Buena Vista La Victoire Champagne

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There are a number of French champagne producers who have operations in California, such as Roederer (whose California wine I prefer over the French, and it’s half the price).  But here’s a twist: a California winery with a genuine French champagne.  And this isn’t just any winery; Buena Vista is the second oldest in the state. (The first was D’Agostini winery, established in 1856 by a Swiss immigrant.  Buena Vista calls itself the first “premium” winery in California, but that seems to be based more on aspiration than fact.)

Regardless, Buena Vista was founded in 1857 by Agoston Haraszthy de Mokesa, who immigrated from Hungary, first to Wisconsin and then to San Diego, where he was improbably sheriff and then marshal.  He attempted a vineyard in Mission Valley, but it failed.

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Proper No. Twelve Irish Apple Whiskey

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Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey is a brand founded by Mixed Martial Arts Champion Conor McGregor under his Eire Born Spirits company in September 2018. It has in just under five short years become one of the most successful whiskey brands in the world.

Allegedly, the company’s first production run sold out in just under two weeks due to incredible demand. Tesco stores in Ireland began limiting customers to just two bottles per visit. 213,800 cases were shipped in 2019, a figure which represented a 17.8 per cent increase from the previous year. On Instagram, McGregor claimed after their first year they had raked in over $1 billion in sales. He said: “Over $1 billion generated in Whiskey sales in my first year! Like it or not, there is a new King in town! Proper Whiskey, liquid sunshine!”

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Beaulieu Vineyard Georges De Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

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Beaulieu Vineyard is one of California’s oldest and most celebrated wineries.  It was established by Georges de Latour and his wife Fernande in 1900, and is situated in the  Rutherford AVA in Napa Valley.

De Latour was born October 20, 1856, in Bordeaux, France.  At the age of twenty-six, he immigrated to San Francisco, where he was employed as a chemist from 1884 to 1888, later settling in San Jose in the early 1890s. He ran a cream of tartar business there for use in baking powder.  After neighbors complained of the smell from his factory, he and his wife moved to Healdsburg in Sonoma County, before finally settling in Napa, where the De Latours Initially purchased four acres (1.6 ha) of land. Legend has it that when Fernande first saw the property she exclaimed, “Quel beau lieu!” which translates to English as “What a beautiful place!”  And so the place was named.

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Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2018

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Until Yellow Tail precipitated the boom in “critter wines” in 2000, it can be argued that Penfolds was just about synonymous with Australian wine in the U.S.  The label is ubiquitous here, in both grocery stores and fine wine shops. Prices range from about $12 per bottle for the Koonunga Hill Shiraz-Cabernet, to $700 for the legendary Grange, and everything in between.  (That $700 is doubly amazing, because just five or six years ago Grange was “only” about $200.) The selections are mostly reds plus a few whites and even a tawny Port.

Founders Dr. Christopher and Mary Penfold immigrated to Australia from England in 1844, bringing their own French vine cuttings. Not long after, their fledgling vineyard was officially established as the Penfolds wine company at the 500-acre Magill Estate in Adelaide.

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