New Zealand wineries owner gave nearly $400,000 to Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump

New Zealanders may be surprised to know that the backer of many of their favourite wine brands is a Trump supporter, commentators say.

Bill Foley is an American billionaire whose Foley Family Wines Holdings has the majority stake in Foley Wines, which owns wine brands including Mt Difficulty, Te Kairanga, Vavasour, Roaring Meg, Dashwood, Russian Jack and Boatshed Bay as well as Lighthouse Gin.

A report by the San Francisco Chronicle said Foley had donated US$255,600 (NZ$393,939) to the United States President Donald Trump between 2016 and 2020.

It was the second-largest donation by a California vintner or winery executive to the Trump campaign, the paper said.

The biggest was from Tom Barrack at Happy Canyon Vineyard, worth US$360,600.

Foley Wines has been approached for comment.

David Cormack, who runs PR firm Draper Cormack, said the donations could put New Zealanders off the products.

Mt Difficulty Inspiration Cuvée Pinot Noir 2013
Mt Difficulty Inspiration Cuvée Pinot Noir 2013

“Many New Zealanders would be deeply disappointed if they learned that some of their favourite so-called Kiwi brands were owned by a Trump-supporting American.”

But Bodo Lang, head of marketing at the University of Auckland, said he thought it unlikely to make a difference.

“There are two reasons for this. Firstly, most wine drinkers are unlikely to be aware of Foley’s political ideology and secondly, even if they are, New Zealand is a relatively apolitical country, meaning that our involvement with politics is relatively low. However, this could change depending on future actions of Trump and how vocal Foley is in his support of Trump.”

Billionaire wine magnate Bill Foley is investing heavily in his South Wairarapa assets.
Billionaire wine magnate Bill Foley is investing heavily in his South Wairarapa assets.

Another marketing commentator, Ben Goodale, said the donations would be a corporate decision made in the United States, rather than anything to do with local winemakers and specific brands.

“It would be a shame to vilify great Kiwi wines because the parent company donate to the worst US president in history.”

In 2010, Foley and two other parties bought the South Wairarapa luxury lodge Wharekauhau. At the time, the property was estimated to be worth $24 million.

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Project to explore turning waste into hand sanitiser

Maia Hart, May 26 2020 | stuff.co.nz

The stems and seeds leftover after pressing left grape marc, which in Marlborough was around 46,000 tonnes of waste a year. | STUFF
The stems and seeds leftover after pressing left grape marc, which in Marlborough was around 46,000 tonnes of waste a year. | STUFF

Turning waste into hand sanitiser is the next project for a research winery based in Marlborough.

The Ministry of Business and Innovation (MBIE) has awarded $84,700 in funding to Bragato Research Institute (BRI) for a pilot study exploring turning grape marc into hand sanitiser.

Grape marc is the stems and seeds leftover after pressing – which in Marlborough can total as much as 46,000 tonnes of waste per year.

The study would look to turn winery waste into ethanol. Any sanitiser made in the initial eight-month study would be bottled and donated to Marlborough health workers and first responders.

Bragato Research Institute chief executive MJ Loza said the industry was continuously looking at alternative uses for grape marc, and Covid-19 presented BRI with “an opportunity to learn more about its properties while exploring a potential business case for a new product”.

Bragato Research Institute chief executive MJ Loza said the industry was continuously looking at alternative uses for grape marc. | SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF
Bragato Research Institute chief executive MJ Loza said the industry was continuously looking at alternative uses for grape marc. | SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

“Using winery waste to produce ethanol for hand sanitiser is untested in the New Zealand context with our varietals. We haven’t had the capability to conduct a study like this in New Zealand until now,” Loza said.

“Managing grape marc has probably been viewed as a disposal issue. However, the marc itself is increasingly being studied for other properties.

“Transforming the wine industry’s waste into a value stream is a research priority. Every time we study grape marc, we learn a little more about its potential for a new commercial product.”

In the long term, the project would explore the business opportunity for the industry to turn waste into sanitiser, which would include “more information on costs, the infrastructure needed and technical findings specific to grape marc produced in New Zealand”.

“We know that grape marc is rich in valuable compounds. The challenges lie in finding a new economy for grape marc without creating a bigger environmental footprint, as well as finding a financially viable market for a new product,” Loza said.

Bragato Research Institute trials winemaking equipment, technologies and processes. | SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF
Bragato Research Institute trials winemaking equipment, technologies and processes. | SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Funding for the project was secured through MBIE’s Covid-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund, which was created to support research and projects in covid responses, and provide support to develop and deploy products, processes and services.

The project would be led by winery research manager Dr Tanya Rutan and research programme manager Dr Matias Kinzurik.

Bragato officially opened their research winery in February, based at the Blenheim campus of Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

The new facility will trial winemaking equipment, technologies and processes as well as sustainable winery operations.

It will also provide commercial research winemaking services to suppliers and the industry.

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Distilleries pause alcohol production to make hand sanitizer

Michael Rubikam and Lisa Rathke | Mar 17 2020 | stuff.co.nz

​A US distillery owner who grew increasingly angry as he saw the skyrocketing price of hand sanitiser has decided to do something about it: He’s temporarily converting his operation into a production line for the suddenly hard-to-find, gooey, alcohol-based disinfectant.

Eight Oaks Farm Distillery is temporarily converting its operation into a production line for hand sanitister. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
Eight Oaks Farm Distillery is temporarily converting its operation into a production line for hand sanitister. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
Eight Oaks Farm Distillery filled its first 20 bottles this week, a batch destined for charitable groups that need hand sanitiser but haven’t been able to get it due to the coronavirus pandemic. The family-owned distillery plans to dramatically boost production this week and distribute the bottles to charities as well as offer them at farmers’ markets where it sells its spirits and through its website.

The price: whatever people decide to donate.

“We are in a national emergency,” said brewery founder Chad Butters. “What’s the right thing to do? The right thing to do is support this community by providing something that is in desperate need. We’ll flood the valley with hand sanitiser and drive that price right down.”

Chad Butters, founder of Eight Oaks Farm Distillery, at his facility in Pennsylvania. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
Chad Butters, founder of Eight Oaks Farm Distillery, at his facility in Pennsylvania. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
Other distilleries are also putting their spirits to work to help fill the shortage of hand sanitisers. Green Mountain Distillers in Morrisville, Vermont, is giving away a hand sanitising solution and Durham Distillery in Durham, North Carolina, is donating one to hospitality colleagues, using high-proof alcohol and other ingredients. Patrons must bring their own containers.

“We wanted to do something that would be as positive as possible,” said Harold Faircloth, an owner of Green Mountain Distillers.

Smugglers’ Notch Distillery, also in Vermont, plans to launch a hand sanitiser later this week at its Waterbury and Jeffersonville sites. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Vermont’s efforts to respond to the virus outbreak.

“I know I have a unique opportunity to help out a little bit and keep my staff employed,” said co-owner Jeremy Elliott, who said 40 per cent of his business comes from bars and restaurants, which are closing in some other parts of the country.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a trade group, has been in touch with federal regulatory agencies as well as the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force to clear red tape and “make sure we can be quick and nimble and fill a need in the marketplace”, said chief executive Chris Swonger. “We all want to do our part.”

Swonger said government agencies have been very receptive.

Customers can decide how much to donate for a bottle of hand sanitiser. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
Customers can decide how much to donate for a bottle of hand sanitiser. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
At Eight Oaks Farm Distillery, about 115 kilometres north of Philadelphia, workers experimented with high-proof alcohol, aloe and glycerine to get just the right consistency. The recipe is based on one published by the World Health Organization.

As word got out about what Eight Oaks was up to, the distillery began hearing from people and groups in need, including a pediatric cancer organisation and a woman whose 12-year-old son has heart disease and was desperate for hand sanitiser to help keep him safe.

“I cannot find it anywhere and this virus is especially dangerous to him,” she wrote to the distillery.

Stories like that are why Butters was so disgusted with price gougers who were selling sanitiser online for more than US$300 an ounce – and why he decided to shift his company’s focus.

“We’re trying to make sure we continue to provide a paycheck for our employees and support our community however way we can do that,” he said.

The family-owned distillery plans to dramatically boost production of hand sanitiser this week and distribute the bottles to charities. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
The family-owned distillery plans to dramatically boost production of hand sanitiser this week and distribute the bottles to charities. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
For most people, the new virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Beyond the humanitarian impulses of individual distillers, the liquor industry also has a vested interest in seeing the virus threat dissipate quickly, given its economic reliance on bars, restaurants and other hospitality and entertainment venues that have been shuttered by the outbreak.

Brad Plummer, spokesman for the American Distilling Institute and editor of Distiller Magazine, said he’s been seeing a lot of talk among distillers interested in converting part of their operations to hand sanitiser.

“The hospitality industry is going to be decimated by this and they are our primary clients. We’re looking for ways to help in the response to this, but also to find other ways to look for revenue streams,” he said.

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Things you always wanted to know about wine

Cathy Gowdie – Stuff | October 25, 2017

(These are some excerpts from an article which actually canvassed 10 things you might want to know about wine. I have picked out several that I found more interesting. The rest, in fact, we didn’t want to know.)

What is orange wine if it’s not from oranges?

The new rosé? Orange wine is having a moment. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Orange, some say, is the new rosé, occupying the demilitarised zone between red and white. The colour crosses a spectrum – from pale apricot to enraged Trump, all the way to amber – but what’s really different about orange wine is the way it’s made. Traditionally, red wines are made from the juice of red grapes plus grape skins. Whites are made without skins.

Orange wines are made from white grapes but get the red-wine treatment – the juice is macerated with the skins, a technique dating back 8000 years to wine’s birthplace, Georgia. The resulting texture, tannin and colour means these “skin-contact” wines have more in common with reds than whites; styles vary from fruity, floral or earthy to sour and funky.

What is natural wine and why are people so excited about it?

Natural winemaking is a broad church in which wines are generally (purists say must be) made from grapes grown without commercial chemicals. Processing takes place with minimal “intervention” – so, for example, the wine may not be filtered to remove cloudiness. Additives, such as sulphur dioxide – used for centuries to keep wine tasting fresh – are shunned or kept to a minimum. It’s a departure from the kind of large-scale industrial winemaking that values hygiene and consistency over quirks and imperfections.

As with conventional wines, quality varies hugely. There’s no regulation of what’s called natural, so if you’re going that way to avoid chemicals, look for certified organic or biodynamic wines – they’re more likely to be what you’re paying for. When made by winemakers of skill and integrity, the best natural wines celebrate quality, individuality and character – hallmarks of all great wines, regardless of whether they’re pitched as natural.

What’s better – Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio?

The wine world can be daunting. Photo: Jennifer Soo

Same grape, different name – one name is French, the other Italian, with “gris” and “grigio” both meaning “grey”. In Europe the French approach to making gris produces a highly perfumed wine with plenty of mouthfeel; grigio from Italy is often (not always) a crisper, lighter wine. “Better” is in the eye of the beholder – good news is they’re all food-friendly styles. So in short, no difference in the grape, just the name.

Why might some wines contain traces of eggs, fish or milk?

Egg whites with fish bladders and milk: a dish that might make guests at a Game of Thrones banquet actually welcome the post-dinner massacre. Yes, it’s medieval stuff – each of these has been used for centuries to “fine” wine. Fining is a process in which one or more of these proteins is dropped into unfinished wine to bind with components that taste bitter, astringent, or are likely to make the wine hazy. They are then removed. Traces, as the label states, may remain.
If any of the above have been used you’ll find them listed on the label as allergens. The fish bladder derivative also goes by the name isinglass and is rarely used in Australia but egg whites and milk products are still common.

How long will a wine keep after it’s been opened?

Like fish and houseguests, opened wine smells less appealing after three days. Aim to finish an open bottle over no more than two nights. As a rule of thumb, red wines stay in condition for longer than whites (some robust reds taste better on day two). Exposure to air changes the aroma and flavour of opened wine, so reseal a bottle you’re not planning to finish in one go.

A bottle that’s mostly full will last better than one with only a glass or two left. It’s about the proportion of air to wine – more air in the bottle means faster deterioration. Store an opened bottle upright, not on its side. If you keep a clean, empty half-bottle handy, decant unfinished wine into that – it will stay fresher than in a full-size bottle. Otherwise, start scouting wine-saving devices.

(This last item may not reflect editorial opinion, surely once the bottle is opened it deserves to be finished in one sitting. The person I live with frequently draws my attention to the week that passes between a tasting and when the committee downs the tasting leftovers, but members may not understand the deterioration that has occurred during that time and the generous effort made by committee members to get rid of these leftovers on their behalf.)

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Are you going to Strawberry Fare?

Wellington restaurant Strawberry Fare owner Katy Pearce believes many loyal patrons will miss its popular lemon ...
Strawberry Fare owner Katy Pearce believes many loyal patrons will miss its popular lemon chocolate cheesecake.

Diedre Mussen – Stuff

Desperate dessert diners have emerged in droves to book seats at the soon-to-close Wellington restaurant Strawberry Fare.

The Kent Tce restaurant will shut its doors on May 29, disappointing many loyal sweet-toothed patrons who fear missing their favourite sugar hit.

Owner Katy Pearce was inundated with people booking tables after announcing its impending closure on social media at midday on Tuesday, forcing her to stop taking any further reservations by Tuesday evening.

“It’s been overwhelming. I feel so terrible to say to people we just can’t take any more bookings.”

One of her maitre d’s, Caitlin Barrie, suggested posting news of the closure on the restaurant’s Facebook page, a day after staff were told about it on Monday.

Pearce said she knew it would create huge interest, but agreed with Barrie’s encouraging words: “Let’s go out with a bang”.

Within about eight hours, all their last bookings were full with hundreds of people emailing and phoning in.

“I said to Caitlin afterwards, ‘You got your bang’.”

The art deco restaurant opened in 1992 in a remodelled former funeral parlour and swiftly became a popular institution for its sweet treats.

Pearce said it was a hard decision to close-up shop, but the building needed repairs and she wanted a break to spend more time with her three daughters, aged from 6 to 12 years.

“I’ve worked every day for the last 24 years. That’s what owning your own business is like. It will be so nice for me to have a break.”

Many people had posted messages on social media mourning the inner-city restaurant’s closure, reminiscing about special occasions over favourite desserts, which moved her to tears.

“It’s been really lovely. I haven’t realised how much impact it’s had.”

News of the closure forced the Christchurch-based restaurant of the same name to clarify it was still business as usual.

“Strawberry Fare in Christchurch is not closing. Strawberry Fare in Wellington is closing. Not us,” its Facebook page said.

READ MORE:

* Wellington dessert destination set to close
* Ladies of Wellington: Strawberry Fare

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What your wine choice says about you

Laura Morelli – Stuff – 17 February 2016

wine-choice
Are you the life of the party or elegant and graceful?

From merlot to shiraz, we’ve got a list of wines that reveal the truth about your personality. Which one are you most suited to?

Shiraz

You’re the life of the party. You have no problem dancing on tables. You’re a true free spirit. You always seem to try new things because life’s too short.

Cabernet sauvignon

Always assertive and direct, you command discussion and want your voice to be heard. You enjoy the classics and have a thing for old-world affairs. Just like Brad Pitt, you only get better with age.

Merlot

The one known as “easy to drink,” just like you’re easy to get along with. You’re always a delightful partner for table conversation.

Pinot Noir

Fresh, elegant and graceful. You enjoy nothing better than the scent of sea breeze

Riesling

You’re sweet and nice. Despite being genuine, people sometimes have a hard time agreeing with you.

Sauvignon blanc

One word: sophistication. You’re always in control and you’re good at what you do. The perfect mix of herbal and a little smoky.

Pinot grigio

You enjoy travelling the world as you yearn to immerse yourself in new cultures in order to connect with the world.

Rosé

You’re bubbly and personable and people find you easy to be around and a pleasure to sip on.

Oversixty.co.nz

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Oldest wine opened in NZ still ‘amazing’ after 113 years in a Wairarapa cellar

Caleb Harris/Fairfax NZ | Last updated February 10, 2016.

After 113 years in a farmhouse cellar, a bottle of wine believed to be the oldest ever opened in New Zealand has astonished critics by still tasting great.

“It’s superb. Amazing, really … It’s still hanging on, shaking its fist at you out of the glass,” was how wine writer John Saker summed up the 1903 Landsdowne Claret opened in Wairarapa on Wednesday.

Early Wairarapa settler William Beetham made the wine on land the family owned in Masterton, after his homesick French wife Hermance planted vines.

The 1903 blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and syrah is poured at Brancepeth Station in Wairarapa.

The vineyard stopped producing around 1908, but some bottles have been cellared ever since in the Edwardian homestead at Brancepeth Station, east of Masterton, which Beetham’s descendants still own.

On Wednesday, Saker convened a panel of 12 other local and international wine writers at Brancepeth to sample the valuable vintage, a bottle of which once sold for $14,000.

The 1903 blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and syrah is poured at Brancepeth Station in Wairarapa.

Beetham’s Masterton vineyard was revived under new owner Derek Hagar in 2009 and won an international pinot noir award, so the tasters compared Beetham’s 1903 wine with a contemporary bottle produced by Hagar on the same land.

Brancepeth’s current custodian, Edward Beetham, said seeing his forebear’s pioneering role in Wairarapa winemaking acknowledged was “a great occasion”. “We’ve always sort of dreamt of doing this.”

Although called a claret, the wine is actually a blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and syrah.

Breaths were bated as the crumbling cork was pulled, but once the venerable wine was swished, sniffed and sipped, the consensus was that age had not wearied it.

“This wine is like … a 100-year-old human which is still not ready to die,” German sommelier Markus Berlinghof said.

“There was this sort of dried citrus-peel acidity that just made it feel alive, still, and that completely shocked me,” American wine writer Sara Schneider said.

American wine writer Sara Schneider at the tasting.
American wine writer Sara Schneider at the tasting.

Saker found the wine not only surprisingly fault-free for its age, but also redolent of an “Edwardian summer” at the dawn of New Zealand’s wine industry. “That’s what makes it wonderful.”

BETTER WITH AGE?

1. John Saker, Wine editor Cuisine magazine

Tasting notes: “Slight faded rose, a hint of reduction … that lovely elegant passage across the palate, just a suggestion of sweetness. This is a Wairarapa pinot to be proud of.”

What about compared with the 2009 Landsdowne wine? “I thought there was a family resemblance … both have a finer, lighter, red fruit notes and a steely acidity.”

Rating (1903): 5 out of 5

2. German sommelier Markus Berlinghof

German sommelier Markus Berlinghof and American wine writer Sara Schneider get to work on their tasting notes.

Tasting notes: “A lot of dried fruit character, dried orange zest. Elegant, a very feminine mouth feel. The colour is still in very good condition, a deep garnet, very fresh.”

What about compared with the 2009 Landsdowne wine? “I wasn’t a friend of drinking the other wine afterward, I don’t want to compare them.”

Rating: Doesn’t believe in ratings, but in a word: “Superb”.

3. American wine writer Sara Schneider

Tasting notes: “That first red fruit is really gone by now, but has sort of turned into a dried fig character, kind of an earthy tang, with the tannin texture … dried rose petals … a terrific wine.”

What about compared with the 2009 Landsdowne wine? “There’s a wet loam, forest floor, mushroomy, savoury character in both wines.”

Rating: High 19 out of 20 (1903); low 19 out of 20 (2009).

 – Stuff

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Kiwi wine to be served to the rich and famous at Screen Actors Guild Awards

Matua and Beringer wine will be served at the 22nd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards
Matua and Beringer wine will be served at the 22nd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Chloe Winter, January 23 2016

Hollywood’s finest will be enjoying a drop of Kiwi wine at this year’s prestigious Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Treasury Wine Estates’ New Zealand brand, Matua, and Australian brand, Beringer, will be served to the rich and famous at the event – now in its 22nd year.

Beringer’s 2013 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2014 Napa Valley Chardonnay will be on offer during the awards ceremony while Matua’s 2014 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and 2014 Marlborough Pinot Noir will be served at the party afterwards.

About 1200 bottles of wine would be on-hand for celebrities to indulge in.

Treasury Wine Estates spokeswoman Megghen Driscol said guests would drink about 100 cases of wine throughout the evening.

“That’s approximately 6000 glasses of wine.”

With stars like Kate Winslet at the event, boosting brand awareness is a big aim.
With stars like Kate Winslet at the event, boosting brand awareness is a big aim.

This is the company’s third year serving wine at the awards show, Driscol said.

“We were initially approached because the organiser wanted well-respected wines that were nationally distributed – both Beringer and Matua fit that bill perfectly.”

Two wine bars would serve only Beringer, and several full-service bars would pour Matua along with other beverages, she said.

When asked whether the celebrities enjoyed their wine, Driscol said: “Well, they go through 100 cases of premium wine in one night, so one would have to assume they enjoy it…

“We don’t want to name-drop, but I can say that that several celebrities ask for Beringer and Matua by name now, so we’ve certainly created awareness amongst this highly influential group of tastemakers.”

With big names like Leonardo Dicaprio, Cate Blanchett, Helen Mirren, Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet and Rachel McAdams in attendance, brand exposure makes for great business.

“This truly is a win-win partnership.

“In addition to awareness and trial, we very much consider this to be a brand building activity which is always tough to score,” she said.

“However, we do leverage SAG content [through] our social media channels and see it as a great opportunity to build brand awareness amongst an influential group of people and create a buzz in the market.”

A few US-based Treasury Wine Estate’s staff get the honour of pouring the wine and educating the stars on the wines, she said.

The SAG awards are being held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on January 30.

– Stuff

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