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Martha Stewart gets a wine brand, Coppola is making the band, Korbel on Big Brother, New York wines in DC and a new Napa hot spot

Posted: September 19, 2007

• When word arrived last week that Martha Stewart was producing her own line of wine, our devious side went into overdrive. "First," we imagined Stewart advising her customers, "you make the wine bottle yourself by mixing sand and soda ash over the kitchen stove and …" Or perhaps she cross-pollinated her own new varietal, a festive red that's perfect for serving at parties but doesn't stain the carpet? Actually, Stewart has teamed up with E&J Gallo for a new label dubbed Martha Stewart Vintage. The initial release will include three wines, a Sonoma County Chardonnay 2006, a Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 and Sonoma County Merlot 2006, each selling for $15. About 15,000 cases were made and the wines will be available for sale in January in a limited number of cities: Atlanta; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Denver; Phoenix; and Portland, Ore. Stewart joins a growing list of celebrities with their own wine labels, though none of them could tell you what doily looks best beneath the bottles.

Will Coppola get Scorcese to play drums?
Francis Ford Coppola may be pushing 70, but he shows no signs of slowing down. He directs movies (The Godfather), produces them (Lost in Translation), owns a line of food products, a resort in Belize, wineries in Napa and Sonoma and restaurants around the San Francisco Bay area. So what more could the man want? To play tuba in a town band, apparently. According to local media reports, Coppola is one of the founders of a new community band in St. Helena, Calif. The band is sponsored by Coppola's Rubicon winery in nearby Rutherford, the city he calls home. Auditions for the band were held at the St. Helena Oddfellows Hall in August, open to the musically inclined of all ages. Of course, this got us thinking. Could Coppola be researching a remake of The Music Man? We can just see him out front, marching with the big baton: "Seeeeeeeeventy-six trombones (tubas?) led the big parade!" Hmm, maybe not.

• Fans of CBS reality show Big Brother 8 couldn't help but notice the product placement of Korbel sparkling wine on recent episodes. Sure, you're probably either thrilled or disgusted that the final two houseguest contestants were the father and daughter duo of "Evil" Dick and Danielle Donato (Dick won the half-million-dollar prize last night with a resounding 5-2 vote). But did you notice that the final two celebrated with a bottle of Korbel, which the camera kept lingering over? How could you not? What wasn't shown, however, were Dick's snarky comments—seen by BB8 geeks on the live Internet feeds—about said bottle of the Korbel provided. "They spared no expense," Dick, a bar manager, grumbled. "It's no Perrier-Jouet." Oh, snap! Korbel probably won't be asking the Donatos to do endorsements.

Sen. Clinton stopped to pose with some Finger Lakes winemakers. It's a safe bet she has their votes.
• Capitol Hill was buzzing Tuesday evening, and it wasn't because of someone's wide stance in the bathroom. New York wineries were pouring their best stuff for senators, congressmen and their thirsty aides at Senator Hillary Clinton's New York Farm Day event. Clinton has partnered with the New York Wine & Grape Foundation for six straight years to bring winemakers, farmers and restaurants to Washington to show off the bounty of New York farm country. "Senator Clinton asked me in 2001, 'How can I educate my colleagues that New York is a farm state?'" said Foundation president Jim Trezize. Clinton took time off from the campaign trail to welcome people to the two-hour event, where 40 wineries from Long Island, the Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes, Lake Erie and Niagara joined farmers and restaurant chefs at regional tables to show off their wares. Trezize said that more than 600 people eagerly attended. But the party also had a purpose: New York and other winemaking states are lobbying Congress to include more help for grapes and other "specialty crops" in the Farm Bill. Most of that bill's largesse currently goes to big grain-producing states.

• Unfiltered has a new favorite spot: Ubuntu, a combo vegetarian restaurant and yoga studio right in downtown Napa. Sure, it seems like an odd combination, but just one bite of Ubuntu's vandouvan-spice cauliflower in a cast-iron pot might inspire you to get up and stand in warrior two pose. It's that good. Owner Sandy Lawrence and husband-and-wife chef team Jeremy and Deanie Fox (recent chef du cuisine and pastry chef at the Michelin 2-star Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos, Calif.), have a flair with sophisticated vegetarian cuisine, such as fried cherry peppers, grilled peach panzanella and cheesecake with succulent grapes served in a jar (note to other establishments: Transportable cheesecake is a very good idea). The whole concept (including the yoga studio upstairs, with dozens of classes a week), is about sustainability: The restaurant's furniture is from reclaimed wood; produce comes from local farms and Ubuntu's own biodynamic gardens; and a majority of the 200 wines on the list come from sustainably farmed grapes. If it all sounds too granola for you, not to worry—just a couple doors down is Napa's only steakhouse, Cole's Chop House.

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