With just over a month before our first ever Rogue River Rafting and Wine Tour, we only have a few spaces left, so reserve your "paddle" now!
Can your two cents and a case of wine save the world? Agate Ridge Vineyardof Gold Hill seems to think so.
As expected, more and more of this almostcomical story about Steve de Jaray of the Footstone Jive Winery operation came out today by David Baines of The Vancouver Sun:
'Poster boy' for securities misconduct charged with export offences
I had been wondering what happened to Steven de Jaray, who I view as the poster boy for how to dupe investors and get away with it. Now I know.
He and his 26-year-old daughter, Perienne, are in trouble with the Canada Border Services Agency. In December 2008, border officers intercepted two packages that were being sent to Hong Kong and found they contained electronic chips that could be used for military purposes. Also, the chips had been valued at $1,375, but border officials determined they were worth at least $200,000.
In February 2009, the agency's criminal investigators conducted searches at the exporter's residence and business, and last week they announced that de Jaray and his daughter had been charged with exporting technology subject to export rules, and failing to report commercial goods for export.
They are scheduled to appear in Richmond Provincial Court on June 15.
I tried to obtain copies of the search warrants, which usually outline what the alleged offences are all about, but couldn't track them down on Monday.
What I do know is that during the high-tech bubble, de Jaray savaged his former public company, AimGlobal Technologies Company Inc., so badly that, when I make public presentations, I use this case as an example of extreme securities misconduct, and an example of how you can defraud public investors and not suffer any criminal consequences.
In the late-1990s and early-2000s, de Jaray was founder and chief executive officer at AimGlobal, a Toronto Stock Exchange-listed company. At its peak in 2000, it sold $154 million worth of carbon-monoxide detectors. Investors were so smitten with revenue growth that they ignored the fact that the company lost $82 million during the same period. The stock traded as high as $27.
In the summer of 2001, the company's independent directors became concerned that de Jaray was using the company's treasury as his personal piggy bank. They hired KPMG to conduct a forensic audit. I obtained a copy of that report and was shocked at what I read.
For one thing, a consultant who had helped sell shares to private investors charged the company $211,900 for his services. De Jaray instructed him to submit a bill for $406,900, of which $195,000 was used to reimburse the consultant for a Ferrari that de Jaray had purchased from him.
In another non-arm's-length deal, de Jaray's then-wife Simone (they are now divorced) exercised options to buy 72,000 shares at $5 each in four tranches. Rather than pay the $360,000 required to exercise the options, she submitted four invoices -- each corresponding to the exact cost of each tranche -- for $360,000. The invoices were ostensibly for marketing services, but KPMG said it was unable to determine "the exact nature or value of the work" she provided.
KPMG also reviewed a $150,000 payment made by AimGlobal in March 1997 to Kustanal Investment Bank of Nauru, ostensibly for the placement of shares, and other financial and marketing services. KPMG viewed the transaction as suspicious. It noted that Nauru is "one of the top money-laundering havens in the world." It also noted the invoice was not addressed to anyone, there were no details relating to the placement of shares, and KPMG had not been able to confirm that the bank even existed.
De Jaray, meanwhile, was wheeling out buckets of money. During 2001, he collected $999,057 in management fees and a bonus of $100,000, and was reimbursed for expenses totalling $538,546.
Many of those expenses were dubious, to say the least. They included $49,112 for 30 cases of wine ($136 per bottle), which he claimed to have given to directors as gifts; $8,593 for picture framing by Wall Street Picture Framing on Marine Drive in West Vancouver; and $802 for men's clothing purchased at Thomas Pink in London. In all, KPMG identified $201,197 in expenses which, in its view, required further explanation.
De Jaray was also dumping tons of shares. Between June 1999 and October 2002, he sold 1.2 million shares without reporting those sales. It wasn't until Oct. 24, 2002, after trading was halted, that he filed an insider report disclosing he had disposed of them. Even then, no specific dates or prices were disclosed, so there is no way of knowing how much he made.
It was quite clear, however, that he was living a very affluent lifestyle. He and his wife lived in a spectacular house at 5730 Seaview Rd. in West Vancouver, overlooking Eagle Harbor Yacht Club. He also owned an Aston Martin and several Ferraris.
AimGlobal didn't fair as well. In October 2002, it went into receivership and the stock was delisted.
In May 2004, de Jaray signed a watered-down settlement agreement with the B.C. Securities Commission in which he admitted to insider trading reporting violations and to failing to install adequate compensation controls. Most of the specific abuses discovered by KPMG were not mentioned. He agreed to pay a $100,000 fine and submit to a nine-year securities ban, which is still in effect. No criminal charges were ever laid.
De Jaray subsequently founded APEX-Micro Electronics, which manufactured microchips and other electronics on a contract basis. This is the company that produced the chips that de Jaray was attempting to export to Hong Kong. It also fell on hard times and went into bankruptcy in July 2009.
In recent weeks, de Jaray has taken his big talk and high-living lifestyle to Oregon. He has leased a historic two-storey building in the centre of Jacksonville, Ore., and announced plans to open a winery, spirits distillery and tasting room in mid-June.
He claims to have distribution connections throughout the United States, and predicts his winery could be producing 100,000 cases in four to five years. That would make him a major player in Oregon -- the largest winery in the state currently produces 139,000 cases annually.
To pull this off, he'll need a lot of capital. Perhaps the Kustanal Investment Bank will help him out.
Thoughts in de Jaray's head: Yes, lets hideout in Southern Oregon and start a winery. Walla Walla is much too close to border patrol.
The Medford Mail Tribune reports another crime to add to de Jaray's record.
New winery owner facing charges over technology exports
If you read the paper, you may be familiar with a new tasting room tentatively opening this June in Jacksonville called Footstone Jive. The operation is spear-headed by Steve de Jaray, former Canadian businessman, and is a custom-crush client of Pallet Wine Company in Medford.
When I first learned of this new brand it was under the label, Lipstick Lake. Now, the focus has changed into a legend of "Glamorous girls... A heroic Aviator... A dream of a dancehall winery," according to their website. The debut wines are each cleverly named after a character in the legend focusing around a 1940s war hero and bottled in a gaudy bottle. The logo (pictured) is reminiscent of the St. Paul Beer Girl. Due to the nature of wine production schedules, the white wines will be released this Summer and the reds will ideally follow in the Fall. The reds are a 2009 Aviator Meritage, which they describe as a "Pomerol inspired premium Meritage red blend," 2009 Chorus-Girl Cab, and 2009 Celebrity Merlot. No mention of what vineyards the fruit is sourced from have been made.
When I met with de Jaray he titled himself a winemaker, which I notice was omitted in the Medford Mail Tribune and retitled, wine connoisseur, which seems more fitting. He also claimed he owned Pallet Wine Company, which I knew was not true due to touring the facility. He explained his mission for his wines was to bottle a $60 quality wine and sell it at a $20 price. One cost-saving way he plans to do this is through using a low-cost Chinese manufacturing contact he made through his past manufacturing business. He also continued, that his style is to focus on fruit-forward wines that would appeal to the uneducated, Millennial palate, which was enlightening to hear that Millennial's had different palates (it is correct to sense sarcasm here).
De Jaray designed his tasting room as a mock urban winery to give visitors a sense of experiencing a real winery. Space around the bar is narrow, but he doesn't think this is a problem, because he doesn't want it to be a hangout, simply try the wines, and sign up for the wine club. He also plans to sell more than just wine. Brandy, rum, vodka and other spirits are in the works with the addition of a European still in the front window.
With aspirations of producing 100,000 cases annually in four to five years, distributing in major East Coast markets and opening up exporting channels in Asia, De Jaray would be a major player in the Oregon wine industry. Currently, the largest winery in Oregon produces approximately 139,000 annually.
De Jaray is the former CEO of AimGlobal Technology, Inc. of British Columbia that reported annual revenues of $350 million.Though the Mail Tribune briefly mentioned de Jaray's past legal troubles in their first article announcing his winery's opening, it seems they are slowly uncovering the full story that most of us are aware of now by simply Googling his name. These troubles include an export crime, illegal retirement transfers and multiple lawsuits. I've also caught wind that local producers are not happy with de Jaray's current actions of trying to recruit their employees or making proposals to buy their vineyards or inventory (which they refused).
Many Southern Oregon wine producers seem startled by de Jaray's entrance and worried of how his business plans might effect their reputation. I'm sure similar feelings have been felt by industry members in past growing wine regions. How many of us criticize Napa for being full of wealthy estates backed by Fortune 500 executives? And none of us want that for our prized Southern Oregon. It is easy to be on the defense when "your" region starts attracting people with money to back up their ambitions if they do not align with your own. I know I am one of the biggest perpetrators of this. I am very protective of this area and I only want it filled with the people who have the upmost passion at producing the highest quality wines. But, I do want it to grow and for more people to experience our amazing wines and I have to except that some bad will come with all the good.
Three Oregon wine producers have made a strong commitment to wine exporting in the Pacific Rim, namely Hong Kong. Although these three pioneering wineries are based in the Willamette Valley, it is a great video to watch and educate yourself about the future of the Oregon wine industry.
It is so fascinating to hear that the Willamette Valley has 100,000 acres of prime vineyard land yet to be planted, with 15,000 currently in vines. Southern Oregon has more than that!
Memorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of peak wine season with many wineries hosting open houses and some reopening their doors.But, as fun as Memorial Day Weekend is in the wine industry, it can also be a bit overwhelming. Here is your guide for the ultimate wine tasting weekend in Southern Oregon.
Two days after the Folin Cellars Winemaker Dinner and I am still too full to look at this pictures... But, what a great night it was!
A group of 15 guests gathered at the Folin Cellars Carlton Tasting Room at 6 p.m. to kick off the night with a "Soter-Pop" as Rob Folin, winemaker, titled the Soter Vineyards Brut Rosé. Chris and I were running late, as always, because I over gabbed at our last commitment and didn't know Chris couldn't teleport us to the event. Then, to continue our traditions, we got lost, had no cell service, bickered about how this was so "like us," got back on track, talked ourselves into having a great night and walked through the door. The Soter-Pop instantly cheered us up as did the Wild Muchroom Crosstinis, Prosciutto Truffle Butter Breadsticks and Garlic and Rosemary Goat Cheese that Carole Stevens, Folin's sales and marketing powerhouse turned chef, prepared.
The evening continued as we were ushered across the street to the quaint Carlton Loft where dinner was being held. We were greeted by the 2007 Viognier, which is always a delightful welcome.
The meal startedwith Duck Confit Salad with Shaved Truffles and Dijon Vinaigrette paired with the 2008 Mourvédre. This wine is typically used as a blending grape in his GSM (Grenache, Syrah,Mourvédre), but Rob bottled just 25 cases as a Wine Club special. I loved the buttery smell on this wine. Chris informed me the smell, reminiscent of movie theater butter, is diacetyl, a product of lactic acid bacteria... Mmm-Mmm... delicious! We later tried the GSM that incorporated that gorgeous nose, while finishing a bit sweeter.
Read my guest blog post about my journal from sorority girl to sommelier over at DrinkNectar.com today!
In case you didn't know, this week is National BBQ Week! And while it isn't the best barbecuing weather, grilling is America's pastime and therefore we must celebrate!
Last week, Snooth.com featured these two mouth-watering rib recipes from the cookbook America's Best BBQ and while I was reading it hit me just how perfect many Southern Oregon wines are for BBQ.
Slaugherhouse Five Ribs
2 tablespoons white can sugar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 (2 1/2 pound) slabs spareribs
For the last few weeks I have been putting together wine pairing suggestions for the Rogue River Outfitters weekly recipes. Who knew so many Southern Oregon wines would pair so perfectly with salmon?! I thought I would start running out of easy suggestions, but I haven't even gotten to the Pinot Gris' or Rosés!
Smoked Salmon is a very tough food to match with wine because of its oiliness and smoke. To go with the fat content, the wine must have good acidity (forego those Gewurztraminers). Most wine flavors, being either fruit, spicy, or floral, tend to clash with the smokiness of the salmon. Grüner Veltiner and Sauvignon Blanc go beautifully with smoked salmon with their nice acidity, however, there are limited Grüner Veltiners and Sauvignon Blanc producers in Oregon. Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards makes a Grüner Veltiner, but they are sold out of their 2007 and 2008 vintages (look out for the 2009 soon). Spangler Vineyards produces a Sauvignon Blanc and their 2008 is currently on special for $17.
Quick and Easy Salmon
The fruitiness and acidity of a clean New World Pinot Noir seem almost produced with grilled salmon in mind. The 2007 Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards Pishon Bloc Pinot Noir is a wonderfully balanced wine with bright red fruits and a lingering finish- a perfect compliment to this salmon dish. $31
Baked Salmon Pesto
The Abacela 2009 Albariño would be a great pairing for this dish. Albariño embraces many fresh seafood dishes. Since the recipe contains basil and garlic, selecting a wine that is not too ripe or oaky is important. Albariño has lively acidity, providing a sense of freshness with creamy textures and minerality. $18
Look for the newest salmon recipe this weekend that I pair with Viognier. I was told if there was one salmon recipe to try to commemorate salmon season coming to a close it would be this one. And who can resist the medium-bodied Folin Cellars 2007 Estate Viognier? Its is crisp and refreshing with showings of melon, citrus, honeysuckle and orange blossom on the nose. The palate is true to varietal characteristics, exploding with exotic papaya, mango, honeydew, and cream. $25
To try a delicious salmon dish prepared by the Rogue River Outfitters and paired with Southern Oregon wines, sign up for our Rogue River Rafting Wine Tour.
Remember the knee-snapping Sommelier Starts a Winery video I posted a while back? Well, the creator, Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars, is back at it attacking the ridiculous HR 5034, remember the one I pleaded for you to take action on?
Coincidentally enough, I met Greg at my Introduction Court of Master Sommeliers Course/Exam. He was one of the instructors. As a wine marketer, I was star struck!