Wine-Laced Ice Creams Lift U.S. Small Business Exports: Economy


Wine-Laced Ice Creams Lift U.S. Small Business Exports: Economy

2014-08-12 14:05:41.242 GMT



By Jeff Kearns

Aug. 12 (Bloomberg) — Used to be, Mercer’s ice cream wasn’t found far from the 60-year-old dairy in Boonville, a town of about 4,500 in central New York.

Now Mercer’s Dairy owners Ruth Mignerey and Roxaina Hurlburt and their 25 employees ship specialty wine-infused ice cream in a half-dozen flavors, including Cherry Merlot and Riesling, to 14 nations including China, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Seychelles and Trinidad and Tobago. The product was conceived at a 2005 event sponsored by then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton and sales began two years later. Exports started in 2008 and now account for about a quarter of annual sales of more than

$1 million. Employment is up from 20 four years ago.

“We went from being a local institution with maybe a 100- mile radius of people knowing Mercer to building a global brand,” Mignerey says by phone amid preparations to expand on four continents. “There are so many people who say something can’t be done and it can. Just don’t take no for an answer.”

Foreign sales by small companies like Mercer’s are becoming a focus for economic development officials in upstate New York and other U.S. regions who are seeking a bigger slice of record exports to boost growth. Shipments abroad by businesses with fewer than 500 employees accounted for 32.9 percent of the U.S.

total in 2012, up from 29.2 percent in 2005, according to Census Bureau data.

Continuing to move the needle means persuading more such companies that it’s possible to sell outside of the country.

President Barack Obama, who pledged in his 2010 State of the Union speech to double exports in five years, created the National Export Initiative, in part to help small businesses sell abroad.


One Country


There’s still plenty of room for improvement. Less than 1 percent of the nation’s 30 million companies ship outside the U.S., significantly less than other developed countries, according to the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration. Of those that do, 58 percent sell to just one country.

U.S. exports rose last year to a fourth-straight record of

$2.28 trillion, increasing by almost $700 billion from 2009 to account for 13.5 percent of the $16.8 trillion gross domestic product, according to Commerce Department data. Selling goods and services abroad supports 11.3 million jobs, the data show.

A report today showed confidence among small businesses increased in July. The National Federation of Independent Business’s optimism index increased by 0.7 point to 95.7, close to the almost seven-year high of 96.6 reached in May. A net 13 percent of respondents said they planned to hire, the highest share since September 2007.


Skepticism Challenge


Skepticism is the main challenge in working with small firms to expand beyond the nation’s borders, according to Robert Simpson, president of the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity in Syracuse, New York.

He said he often tells business leaders more than 95 percent of the world’s population is outside the U.S. Demand from the global middle class will soar to $56 trillion by 2030 from $21 trillion in 2010, according to a report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

“Antipathy toward the global market is the single-biggest hurdle we have,” Simpson said in a presentation at a recent Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia community development conference. “Companies don’t yet fully understand how their products can compete internationally.”

Toni Corsini, who helps jump-start exports by smaller firms as a New York-based loan officer for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade, shares Simpson’s mission. She says her three-biggest obstacles among small business owners are fear, financing, and lack of faith.


One-Stop Shop


She works to alleviate all three from SBA’s Export Assistance Center in lower Manhattan, one of about 100 regional centers around the country. The office also is home to other federal agencies that assist with exports, making it a kind of one-stop shop.

“We’re available, don’t be afraid, come to us,” she says of her message to business owners. “If you are serious about continuing your business and growing your business, you better understand this is a global marketplace.”

Frigid Fluid Co. took advantage of a Commerce Department program to help expand exports of its funeral products to 16 nations, adding Italy, Mexico, Poland and Spain over the past two years. President Brian Yeazel, whose family has had the Chicago-area firm for 122 years and five generations, says he’s turning to predominantly Catholic countries more geared to traditional burials as Americans increasingly choose cremation.


Buyer Meetings


Yeazel used Commerce’s Gold Key Service, which gives firms market research and arranges meetings with buyers on visits to the country. Trips cost $700 for small companies like Frigid Fluid, which has 17 employees; first-time users pay half price.

Commerce Department specialists in 80 countries plan trips, attend meetings, and provide translators.

Exports of products like embalming fluid and casket- lowering devices have grown to make up 34 percent of Frigid Fluid’s $4 million in annual sales, he said.

While such small businesses add to exports, there probably aren’t enough of them to help Obama reach the 2015 goal of $3.1 trillion.

Caroline Freund, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, calls Obama’s initiative focusing on small firms misguided and impractical, given the export dominance of bigger companies such as Chicago- based Boeing Co., the largest U.S. exporter.


Large Businesses


“Exporting is by its nature dominated by large businesses,” Freund, a former economist at the Federal Reserve, World Bank and International Monetary Fund, wrote in a February research report. A strategy built around small companies does “little to lift exports because only the most productive firms can compete globally, and such highly productive firms grow to be large firms precisely because they are so efficient.”

Yet boosting exports is the missing piece of the full- fledged recovery in the U.S. economy, according to Ludovic Subran, chief economist at Euler Hermes Group. The Paris-based credit insurer pays companies if foreign customers don’t, tracking risk through 1,500 underwriters.

“There is a misconception about the potential to grow outside of the U.S.,” he said. “People don’t realize they can make the big bucks if they go to Latin America or Asia.”

Some business owners have doubts about repayment, a consideration when one big unpaid bill can threaten their future, said Laurel Delaney, the Chicago-based founder of GlobeTrade who’s been helping entrepreneurs sell abroad since 1985. Still, she says insurance can cut risk.


‘Growth Potential’


“They’re just not realizing their growth potential,” she said. “You need to develop a global mindset.”

At Mercer’s, Mignerey is working to expand in new markets, including Australia, Kenya, Puerto Rico, South Africa, South Korea, the U.K., Philippines and Suriname. Classification makes approval complicated because some jurisdictions call its wine ice cream food, others label it alcohol. Packaging needs vary.

The hybrid product was born at a 2005 Washington event promoting New York Farm Day sponsored by Clinton. When attendees made ice cream floats with the wine from the next booth, Clinton and others suggested it may have a commercial future.


Labeling Products


Mignerey and Hurlburt, her aunt, introduced wine ice cream, which has about 5 percent alcohol content, in 2007. At a New York City trade show the same year, they met a Dutch distributor, who arranged their first foreign deals. They weren’t worried about payment because it was done in advance, but they were concerned about simple labeling errors, Mignerey says. Exports of the wine flavors began in 2008 with the Netherlands, though the company wants to also sell more traditional varieties abroad.

Foreign sales help take the seasonality out of the ice cream business. In the production facility, four employees work year-round where previously winter staffing fell to two full- time and one part-time. In the office, four workers help with export-related administration, up from two.

“It can be done,” Mignerey says. “But it’s a lot of work.”


(An earlier version of this story corrected the spelling of ‘Riesling’ in the second paragraph.)


For Related News and Information:

What U.S. Entrepreneurs Should Know About Exporting NSN MX8ZXG3HBS3K <GO> America’s Got Milk and China Wants It NSN N6PRUZ3HBS3K <GO> Obama’s Progress on Export Goal Tied to Prices NSN LZGILV0UQVI9 <GO> Economy news: NI USECO <GO> Labor market news: TNI LABOR US <GO> Top economy stories: TECO <GO>


To contact the reporter on this story:

Jeff Kearns in Washington at +1-202-624-1806 or To contact the editors responsible for this story:

Chris Wellisz at +1-202-624-1862 or;

Gail DeGeorge at +1-202-654-7342 or;

Carlos Torres at +1-202-624-1818 or

Gail DeGeorge, Carlos Torres

2008 Abadengo Crianza Arribes


If someone said the name Juan Garcia to you, you would probably think “Is that a famous football player?” or a singer or something.  But in fact Juan Garcia in addition to being someone’s name it is also the name of a grape varietal which grows in Spain.   Borrowing from Wikipedia:

Juan García is a minor Spanish red grape variety. It is found mainly in the provinces of Zamora and Salamanca and in the autonomous region of Galicia. It is an authorized variety in the Arribes Denominación de Origen. Wikipedia

The wine pictured above is made from 60 year old vines, and is located in Perena de la Ribera in Salamanca, overlooking the Duero from 600 meters altitude.  It actually reminds of some of the simple, refreshing table wines like dolcetto you find in Italy.  Not too heavy a red, crisp, almost thirst quenching, and naturally would go well with Spanish tapas or even just some nice charcuterie.  I would even consider serving slightly chilled,and the best thing is it costs very little.  Available for only about 10 gbp a bottle in the UK. Try or

Unfortunately I am not sure if this wine makes it to the USA, but Juan Garcia grape is definitely worth seeking out.  Drink young. My rating 87pts


Italian Bubbly Sparkles……Prosecco over Champagne?

I found this article in today’s Guardian  quite interesting.   Italian bubbly is becoming more and more popular.  The only unfortunate thing is the best Italian sparkling wine stays in the country.   Buon Anno a Tutti!  
Prosecco topples champagne as top sparkling tipple
Tesco expects to sell 250,000 bottles of the Italian white wine in the runup to New Year’s Eve
  • Glasses of sparkling wine
Those champagne flutes are probably full of prosecco. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

The British public will be popping a different kind of cork on New Year’s Eve after Britain’s largest wine seller said prosecco had overtaken champagne as its customers’ favourite sparkling tipple.

Tesco expects to sell 250,000 bottles of the Italian wine in the two-day runup to the new year, having reported a 70% increase in sales over the Christmas period.

Prosecco has become so popular that it will account for one of every four bottles of all sparkling wine bought in its supermarkets and online over the festive season, including champagne and cava, the retailer said.

M&S and Majestic Wine have also confirmed its increasing popularity compared with champagne.

Alain Guilpain, Tesco category manager for wine, said prosecco’s attraction was that it was “seen as an affordable treat, a little bit of luxury that won’t break the bank. And because of that, it has become a drink not just for special occasions like birthdays but for parties and other get-togethers.”

He said: “Prosecco has enjoyed a phenomenal year in terms of its growing popularity with shoppers. In 2013, one in every two bottles of sparkling wine [excluding champagne] sold was prosecco. It has continued to win over new fans because of its great taste and keen price.

“Following a good harvest in 2013, we should see further growth next year, with more bottles on the way.”

• This article was amended on Tuesday 31 December 2013 to make clear that Prosecco accounts for one in every four bottles of all sparkling wine sold – and one in every two bottles excluding champagne.

Link to article :

2011 Chateau Pesquie Quintessence


The wines from the Rhone represent tremendous value and all the wines from this vineyard in Ventoux region are exceptional. Chateau Pesquie exemplifies the Rhone varietals of Syrah and Grenache especially and the Quintessence is elegant, silky, and creamy. It reminds me of the wines from Cali and do not let the high alcohol content(15.5) scare you. This is a luscious 80 percent syrah, 20 percent grenache wine which goes well with many dishes and works particularly well with spicy food. Retails for about 15 pounds a bottle in the UK and 20-25$ in the US. my rating 92 pts.  They make two other red wines which are also worth checking out, Artemia and Terrasses:



Invest in Italian Wine? That’s right. The trend is changing


One of my favorite wines.  The wine investment trend is changing.  Buy Italy over Bordeaux.   Cheaper, and just as good.  See the article below which came out on Bloomberg recently

Ornellaia Tops $2,000 a Case as Estate Marks 25 Years

By Guy Collins – Jul 31, 2013 12:00 AM GMT+0100

Ornellaia is confirming its place among the biggest names in wine sales as it celebrates 25 years of production.

The Tuscan grower’s bottles are exceeding $2,000 a case as demand increases at auction. Buying interest in wines from Italy, Burgundy and California has picked up in recent months as demand eased from Asian collectors for top Bordeaux.


Ornellaia Vineyards

Ornellaia Vineyards

Guglielmo de Micheli/Ornellaia via Bloomberg

The Ornellaia Vineyards. Wines from the Tuscan region show signs of increasing demand at auction with prices above $2,000 a case.

Ornellaia Vineyards

Ornellaia Vineyards

The Bellaria Vineyard is in Ornellaia, Tuscany. Wines from the Tuscan region show signs of increasing demand at auction with prices above $2,000 a case. Photographer: Guglielmo de Micheli/Ornellaia via Bloomberg

Ornellaia 25th Anniversary

Ornellaia 25th Anniversary

Ivan Leon Cerullo/Studio Quagli/Ornellaia via Bloomberg

An Ornellaia 1985-2010 25th anniversary bottle. The Estate was set up in 1981 outside of Bolgheri and the first vintage was produced four years later.

Ornellaia is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux-style grapes. It also produces a single-vineyard premium Merlot, Masseto, sold separately by French merchants.

“A lot of private clients are becoming interested in a broader range of wines beyond Bordeaux grand cru classe,” Stephen Williams, founder of the London-based Antique Wine Company, said by phone. “Ornellaia and Masseto in particular.”

The Ornellaia Estate was set up in 1981 outside the village of Bolgheri, close to the Tuscan coast west of Florence. Planted with vines the following year, its first vintage was in 1985.

The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index, a Bordeaux benchmark, fell 2 percent in the second quarter after gaining 7 percent in the first, and has slipped further during July to trade 4 percent up over the year so far.

A case of Ornellaia 2004 sold for $2,214 at Acker Merrall & Condit in New York on May 22, while six bottles of Ornellaia 2005 fetched 1,112 Swiss francs ($1,150) at Christie’s International Plc in Geneva in May, the equivalent of $2,300 for a full case, according to data on the auction houses’ websites. On July 27, a case spanning six vintages back to 1993 fetched 1,547 pounds ($2,380) at Bonhams in London.

Cabernet Sauvignon

“We see the market of fine wines getting very interesting all over the world,” said Giovanni Geddes, Chief Executive Officer of Ornellaia. “It’s a question of perfecting what we have got.”

The flagship brand from the main estate, Ornellaia Bolgheri DOC Rosso, is made from Bordeaux grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, under the direction of winemaker Axel Heinz.

“There does seem to be a growing market for those sort of wines at auction,” said Stephen Mould, head of Sotheby’s (BID) European wine department. “People are looking to spread out a bit. Ornellaia does produce some fantastic wines.”

Charity Auction

The winery has started marketing the 2010 vintage, a quarter-century after its first, and marked the occasion with a charity auction held by Sotheby’s at London’s Royal Opera House in May.

The sale raised 238,500 pounds from bids on large-format bottles incorporating designs by artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, and followed a similar auction held in New York in February which raised $55,250.

Since 1997, it has also produced a second wine, Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia, using grapes selected out of the main wine, and now also makes Le Volte dell’Ornellaia, blending 50 percent Merlot and 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon with 30 percent native Italian Sangiovese.

Its vineyards cover 99 hectares (245 acres). According to Ornellaia’s website, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines cover 38 hectares each, with Cabernet Franc on 12 hectares and Petit Verdot on 7. There are also smaller quantities of white Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Petit Manseng.

Liv-ex said in a market blog this month that in June its Super Tuscan Index, tracking Italy’s most powerful wine brands, was showing the strongest performance this year of all its indexes. While Masseto and Tignanello were driving gains in the first half of 2013, “over a five-year period Ornellaia has outperformed all others.”

The company is investing in a new winery specifically for Masseto, so that it can operate as a fully-separate brand, with construction due to start early next year, according to Geddes. “Masseto will be completely stand-alone,” he said.

Ornellaia was founded in 1981 by Lodovico Antinori. Bordeaux-based wine consultant Michel Rolland began his association with the vineyard in 1991 and it has been owned since 2005 by Tuscan wine group Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi.

Muse highlights include Manuela Hoelterhoff on arts, Ryan Sutton on U.S. dining and Zinta Lundborg’s interviews.

To contact the reporter on this story: Guy Collins in London on

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at


Continuing on the value Bordeaux theme, I present to you a classic, rustic, earthy red from the Pessac Leognan region. This 2006 Haut Bergey is drinking beautifully at the moment but still has the legs to last another 5years at least. The blend is dominant with about 70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 30 percent Merlot.The sugary tannins have nice candy undertones which flow off of your tongue and think ripe juicy plums in color and taste. It is not a massive wine sitting at a lower than average 13 percent alcohol which is a nice change from the current trends in Bordeaux. Haut Bergey is widely available and retails for about 20 to 25 gbp a bottle depending on the vintage.. The latest 2012 vintage was recently released en premier at a very affordable 145 gbp per case of 12 bottles in bond and is definitely worth buying. This wine is a step up from the wine from entre dex meurs in my previous review (2008 Courteillac) but still very affordable for the quality.
my rating 90 pts.



2008 Domaine de Courteillac

Contrary to common belief not all GOOD red wine from Bordeaux is expensive. Pictured below is a wonderful wine from the Entre Deux Mers appellation in Bordeaux not far from the Dordogne River.  It is situated in one of the highest elevations in the region, and with the help of the well-known wine consultant Stephane Derenoncourt this simple wine has developed a serious punch. At only 10£ per bottle this should be a benchmark for value red claret!  Buy it by the case load, and if you see it in magnum, scoop it up.  Although this wine is meant to be drunk young, the 2008 vintage is drinking superbly, and still has lots of bursting fruit and complexity left on the palate.  This vintage has 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. Perfect for the summer barbecue, or an elegant dinner party.  Your guests will be impressed.  Highly recommended. Available at Jeroboams in the UK, and widely available in the US.  My rating 88pts.



La Spinosa Prunaiolo 2007

I have not posted a wine review in ages and I can only apologize. Managing work and family life takes up a lot more of my free time these days. Well anyway, do not worry because my passion for the grape has not diminished in this brief absence. I have many new wine experiences which I cannot wait to to share with you and with no further adieu what better better place to return than probably my favorite wine region of Tuscany.

This glorious 2007 Supertuscan blend from La Spinosa is  mix of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Dark night purple color, full bodied and bursting with flavor. It almost reminds of a  young Guado al Tasso from the infamous Antinori stable, but this wine thankfully costs much less. La Spinosa’s vineyards are located in the Chianti region between Siena and Florence and they practice organic farming. I was fortunate to buy this wine in a charity wine auction for Water Aid run every year by Christies on behalf of Decanter Magazine. ( more about this in due course). With regards to cost this wine retails for about $25 to 30 but unfortunately not easy to find. If you see it on a wine list around this price then buy it. Highly recommended and worth every penny. Drinking well now but a couple more years in the cellar would not do it any harm. Serve with eggplant parmigiana or hearty beef dishes. My rating 92pts.

2009 Pirie South Pinot Noir

Continuing on the theme from my last wine review of from Croatia.  There are some unexpected places which make quality wine that should be taken more seriously.  And if you like Pinot Noir, look no further than TASMANIA!?  Yes, when most people think of Tasmania, they think of the Tasmanian devil in Warner Bros. Looney Toons, but this is no joke and no cartooon.   I have tried a few wines from this region, and the Pinot Noir is scrumptuous.  Pictured is 2009 Pirie South Pinot Noir which comes from the cool climate of the Tamar Valley in Tasmania.  Think crunchy fruit, cherries from a cocktail and nuances from Burgundy but better than Bourgougne Rouge, and almost could be a village Chambolle Musigny or Gevrey Chambertain.   What is even more special about wines from Tasmania is that they are extremely affordable  as they often get overlooked because of the proximity and popularity of Australia and New Zealand wines.   You can find this Pirie South Pinot for about 12-15£ a bottle in the UK (try Jeroboams) and 25$ in the US.  You will not be disappointed. My rating 91 pts….and Lisa Perrotti Brown from Wine Advocate is also a fan:

2009 Pirie South Pinot Noir #195
Jun 2011
Lisa Perrotti-Brown 90 Drink: 2011 – 2015 $25 (25)
Medium ruby-purple in color, the 2009 “South” Pinot Noir presents aromas of black cherries, red currants and freshly cracked black pepper with a hint of cloves. Medium bodied with great flavor concentration, it has crisp acidity, a medium level of grainy tannins and a long peppery finish. Drinking now, it should remain good to 2015.

link to Pirie’s website: