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2

Million liters of neutral grain spirits donated by beverage giant Diageo, enough to produce 8 million (250ml) vials of hand sanitizer to combat COVID-19. Panic-buying has led to global shortages of the gel, leading spirits manufacturers, including Pernod-Ricard and Bacardi, to do their part in stepping up production. Distillers large and small are also converting their facilities to produce hand sanitizers of their own. Luxury goods group LVMH has committed its perfume stills –we wonder if their versions will be redolent of the signature Dior, Guerlain, and Givenchy fragrances in LVMH’s portfolio.

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100

Percent increase in online sales of wines and spirits reported by Wine.com last week, compared to the same period last year. As COVID-19 continues to force Americans to stay at home, the twenty-year-old e-commerce retailer reports surging demand as people lay in stocks of beverage alcohol by using home delivery.

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15.6

Number of millions of employees who work in the U.S.’s one million restaurants. Eateries are attempting to adapt to social distancing measures by expanding their capacity to provide meals via takeout, delivery, and drive-through. Despite these efforts, it is estimated that between 5 and 7 million workers will be laid off due to the coronavirus.

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10

Number of counties in California—including Napa and Sonoma—that have issued shelter-at-home orders. The orders include closures of all but “essential business” which, in California, include wineries in order to preserve inventory and production. Wineries have been urged to continue vineyard management, wine production, sales, delivery and shipping. While you can’t visit your favorite tasting rooms at this time, you CAN have the wine brought to you, so order away!

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1

Number of times in the last 600 years that Ireland has forbade kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle. (The current prohibition is a result of the COVID-19 virus). The 15th-century castle is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, with almost half a million visitors a year. Legend has it that he who kisses the Stone (a limestone block set into the castle wall below its battlements), receives the gift of eloquence. And a bit of TMI, Karen kissed the Blarney Stone as a wee lass in 1968.

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265

Number of gallons of Lambrusco that poured out of water faucets and showers in a residential area of Castelvetro, in northern Italy last week. The surprise “gift” lasted three hours and was due to a malfunction on the bottling line at Cantina Settecani winery, causing their Lambrusco Grasparossa, a local specialty, to seep through the town’s water lines. Castelvetro, in the heart of the Emilia-Romagna region, has suffered more than an 80% drop in tourism since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

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1435

Year of the first documented evidence of the riesling grape. The Wines of Germany announced in 2019 that March 13 would henceforth be known as the official birthday of riesling. The date references an invoice found in a cellar log located in Rüsselsheim, Germany just east of the Rheingau region. The document invoices Count Johann IV of Katzenelnbogen for six vines of riesling planted in the vineyard of a local winery.

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200

Number of years since the founding of W. & J. Graham’s, one of the top Port producers. Brothers William and John Graham started the company in 1820 and it remains independently owned by a single family—the Symington family. Graham’s is renowned for an outstanding range of Aged Tawny Ports, Vintage Ports and Quinta Vintage Ports. The Graham’s 1970 Vintage Port (which is still available on the market and costs a fraction of what it should) is thought by many to be one of the greatest Ports of the twentieth century.

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1

Number of mezcal-cask finished Scotch whiskies. Dewar’s recently announced Ilegal Smooth, an 8-year-old double-aged Blended Scotch whisky finished in casks from Ilegal Mezcal, one of the leading artisanal mezcal producers in the U.S. While there are a few ryes and Irish whiskeys finished in mezcal casks on the market, Dewar’s is the first such Scotch. After much pressure from distillers, Scotch whisky production laws were amended in 2019 to expand the types of casks allowed for aging to include those previously used to age wine, beer, ale and spirits.

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1

Amount (in U.S.$) that Peet’s Coffee will donate to The Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship in Columbia for every pound of their “Anniversary 2020” coffee sold this month, International Women’s Month. The Center helps poor women in Columbia develop small businesses. Peet’s, founded in Berekely, CA, in 1966, was one of the first suppliers of craft coffee in the U.S.

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50

Percent of wineries in Spain’s coastal Rías Baixas wine region with women winemakers. Historically, women have always played a leading role in the vineyards and bodegas here because men, who make up the vast majority of local fishermen, have gone to sea for long periods, leaving women to tend to the vines and make the wine.

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4

Number of female chefs de cave (head winemakers) among the 24 historic Champagne houses known as the Grand Marques. The Grande Marque (“great brand”) houses are a self-anointed syndicate originally formed in 1882. While the membership roster has changed a bit over the decades, the prestige now associated with the term is a testament to the marketing savvy of these prominent Champagne producers. Among its members are producers of some of our past Wines to Know: Charles Heidsieck, Bollinger, and Gosset.