Austria's Wine-Industry Calendar Girls

Plus, Gérard Depardieu wants to sell his wineries in France (and everything else he owns there), the Catalina Wine Mixer from Step Brothers is actually happening, and much more
Austria's Wine-Industry Calendar Girls
K+K Kirnbauer winery's Alexandra Kirnbauer barrels her way into the hearts of Austrian wine fans everywhere. (Kreativ Consulting)
Sep 10, 2015

In what has become an autumn tradition in Austria, the 2016 Jungwinzerinnen Kalender, or Young Female Winemakers Calendar, has been published, no doubt soon to set the Internet atwitter with its women of the Austrian wine industry posed in lingerie around Austria's equally beautiful vineyards and cellars. Ellen Ledermüller-Reiner created the concept with the 2004 vintage, and it's now considered a bona fide "ambassador for Austrian wines and their young winemaker generation," she told Unfiltered.

Every year, there's a gala in Vienna to launch the calendar (Gary Howard of British a cappella group the Flying Pickets was on hand, as well as the models and some alumna—now with their kinder in tow). The models are winemaker daughters, sisters, nieces, winery employees and winemakers themselves—not professional models—so, as Ledermüller-Reiner said, they "often tell me that they are a bit nervous [and] excited at the beginning, but get more and more relaxed during the shooting." And some, in fact, are approached by modeling agencies after appearing in the calender. But Frau Oktober Stefanie Sauer will likely be too busy with the harvest and vinification of her Riesling, Zweigelt and "Femme Fatale" Muskat, as will Frau März Alexandra Kirnbauer, poised to represent the next generation at her family's K+K Kirnbauer winery. The calendars are $28 and can be ordered from Ledermüller-Reiner's Kreativ Consulting.

Photo Gallery

Alexandra Kirnbauer Marion Lehner Julia Diwald Weingut Topf's Marie

Gérard Depardieu Wants to Sell His French Wine Holdings

Gérard Depardieu is saying au revoir to his French vineyards, the latest act in a string of efforts to forsake his native France. The actor left the country in 2012 when a 75 percent tax rate on the country's highest earners went into effect. In the years following, Depardieu moved to Belgium, relinquished his French passport and gained Russian citizenship from Pres. Vladimir Putin. But his loyalty to his beloved French wineries has persisted, until now.

"I think that I'm going to sell everything in France. I no longer want to be part of this country, even if I like the French," Depardieu said in a recent interview with Le Figaro's TV Magazine. Citing frustration with the government's use of tax money, he continued, "I no longer want to own properties. I just want to go elsewhere, rent a place, live and die." If he stays true to his word, Depardieu will shed multiple Paris dining locales, including La Fontaine Gaillon restaurant, a wine bar and wineries from his portfolio. He currently maintains a stake in Lussac-St.-Emilion's La Croix de Peyrolie and Le Bien Decidé in the Languedoc with business partner and Bordeaux wine magnate Bernard Magrez, and is the primary owner of Château de Tigné in Anjou.


It's the [Expletive Deleted] Catalina Wine Mixer!!!

In 2008, when producer Judd Apatow, director Adam Mckay and actors Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly got the crew from their hit film Talladega Nights back together to make Step Brothers, critics weren't terribly impressed, but it earned a cult of devotees for its over-the-top raunchy slapstick. Seven years later, the most memorable scene from the underdog buddy comedy is coming to life.

The Catalina Wine Mixer—the heretofore fictional event that became the film’s pivotal setting for step brothers Brennan's (Ferrell) and Dale’s (Reilly) on-stage reconciliation—is now a real event, going down this Sunday, Sept. 13, at Descanso Beach Club on California's Catalina Island. The small island is home to El Rancho Escondido, a vineyard owned by the Rusack family, but for this soiree the wine will be courtesy of Trinchero Family Estates, so expect some Joel Gott, Napa Cellars, Taken Wine Co. and Folie a Deux. And lots of helicopter rides: Island Express Helicopters and Descanso Beach Club will be ferrying guests to and from the island via chopper, just like in the movie, as well as offering discounted helicopter tours of the island to event attendees.

There's no confirmation that either Step Brother might appear, let alone take the mic to revisit their memorable Catalina Wine Mixer mash-up of "Por Ti Volare," the Spanish version of Andrea Bocelli’s "Time to Say Goodbye" and the duo’s own less-lauded single. But there will be music courtesy of The Dan Band, an '80s cover band that has appeared in another classic Ferrell film, Old School, as well as in The Hangover. Either way, with general admission starting at $35 (VIP $100) and an expected crowd of around 600 (10 percent of ticket sales will be donated to the Santa Catalina Island Fund to help local students pursue higher education), there will be lots of cover songs, lots of helicopters, and lots of people exclaiming the film's hit line, "It's the f*cking Catalina Wine Mixer!"


Wineries May Get Illinois Lawsuit Reprieve

Changes stemming from a lawsuit initiated by the Wine Institute to counter Illinois False Claim suits may be in the works. After dozens of lawsuits involving Chicago whistleblower attorney Steven Diamond and wineries and liquor retailers, the Illinois department of revenue issued a proposal to reinterpret a law that requires businesses to collect sales taxes for the state. Diamond and his firm have targeted hundreds of wineries and retailers over the past decade, making money off collecting funds from filing suit against them, claiming that they failed to pay taxes for goods shipped to Illinois.

Now that the Wine Institute has stepped in in defense of the wineries—many of which settled out of court to avoid costly legal fees—an end to current and future False Claims suits may be on the horizon. Proposed rules maintain that wineries and retailers selling wine to Illinois consumers are not required to collect sales tax on shipping and handling charges if charges are separate from the price of wine; there is a pick-up option; and the price of wine doesn’t change depending on whether the wine is shipped or picked up.

The Illinois Attorney General's office has already dismissed more than 80 cases filed, but hundreds still hang in the balance. The most critical piece that offers aid is that offering a pick-up option relieves a business of the duty to collect tax. One hiccup, however, is that a winery may still be liable for taxes not collected during any period that an option was not offered. A 45-day rule-making process is already in effect, which means wineries and retailers must act promptly and provide an affidavit that specifies the details of their pick-up option, and present their statement to the attorney general by Sept. 15.


Wineries, Chefs and the Central Park Zoo Make a Splash for Charity

The third-annual Sip for the Sea event will be held next week in New York's Wildlife Conservation Society Central Park Zoo. Wines from Jekel Vineyards will be poured alongside dishes from nearly 20 restaurants, including Esca, Tavern on the Green, Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner Casa Mono and Award of Excellence winner Atlantic Grill. Tickets for the event start at $200, available at WCS.org/SipfortheSea, and the proceeds benefit the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium. Wine Spectator serves as the media partner for Sip for the Sea, and Unfiltered recommends attendees arrive early so as not to miss the live seal show … just don't try to toss the performers any of the hors d'oeuvres.

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