Tuesday wine bits 63: K-J layoffs, 2006 Bordeaux, cult winemakers

? The recession hits Jackson Family wines: The major U.S. producer, best known for its flagship Kendall-Jackson brand, laid off about 170 people over the last two weeks, culminating in what employees called Black Friday on Jan. 30. Said a company spokeswoman: ?There are a variety of factors affecting the economy right now and we needed to adjust our staffing levels beyond our annual seasonal temporary help. In light of that there was a needed reduction in force today affecting every area of the organization." Jackson employs about 800 people. This may well be the first of many hits suffered by wineries that have ramped up production for $15 and over wines, as I noted last week. The K-J parent has 36 labels, including La Crema, Cambria, Byron, and Arrowood.

? 2006 Bordeaux tasting: It may well have been the social event of the Dallas wine season, and the wine wasn ?t bad either. Last week ?s tasting, sponsored by the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux, attracted 500 people from throughout the middle of the country. It was part of a four-city tour featuring almost 100 Bordeaux wines. I ?ll write more about the wines later (I ?m on the track of an outstanding $15 red Bordeaux), but what struck me was not only the turnout, but that literally everyone who has anything to do with wine in the Dallas area was there. That almost never happens. It was much social hour as wine tasting.

? From the not having enough to do with your life department: Some wine drinkers are starting to treat cult winemakers the way other people do celebrity chefs, ball players, and the like. They ?ll wait in long lines to shake their hands at tastings or plan their vacations around visiting wineries. In this, we have another horrible legacy from the movie Sideways.

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