It's no secret that drinking can lead to daffiness, but so can abstention, especially the forced kind. February 20 marked the 70th anniversary of the congressional passage of the repeal of Prohibition. So to celebrate this momentous occasion, the Wine Institute has launched a yearlong celebration composed primarily of recollections of winemakers who struggled during those 14 dark years (for inclusion in a documentary for eventual television broadcast). They spoke of surviving by shipping grapes cross-country by rail to home winemakers. (Prohibition permitted the production of 200 gallons of wine annually for home consumption.) Winemakers shipped "wine bricks," "wine loaves" and grape concentrate complete with a cautionary note that cleverly served as product instructions: "Warning, do not add water to this product as it is likely to ferment." A few days later this February, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study on underage and excessive drinking. Its findings? Americans consume 4.21 billion drinks per month of which underage drinkers chug 19.7 percent and excessive drinkers slurp 30.4 percent, accounting for some $57 billion of the $116 billion annual alcohol tab in the United States (1999). And then there is this little oddity. The Dallas Department of Environmental and Health Services has been getting calls from members of Alcoholics Anonymous, trying to determine if smoking is banned at their meetings. It is if they sell literature (which many of them do), says director Karen Bradford, because they are then classified as a retail establishment where smoking is banned under the recently passed city ordinance. But smoking is also banned if the room where the AA meetings are held opens into a retail establishment, which has caused a lot of confusion among AA members. But this confusion can lift if those AA folks are as clever as the wine loaf purveyors of yesteryear. There is still one place where AA members can gather and puff without fear of running afoul of the smoking ordinance: bars.
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Gregory Sonnenburg, who for the past 10 months has functioned as the sommelier and cellar master at Nana, has been bumped up to manager. Sonnenburg previously functioned as assistant wine steward at the Del Frisco's in Fort Worth, as well as assistant general manager at Houston's in Dallas. Filling Sonnenburg's sommelier void will be Fabian Hernandez, who did stints at Capital Grille and Palamino Euro-Bistro as well as Steel Restaurant & Lounge, where he was cellar manager during Nana's refurbishment, and his work helped land Steel a Best of Award of Excellence from the Wine Spectator.