Winebits 171: Jess Jackson, U.S. wine consumption, alcohol laws

? Has Jess Jackson retired? Apparently so, reports Forbes magazine. Jackson's wine empire, which includes Kendall-Jackson and more than a dozen other brands, is making do without its founder. The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa fills in the story: "Jackson, 81, the only resident of Sonoma County to make the Forbes list of billionaires, was missing from its latest roster … for the first time in a decade. Jackson's family informed Forbes in January that the self-made billionaire no longer owns a stake in Kendall-Jackson or its parent company, Jackson Family Wines, said Clare O'Connor, a reporter with Forbes." Jackson, said the paper, is reportedly battling cancer.

? U.S. drinks the most wine: We passed France as the world's most prodigious wine drinking country in 2010, says the Wine Institute. Americans downed almost 330 million cases of wine, up two percent from 2009. Impressive? Depends on how you look at it. The French, with 63 million people, drank about 321 million cases last year, so their per capita consumption is still about four times ours. On the other hand, considering that only about one-third of Americans say they drink wine regularly, those of us do drink wine are more even with the French — 3 1/2 cases per person for U.S. drinkers compared to 5 for the French.

? No coupons in Massachusetts: The Bay State's liquor cops say the state's bars and restaurants can't use popular Internet coupons like Groupon. They're in violation of the several state regulations, and the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission ios going to go after establishments that honored the coupons. The coupon process, says the ABCC, ?unlawfully transfers ? an interest in the restaurant ?s liquor license. For its part, Groupon was circumspect (instead of reaching for a lawsuit). Said a spokesman: "Since we are pioneering a new industry, issues arise within our space that we must evaluate in the best interest of our merchants and customers."

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