• We always knew wine was fashionable, but this isn't exactly what we had in mind. Researchers at the University of Western Australia have devised a way to make clothes out of spoiled wine. The project, called Micro'be', uses biotechnology to weave the cell walls of the wine into a fiber-like material. The inspiration for the garment material came to researcher Gary Cass when he noticed a skinlike layer covering a vat of wine that had "gone off" due to bacterial contamination. Cass and his team then manipulated that microprocess into the form of a somewhat cavewoman-looking dress. "This technology is not advanced," Cass said. "It is just a new application of technology that's been around." But don't expect a wine run during Fashion Week. "Commercialization is something we have not looked into at the moment," he said, because "there are still some issues with flexibility and, hence wearability, of the Micro'be' dresses." Not only is the dress very delicate, behaving more like tissue paper than cotton, it also won't hold up for long and is best kept wet. Sounds like lots of potential for a fashion disaster.
• Where would you rather live, Virginia or Utah? We'll take Virginia, where showing your love of wine on your license plate doesn't seem to be a problem. In fact, the state is likely to soon offer specialty plates reading, "Virginia, first in wine," along with a picture of wine grapes. But no such chance in Utah. State resident Glenn Eurick was recently told that his MERLOT plate is in violation of the Utah law that prohibits terms that indicate the use of "any narcotic, intoxicant, or illicit drug." (All states have laws about what you can and can't put on your personalized plate, usually prohibiting profane, obscene, offensive, derogatory or sexually explicit terms.) Eurick's 1996 Mercedes has had the MERLOT plate for 10 years, but an anonymous caller pointed out to Utah officials that Merlot was an alcoholic beverage. Eurick, should he challenge the decision, has 30 days to do so, according to the Utah State Tax Commission. Unfiltered hopes he does, and that he wins the fight on a technicality we uncovered: MERLOT could very well stand for the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, right? (This is an honest-to-goodness organization! See www.merlot.org if you don't believe us!)
|You wanna pizza? Gimme da mortgage.|
• A Margaret River winery is taking the concept of going green to a whole new level. Random Valley Organic Wines in Western Australia has received a A$20,555 (US$16,442) grant from the Sustainable Energy Development Office to go toward building the walls of its new tasting room entirely out of used wine bottles. The bottles will be filled with water to act as insulation, and monitored via infrared sensors. "This project is highly science-based," said Random Valley owner Peter Little, who worked on developing solar-powered housing for 30 years prior to entering the wine trade. "We can allow for the coefficient of expansion of the water as its temperature changes with the seasons. We know what to add to prevent algae growth inside." Little said the standalone tasting room (what the Aussies call a "cellar door"), which opens to the public in June, will give customers "a sense of the contributions of recycling, and to demonstrate sustainable energy principles." Just don't throw stones when you're inside the glass cellar door.
• Napa Valley vintner Leslie Rudd has added another element to his empire, this time the iconic Oakville Grocery Store, a popular tourist spot for prepared foods and gourmet goodies on Highway 29. The store, which dates back to 1881, was facing impending bankruptcy before the Rudd Group decided to buy it. (The additional stores in Healdsburg in Sonoma County and the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto are also included in the deal.) Rudd also owns Dean & DeLuca--another gourmet spot in Rutherford--PRESS restaurant and Rudd Vineyards and Winery. The Rudd Group insists they're not worried about competition between, well, themselves, with Dean & DeLuca and Oakville Grocery being just a 10-minute drive away from each other. So, make that a super-duper gourmet sandwich at either place, hold the mayo.
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