Top Wine News of 2023

Wine

The past 12 months have shown the wine industry’s ability to bounce back, with 2023 bringing disasters and scandals, but also fresh faces, promising vintages and comeback stories.

The year wasn’t without its fair share of drama—with the collapse of the iconic New York wine shop Sherry-Lehmann and California internet merchant Underground Cellar, and the repercussions for failed Silicon Valley Bank’s hundreds of winery clients. But the news wasn’t all bad, with interesting new health research, Bordeaux’s most exciting futures campaign in several years and new positions for top winemakers in France and California. Below, click on each headline to get the full stories of the year in 2023. And buckle up for 2024!


Among the winners new to the awards this year was Vast, a restaurant serving steaks and other American fare at the top of Devon Tower in downtown Oklahoma City. (Courtesy of Vast)

The art of hospitality is alive and well in 2023, evidenced by the popularity of this year’s Restaurant Award-winners reveal. A list of more than 3,500 restaurants that earned Restaurant Awards from Wine Spectator in 2023 brought a lot of buzz to the foodie world, with this year’s winners, each offering outstanding wine programs, hailing from all 50 U.S. states as well as more than 75 other countries and territories.

Posted June 26, 2023


 A pedestrian walks by the closed store front of Sherry-Lehmann

Once a Midtown landmark, Sherry-Lehmann struggled for months, with shelves empty and staff quitting, before finally closing their doors permenently. (Alexandra de Toth)

One of the biggest stories in wine came to light in early 2023, when news broke that legendary Manhattan wine shop Sherry-Lehmann was in trouble, behind on its taxes and running low on inventory because the company owed money to multiple distributors who refused to send the store any more wine. In addition, several customers had filed lawsuits alleging Sherry-Lehmann failed to deliver Bordeaux wines they bought as futures. The shop was facing financial ruin, and its fall from grace captured our readers’ attention for months as the story unfolded.

In March, the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) shut the store down after the owners failed to renew their liquor license. In June, Sherry-Lehmann’s landlord threatened to evict the store from its prime location on Park Avenue and 59th Street, because it owed millions of dollars in rent arrears. Meanwhile, evidence was found that certain wines were removed from the store’s affiliated Wine Caves storage facility in Pearl River and may have been resold without the owners’ knowledge. Customers who asked for their wines to be delivered did not receive them, and it appeared that some clients’ pricey bottles had been sold to other collectors to try to stave off debts.

Soon after, a joint major-theft task force of the FBI and the New York Police Department raided the shop, collecting hundreds of boxes of materials, and new lawsuits against Sherry-Lehmann owners Shyda Gilmer and Kris Green came to light, including one by a major Bordeaux-based firm that claimed more than $250,000 of 2019 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines it had ordered were not delivered.

Posted January 5, 2023


 Chateaux Margaux's estate house is pictured with a blue sky

Château Margaux raised prices for its 2022 futures by more than 25 percent, after a very promising harvest. (François Poincet)

In spring 2023, Bordeaux’s top châteaus began releasing futures of their 2022 wines, giving wine lovers and collectors their first chance to grab hold of what is looking like the best vintage in several years. Adding to the anticipation, Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth visited the region, tasting nearly 200 wines from dozens of châteaus, and verified that 2022 is shaping up to be a fantastic vintage.

But great vintages often mean higher prices: Négociants told Wine Spectator they expected prices to rise 15 to 25 percent at top estates. Wineries did raise prices, and we analyzed who was offering good value and who was pushing the pricing envelope.

Posted May 12, 2023


 Two hands holding cups of coffee and tea, with a teapot alongside

Researchers found that your cappuccino or tea might also lead to better health in the long term. (d3sign/Getty Images)

This year readers were on the edge of their seats with the news that everyone’s favorite sources of caffeine might also have some positive long-term health benefits. While coffee and tea give us energy and support our productivity, it turns out they may also be fueling longer lives and reducing disease risk factors. New research has linked coffee and tea to increased lifespans, especially when both beverages are consumed together in moderate amounts.

Posted February 15, 2023


 Overhead view of Underground Cellar's warehouse

More than half a million bottles ordered by Underground Cellar customers are sitting in a warehouse like this one. (Deepix Studio)

Sherry-Lehmann wasn’t the only wine store with issues in 2023. In April, Underground Cellar, a San Francisco-based internet retailer boasting 24,000 clients, faced Chapter 7 bankruptcy when one of its lenders called in an $8 million loan. This meant that over half a million bottles of wine the firm was storing for customers who had already paid came under the control of a court-appointed trustee. That triggered an ugly custody battle over some pricey bottles.

Posted Decemeber 1, 2023


 A guard stands watch outside Silicon Valley Bank's Santa Clara branch as customers are allowed to access their money.

Silicon Valley Bank failed due to its tech portfolio, but now the government must sell the bank, including its wine division. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The national news that Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapsed in the spring of 2023 had major repercussions for the wine world. While the collapse was triggered by the bank’s tech portfolio, the second-largest bank to fail in U.S. history was a leading player in California wine, providing loans, financial advice and industry support to more than 400 winery clients.

Wine Spectator readers were anxious about the effects SVB’s demise would have on the industry, and the complex details of what might happen next. Mitch Frank, our senior editor for news, analyzed the trouble and the potential impacts.

Posted March 14, 2023


 A glass display of the wines at Aureole, with an acrobat retrieving a bottle from a high shelf

An outpost of the original Aureole in New York, the restaurant in the Mandalay Bay resort became even more famous than its forebearer for its ever-growing wine selection. (Joe Schmelzer)

Both the wine and restaurant world suffered a blow with the announcement that Chef Charlie Palmer was closing the iconic Aureole in Las Vegas. Known for its Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning wine list and its four-story wine tower, Aureole was a centerpiece of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino since it opened in 1999, and had been a training ground for many young chefs and sommeliers.

Many foodies were devastated to learn that after 24 years, Palmer made the tough decision to focus on other projects. So what will replace Aureole in the Las Vegas restaurant scene?

Posted February 21, 2023


 Two diners toast with red wine over dinner

Research suggests the best way of preventing frailty as we age is exercising and eating healthy foods, including polyphenol-rich plants and wine. (Morsa Images)

Readers were interested in new research that certain nutrients found in wine can help prevent the onset of frailty in older adults. The research hypothesized that adults who consume high levels of flavonols, antioxidants found commonly in wine, green tea, dark chocolate, citrus fruits, apples, berries and coffee, have a significantly lower chance of developing frailty over time, with particular benefits from the flavonol called quercetin, which is found in red wine.

Posted July 17, 2023


 Andy Erickson and Annie Favia pose together holding glasses of red wine

Winemaker Andy Erickson and his wife, Annie Favia, plan to build a new winery. (Leigh Ann Beverly)

Fans of boutique Napa wineries were excited to learn that Favia’s Andy Erickson and Annie Favia secured a new home for their elite label in the Oakville appellation by partnering with the Huneeus family. Senior Editor James Molesworth reported on this new and exciting development for Favia and the many fans of their cult Cabernet.

Posted January 10, 2023


 Solvang winery workers carry ranch gear through knee-high flood waters in California

Workers evacuate Alisal Ranch & Resort in the Santa Ynez Valley near Solvang. The heavy rains also flooded parts of Santa Barbara on the other side of the mountains. (George Rose/Getty Images)

The new year didn’t begin well for California. The state had been hammered with snow and rain since the end of 2022, leading to floods, fallen trees, high winds, power outages, evacuations, sinkholes and mudslides. While several wine regions were impacted, it did appear that much of the wine industry would emerge unharmed as 2023 brought an end to the watery winter.

Many winemakers found a silver lining—a promising 2023 vintage after years of drought. “There’s good and bad,” Jason Haas of Tablas Creek in Paso Robles told Wine Spectator. “The good is that we’ve surpassed our annual winter rainfall average, and after consecutive drought-reduced vintages that is a relief.”

Posted January 11, 2023


 Corks are arranged to make the numbers 2023.

(Getty Images)

In his annual end-of-year analysis, Mitch Frank examined new developments for the industry in 2022, and predicted what might be expected for wine in 2023. How much did he get right? Turns out, quite a lot. Revisit this article and compare it to this year’s analysis, Mixed Times for Wine, recently published in the Dec. 31, 2023 issue, where more predictions are made for 2024.

Posted December 29, 2022


 Axel Heinz poses in the Ornellaia cellar

Axel Heinz has earned a reputation as one of the world’s elite winemakers. (Molchen Photo)

Bittersweet news came in March: After more than 17 years in Bolgheri, Ornellaia winemaker Axel Heinz had decided to return to his hometown of Bordeaux, as the new CEO of Château Lascombes. While an exciting development for the second-growth estate, Tuscany will surely miss Heinz’s presence, as he earned a reputation as one of the world’s top winemakers during his time as estate director for both Ornellaia and Masseto. Senior editor Bruce Sanderson reported on this big change for these three top houses.

Posted March 23, 2023


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