• Party girl Paris Hilton is in the middle of yet another controversy. No, not that kind of controversy. Get your mind out of the gutter. This week, the drama is swirling around Rich Prosecco, a sparkling white wine from Veneto that comes in a gold can, and Hilton's connection to it as the product's new pitch girl. Italy's Road Safety Society is reportedly outraged that Hilton--who was arrested earlier this month after failing a Breathalyzer test when she was pulled over by police in Hollywood--is starring in ads for an alcoholic beverage. To make matters worse, some of Veneto's prosecco producers are protesting the canned variation, insisting it will tarnish the image of their beloved wine. Others, however, say there's no need for sour grapes. "No one gets upset over caviar being sold in a can," Luca Zaia, Veneto's vice president for agricultural affairs, told the Italian news service ANSA. "So I don't see what all the fuss is about." Despite the scandal, Hilton continues her promotional partying spree. On Monday, she dressed as a Bavarian barmaid in Munich to hawk the sparkling beverage, then flew to Veneto via helicopter for a publicity shoot. Not to worry, she wasn't at the controls.
|Ian Woosnam blew his cork after Europe won the Ryder Cup.|
|Thankfully, Jacques Pepin didn't try to carve up his bull and cook it.|
• Anxiety is standard operating procedure for winemakers during fall. They worry about when to pick their grapes, then about their fermentations. But last Friday, Napa winemaker Karen Culler may have set a new standard for harvest-season stress. Following an unusually windy night, she was checking on the Ladera Lone Canyon Vineyard in the hills west of Yountville and noticed a downed power line next to the property. Sparks were flying, and a fire had started. She called 911, then drove to the Yountville Fire Station. By the time firefighting staff and equipment arrived on site, the fire was raging, fanned by heavy winds. It took until Sunday to get things more-or-less under control, at which point the flames had charred 400 acres of brush, though no vineyards or homes. According to the Napa Valley Register, 558 personnel from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection fought the blaze, along with helicopters, planes and bulldozers. The bill for their efforts came to a reported $3.5 million. Culler, who spoke to Wine Spectator a few weeks ago about the slow ripening of Napa Cabernet vineyards this year, retained a sense of humor about the experience: "You know how I said we really needed some fall heat? This wasn't what I had in mind," she said.
• August and September have not been kind to New York winemakers--rain and cool weather has delayed the harvest. But the skies were kind enough to clear on the evening of Aug. 25, just long enough for Susan Wine and Bob Ransom to tie the knot. The two, who co-own Rivendell winery in the Hudson River Valley and the Vintage New York wine shops and a wine bar in Manhattan, have been together for 11 years and finally decided to make things official. "A lot of people thought we were already married," said Ransom. More than 60 guests gathered under a grove of ash trees near the couple's New Paltz, N.Y, home for the ceremony, which mixed traditions from several different faiths. Then at the reception, everyone toasted with a Chateau Frank sparkling wine from the Finger Lakes. This is the second marriage for both Wine, 60, and Ransom, 47, and they danced to "The Second Time Around." Ransom says the honeymoon will have to wait for a few months, however. "We are in the wine business and we are heading into harvest--that's no time for a vacation." Wine says she'll be keeping her name, which Unfiltered thinks is the right move.
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