Pitcher's "Perfect" Pairing: Wine and Fish(ing)

Plus, Virginia’s Kluge winery fails to sell at a foreclosure auction and a French diplomat is caught red-wine handed stealing Burgundy in Hong Kong
Dec 9, 2010

• Unfiltered was watching when Philadelphia Phillies pitching ace Roy Halladay threw Major League Baseball’s 20th perfect game in history this past May (not to mention his second no-hitter of the season in the first round of this year’s playoffs), but we had no idea what kind of gift the Phillies organization had in store for him. A country boy at heart, Halladay’s favorite hobby is bass fishing, but he apparently shares another passion with fellow Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer: wine. At the end of November, as a reward for his perfect game, the Phillies sent Halladay, his wife and their two sons to Ceàgo Vinegarden winery in California’s Lake County for a wine tasting and fishing excursion. Ceàgo, a biodynamically farmed vineyard and winery owned by Jim Fetzer, is located on the north shore of Clear Lake and features a football field-length pier extending out over the water, where some prime bass fishing is to be had. The Phillies hooked him up with professional angler and 2009 Bassmaster Classic champion Skeet Reese as a guide, and Reese and the Halladays spent an evening of dinner and wine tasting at Ceàgo before heading out on Clear Lake the following morning. “It was kind of unexpected—I don’t follow baseball that much—but I knew there was a famous pitcher coming in,” said Fetzer. “We were just firing up our wood-burning pizza oven and we invited them up to have pizza and drink some wine. The kids threw the dough and we had a great time talking to Roy, who is a really great, down-to-earth guy.” They drank Ceàgo’s Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Cabernet clone 246. “[Skeet and Roy] went fishing the next day, and they came back and we consumed a little more wine, and now he’s the newest wine club member at Ceàgo!”

• Some buyer with deep pockets may pick up the Kluge winery in Charlottesville, Va., for about $19 million to $25 million. But it didn’t happen Wednesday when the property went on auction after foreclosure last month by Farm Credit of Virginia. Attorney Bill Shmidheiser, trustee, said five bidders carrying the required $250,000 cashier's check showed up, but no one bid. Three other buyers who had signaled they would attend failed to arrive. The bank bid it in for $19 million, establishing that price as the minimum bid, and Schmidheiser is hoping that the bank can make a deal with a buyer before the end of the year. “Somebody is going to own that property at a heck of a discount, about 30 to 40 cents on the dollar for 990 acres of valuable Virginia land, 160 acres of vines, winery, warehouse with wine, equipment and a block of housing.” Shmidheiser said. Bank officials, attorneys for Kluge and a crowd of about 70 people, many of them former employees, attended the auction. Kluge tanked in November, owing Farm Credit approximately $35 million. Another auction is scheduled for this Saturday to sell 15,000 cases of wine from the Kluge Estate. Only ABC-licensed sellers are invited.

• Last week, we brought news of the substantial price bumps received by 2008 Lafite and Mouton-Rothschild following revelations that their labels would feature Chinese themes. Apparently, Hong Kong fine-wine lust isn’t limited to the locals. Frenchman Marc Fonbaustier’s passion for Burgundy has cost him his job and possibly damaged relations between France and Hong Kong. According to the U.K.’s Guardian, Fonbaustier was forced to resign from his post as French consul general to Hong Kong last week after being accused of stealing two bottles of Burgundy, worth about $6,500 in total, from the Hong Kong Country Club, an act that was allegedly captured on the club’s closed-circuit television security system. A source from the Hong Kong justice system told the local Apple Daily newspaper that Fonbaustier had also been accused of taking an expensive bottle from the Hong Kong Golf Club some months earlier, but explained to police that he believed the wine had been a gift.

Crime Theft Sports Baseball Winery Purchases and Sales Unfiltered

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