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Posted by on in December 2013 Editions

ThPisco.jpg - 44.78 KBe ongoing cocktail renaissance has propelled pisco into the limelight and onto American backbars. Bartenders on both coasts have come to appreciate its unrivaled mixability and universally appealing character. All of our futures should be so bright.

Interestingly enough, this is not the first time that pisco has made it big in the States. During the California Gold Rush, miners from South America streamed into San Francisco bringing with them ample stock of Peru’s native spirit. Its popularity with the locals gave rise to such classics as the Pisco Sour and Pisco Punch. The brandy’s run came to an end with the onset of Prohibition when it all but disappeared in the States.

Celebrated mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler believes pisco stands a great chance of cracking into the American market. “I’ve been working with pisco for several years now and the thing I really enjoy most about using pisco in cocktails is the beautiful floral bouquet of the muscat grape. I often use pisco in variations of the traditional sour formula, but it also works beautifully in spirit-driven cocktails.”

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NLauraKimmel.jpg - 205.28 KBot long after graduating from Virginia Tech University with a degree in Public Relations, Laura Kimmel found work as a receptionist at the Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM).  That was seven years ago.  Today, she is the association's Director of Membership and Marketing, a position she has held since 2010.

"This will be my seventh year here," she stated, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "I've grown a lot, I've learned a lot, and I have worn many different hats here from logistics coordinator of our 10,000-person Expo to planning our 700-person awards gala to now managing and directing membership and marketing."

Her duties and responsibilities are many.  Chiefly, though, her job is to make sure RAM is getting its message out to Maryland restaurants that the association is there to help them succeed.  "We also work to let the dining public know that Maryland restaurants are great and that there are many to choose from. "

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In late October, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., commemorated the 80th anniversary of ProhProhibition.jpg - 267.53 KBibition's repeal by inviting the proprietors and representatives of several historic wineries to town.  Among them was Christine Wente, a board member of Wente Family Estates in California's Livermore Valley.  During an interview with the Beverage Journal, Wente remarked, "Prohibition is significant for us because we were one of the few wineries that continued to operate during that era.  In addition to branching out into cattle ranching and olive farming, we sold sacramental wines to the Catholic Church through a contract with Beaulieu Vineyard. The Church would hold two or three masses a day back then, so they needed a lot of wine. As a result, we were able to come out of Prohibition strong and able to make some great advances in the 1930s, including being the first winery in California to varietally label Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc." 

She continued, "It was an amazing time. Wineries were allowed to ship crates of grapes to home winemakers.  But they would have to put notes on the top of crates that said: 'Caution! Don't add yeast or grapes will ferment into wine!'"

During her presentation, Wente shared with the Smithsonian the three main factors that have contributed to the success of the business.  Number one has been the family's continual search for consistency and quality "and never believing you have achieved it."  Second, she spoke of the passion that has grown up through the generations of her family.

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Eighty years ago Maryland approved ratification of the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ultimately repealing the 18th Amendment and ending Prohibition. Today, Maryland’s wine and spirits industry supports a multi-million dollar economy, employs thousands of workers, and provides millions of dollars in tax revenue to the state and federal governments.

Marking the 80 year milestone, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) released a detailed economic snapshot of the industry’s impact in Maryland that I found very interesting (as well as important).

The wine and spirits industry supports 17,340 direct jobs in Maryland, which includes more than 1,270 workers at wholesalers. The total economic impact of the industry in the state is $2.9 billion, according to an economic analysis released by WSWA and prepared by New York-based John Dunham & Associates.

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