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The Supreme Court Rebuffs Wine Retailers

Plus, Australian winemaker Daryl Groom goes to Walgreens and Southern Wine and Spirits’ Mel Dick is elevated to officier of France’s Grand Chancellery of the Legion of Honor

Posted: March 10, 2011

• Wine retailers had high hopes this month for an audience with the United States Supreme Court on the issue of direct interstate shipping from retailers to consumers. Unfortunately for them, the justices declined to hear their appeal of a Fifth Circuit Court ruling in Texas. The Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America applauded the decision. In a statement issued this week, WSWA president Craig Wolf said, “We are pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision, but unfortunately, the battles continue. Since 2005, more than half of the states have faced challenges in federal courts that threaten their authority to regulate alcohol and their ability to maintain a licensed system of alcohol controls. This Texas case is indicative of the long and costly fight states are engaged in to defend their alcohol laws from litigation designed to eviscerate state control over alcohol policy decisions.” Attorney Tracy Genesen, lead council representing wine retailers for the case, told Wine Spectator today that the fight was far from over, however. Genesen said, “To use a bad analogy, we’re not quite ripe yet as far as the Supreme Court is concerned.”

Daryl Groom, the winemaker who once crafted the legendary reds of Australia’s Penfolds, is now putting his skills toward heart health. His 12-year-old son Colby was born with an atrial septal defect—essentially, a hole in his heart—that to fix required a mechanical heart valve from the St. Jude Medical Foundation. Now, Daryl and Colby are giving back to heart research, with wine. The new Colby Red from Treasury Wine Estates (parent company of Penfolds) is a blend of California Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah and other grapes, and it will be sold exclusively at Walgreen’s. The wine is a friend to both wallet and conscience—it sells for $13, and the Groom family and Treasury plan to donate $100,000 to the American Heart Association in the first vintage alone.

• France’s Grand Chancellery of the Legion of Honor has shown double appreciation for food and wine industry Americans recently with two new bestowals. Mel Dick, senior vice president and wine division president of distributor Southern Wine and Spirits, was recently elevated in the Legion’s ranks from Chevalier to Officier this past month in Miami. The honor was given in recognition of the Brooklyn native’s role in the advancement of French culture through the promotion of wine and spirits. Dick received his original decoration of Chevalier in November 2000. On the food industry side, Thomas Keller, chef and owner of Wine Spectator Grand Award winner the French Laundry, will be named Chevalier by the Legion for his dedication to French cuisine in the U.S. The presentation will take place at Keller’s New York outpost, Per Se, at the end of the month. The Legion of Honor is France’s highest post-revolution national award. Established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the designation is awarded to military and civil individuals regardless of nationality. Other American Francophiles to claim the honor include Julia Child and Alice Waters.

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