” when a proposal to change the license was initially made. 

The Association of Convenience Stores has welcomed new proposed sentencing guidelines to help magistrates deal with alcohol related offences.

The first One Day Vineyard Olympics saw eleven UK vineyards fight it out to win the top accolade as well as raising over £700 for charity Benevolent.

The winner of this year’s Camra Supreme Champion Beer of Britain, Bingham’s Vanilla Stout, has been “indundated” with interest since winning the award yesterday.

Conviviality Retail has launched its first ever two-year Future Buyers Programme as part of its strategy to expand its wine buying team and invest in future talent.

Ridgeview Wine Estate has become the first big name in the wine world to switch its distribution over to Bibendum following the distributor's acquisition by wine supply giant Conviviality earlier this year.

Spirit Cartel has added Pyrat Xo Reserve Rum to its portfolio of premium spirits.

Camra is calling for a consultation following the results of a survey that showed more than half of the public disagree with official health guidelines on alcohol consumption.

Mitchells Wines in Sheffield is gearing up to open a brewing operation called Mitchell’s Hop House Brewing next to its existing store. 

The Wine Show presenter Joe Fattorini is to run the Médoc Marathon in aid of the drinks trade charity, The Benevolent.

Upmarket retailer Booths has trebled its range of English wines by adding 12 new SKUs from six different producers to its shelves.

Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand was awarded a 13% salary increase in the wake of the Spirit deal, its annual report for 2016 has revealed.

Former front bench minister Lord Francis Maude of Horsham will bring expertise on UK trading arrangements to the annual WSTA conference, which focuses on the impact of the EU referendum result.

Sales of Brazilian wine are up 106% in the UK and retailers sold as much wine from the country in the first three months of 2016 as they did in all of 2015, according to Wines of Brasil.

Waitrose is running its first ever drinks festival in London next month in partnership with more than 200 producers.

Hallgarten Druitt & Novum has strengthened its New World portfolio by taking over distribution of most of Hallowed Ground’s Australian producers.

Diageo GB has reported its third year of continuous growth for its GB portfolio, driven by the success of its Reserve business, innovation pipeline and Guinness.

Buoyant beer sales in the retail channel during Euro 2016 drove a 4.8% growth in the category in the second quarter of 2016.

Majestic chief executive Rowan Gormley has requested for his bonus to be distributed to his staff, netting them a sum that could total more than £7m, equating to around £14,000 per employee.

Black Tower has expanded its range of fruit flavoured lower alcohol wines in time for the key summer period.

Halewood Wine & Spirits has snapped up a “significant stake” in West Cork Distillers.

Virgin Wines is scrapping the £7.99 delivery charge for all Wine Bank customers in a bid to reward loyalty and recruit new shoppers.

Wines of Brasil is teaming up with OLN to offer independent wine merchants the chance to wine a four-day trip to the Brazil to visit its wine regions and sample some of its best wines.

Craft Clubs, the company behind subscription drinks service Craft Gin Club and Bubble Club, has secured an investment of £75,000 from food and drink entrepreneur and London Cocktail Club co-founder Sarah Willingham.

Friarwood Fine Wines has set up a partnership to distribute the Canadian Benjamin Bridge winery’s traditional method sparkling wines throughout the UK.

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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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