Goodbye, margaritas? The world is headed toward a tequila shortage

Published: Thursday, February 08, 2018 @ 2:56 PM

Refreshing Facts about the Margarita

There has been a spate of headlines over the past week heralding something pretty awful -- potentially less tequila on the liquor shelves.

“A Tequila Shortage Could Be on the Horizon,” a Fortune article announced on Feb. 1. Stories from other news outlets quickly followed, and they all have a similar doom-filled message.

Essentially, tequila producers can’t keep up with demand. That’s led to the skyrocketing cost for agave -- the Mexican plant from which tequila is distilled -- which has shot up six-fold in the past two years. That price squeezes the margins for smaller distillers and causes worry that even the bigger companies will be affected, according to Reuters.

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Since the plant takes seven to eight years to reach full maturity, the ideal point at which agave farmers harvest them for tequila, some farmers have resorted to pulling their plants early, before the agave is fully mature. The young agave doesn’t yield as much tequila, producing a cascading problem of supply.

The shortages are expected to be much worse this year, and they might not get better until 2021, “as improved planting strategies take years to bear fruit,” according to Reuters. In that time, small producers might not have the capital to stay in business.

>> Related: Jimmy Buffett to open Margaritaville retirement community

“Already, the 17.7 million blue agaves planted in 2011 in Mexico for use this year fall far short of the 42 million the industry needs to supply 140 registered companies,” the Reuters story said.

Finding sustainability in the tequila industry has been an ongoing issue. Though tequila was once that cheap liquor we took shots of in college with some lime and salt, in recent years, it has been recognized globally as an artisanal spirit made from a particular species of Mexican plant. With that recognition has come greater demand for tequila — and thus, a greater strain on the Agave tequilana plant.

>> On MyStatesman.com: Tequila’s latest chapter finds it as a sophisticated sipping spirit

Mezcal and sotol have similarly found popularity, primarily in the U.S. because of our proximity to the Mexican border. But the demand isn’t nearly as high for them, and mezcal can be made from a wider range of agave plants. Tequila, which is technically a type of mezcal, comes specifically from blue agave.

What does all that mean for us? Well, we’ll probably still be able to order a margarita from our neighborhood bar in the coming year. But the price of our drinks and our bottles at the liquor store might depend upon whether the large producers, like Patron, experience the pinch that smaller tequila makers are already enduring. 

Industry insiders forecast that they will and that the problem isn’t about to let up soon.

“We are sure this will have a strong impact on the big firms such as Cuervo or Sauza,” Raul Garcia, president of the National Committee for Agave Production in Tequila, told Reuters, which noted those firms haven’t yet had problems paying for agave. 

An Austin-based brand, Dulce Vida Tequila, has also managed to stay afloat in the turbulent industry.

Tequila brands like the Austin-based Dulce Vida are finding ways to deal with skyrocketing agave prices, though many in the industry worry about a coming tequila shortage.(Thao Nguyen/Austin American-Statesman)

“Dulce Vida is mindful of its consumers when developing products and pricing,” according to a PR representative. “Amidst this initial shift, the brand has opted to remain consistent with their current pricing and premium-quality product.”

In 2016, Dulce Vida sold to Milestone Brands, a beverage development company formed by two former Deep Eddy Vodka executives. Other tequila brands have been consolidating as of late: Patron, from Austin billionaire John Paul DeJoria, recently sold to Bacardi, while George Clooney’s Casamigos was acquired by Diageo last year for $1 billion.

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Parent’s cellphone video appears to show school bus driver texting and driving

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 8:12 AM

A parent said he saw a Georgia bus driver texting while driving. (Photo by WSBTV.com)
WSBTV.com
A parent said he saw a Georgia bus driver texting while driving. (Photo by WSBTV.com)(WSBTV.com)

A parent who didn’t want to be identified sent WSB video that appears to show a DeKalb County school bus driver looking down at her phone while on the road.

The parent said he saw the driver texting while driving on I-20 in Georgia and started filming. He said he believes the driver’s actions were dangerous and irresponsible.

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The video shows what appears to be a cell phone in the bus driver's hand while she steers the wheel with her right hand. A student is seated on the bus.

Katrecia Lo, another parent, told WSB she’s also seen a DeKalb County bus driver on the phone while behind the wheel.

“To know they’re picking up phones and texting while our kids are in their care is gut-wrenching,” Lo said. 

“The DeKalb County School District is currently investigating what appears to be a bus driver using a phone while driving,” a statement from the district said. “This behavior is completely unacceptable. Not only is it illegal, it is not safe for other drivers, and it is a danger to the district’s staff and students. The safety of our students and staff is paramount to the DeKalb County School District.” 

There is no word that the district has taken any disciplinary action against the driver. The parent who recorded the video hopes quick action is taken so something like this never happens again. 

“No child should be in danger,” he said. “No child. That”s my first thought: the children.”

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Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein turns self in to face rape, other charges

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 8:30 AM
Updated: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 8:30 AM

VIDEO: Weinstein Turns Himself In

Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein turned himself in to authorities on Friday to face charges related to sexual abuse allegations in New York.

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Update 5/25 8:35 a.m.: Police confirmed in a statement released Friday morning that Weinstein has been charged with rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct in cases involving two women.

Update 5/25 7:28 a.m.: Weinstein has turned himself in to police to face charges in a sexual misconduct investigation. He will be charged with first- and third-degree rape in one case and first-degree sex act in a second, CNN reported.

 

Reporters waited as Weinstein arrived at the police department just before 7:30 a.m. After booking, he will then be transferred to Manhattan Criminal Court to face his charges, NBC News reported.

The charges, according to sources close to the investigation, come from the allegations made by two women, NBC News reported. The women have not been identified, however, many big-name stars have accused Weinstein of various acts. Some of the women who have come out against the mogul include: Rose McGowan, Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek, Lupita Nyong’o and Ashley Judd, NBC News reported. Their speaking out sparked the #MeToo movement.

Update 5/25, 6:39 a.m.: Weinstein is expected to arrive at the NYPD’s 1st Precinct station Friday morning, WNBC reported. It could be as early as 7 a.m., according to Deadline

Police will fingerprint Weinstein, have mug shots taken and be given an arrest ID. Then he will be taken to his court appearance on felony complaint based on allegations of to women, WNBC reported. It is expected he will leave court on $1 million bail and will be issued an ankle monitor, sources told WNBCDeadline reported that Weinstein will also have to forfeit his passport.

Update 5/24, 8:47 p.m.:  Weinstein is expected to face first-degree rape and third-degree rape charges in one case, and a first-degree criminal sex act charge in another case, law enforcement officials told The New York Times.

The Times is reporting that the sex act charge is related to an incident with Lucia Evans, who told the New Yorker and investigators that Weinstein assaulted her during a casting meeting.

It’s unclear which of Weinstein’s many victims over two decades may be at the center of the rape case.

 

Original story: Two unidentified law enforcement officials told The New York Times on Thursday that Weinstein is expected to surrender to authorities Friday morning.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is expected to bring charges against Weinstein one day after a grand jury convened to hear evidence in connection to allegations of sexual abuse that have been levied against the well-known producer, according to WNBC

 

Dozens of women came forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual harassment and misconduct after the Times published a report last year detailing complaints of sexual harassment made against Weinstein over nearly three decades. Weinstein, who co-founded entertainment company Miramax, was ousted from his position at The Weinstein Company in the wake of the Times report. 

New York police opened an investigation into Weinstein in 2015, after Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez told officers that she was groped by Weinstein without consent.

Authorities outfitted Gutierrez with a wire and had her meet with the producer. In an audio recording of the meeting obtained by The New Yorker, Weinstein could be heard apologizing after he’s confronted about the alleged assault.

>> Harvey Weinstein recording was not enough to charge him, DA says

Despite the recording, no charges were filed against Weinstein.

Prosecutors said that they were never consulted about the New York Police Department’s plan to get Weinstein to admit to the assault on tape and that the tape was not enough evidence to convict the 65-year-old. Police defended their actions, saying that the recording was one of multiple bits of evidence collected by officers and presented to the Manhattan District Attorney for prosecution.

>> Harvey Weinstein investigations launched in New York, London

New York City police said last year that they were working to learn of any additional complaints against Weinstein.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

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Teen charged in crash that killed 3, including a baby: ‘I never saw anyone coming’

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 5:55 PM

Teen Charged After Crash That Killed 3, Including 3-Month-Old Baby

A metro Atlanta teenager who is charged in a crash that killed three people, including a 3-month-old baby, said she was looking at the road at the time of the deadly incident.

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"I never saw anyone coming,” Zoe Reardon, 18, told WSB-TV. “My eyes were on the road,” she said.

Reardon faces eight misdemeanor charges that include vehicular homicide and the use of an electronic communication device under the age of 18 in connection with the Sept. 9 crash in Woodstock, Georgia.

Reardon's attorney, Manny Arora, told WSB his client texted her dad about dinner two minutes before the deadly accident. At the time, she was stopped in traffic elsewhere, he said.

However, investigators say Reardon "failed to exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle ... and engaged in the action of putting away her cellular telephone which distracted her," a point the teen disputes. 

“I wasn't doing anything,” she said.

>> Related: Teen charged in crash that killed hurricane evacuee, baby

Kaitlin Marie Hunt, 28, her baby Riley and family friend Kathy Deming, 61, of Marietta, were hit by Reardon’s SUV about 8 p.m. while trying to cross Arnold Mill Road, according to the sheriff’s office.

Riley died that night.

Days later, Hunt and Deming died.

Hunt, a Marietta native who was with the Coast Guard in Florida, had come to metro Atlanta to escape Hurricane Irma.

I see my family’s hurt, my parents' hurt,” Reardon said. “I can only imagine their families’ hurt must be four times what we’re going through.” 

Arora said investigators earlier told her family they saw no basis for charges. 

"No crosswalk and these people happen to be crossing, and she happened to be driving, and it's just tragic," Arora said.

Cherokee County Solicitor General Jessica Moss said she never told anyone there would be no charges.

>> Related: Florida mother who fled to metro Atlanta dies days after baby

Zoe Reardon told WSB that she is a straight-A student who has a partial scholarship to Southern Methodist University in Texas. But she now has the charges from the crash to deal with, and thinks of family members of the crash victims.

"I pray for the hearts,” she said, “and I pray for their healing."

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Stepping behind the walls: Nine new things we learned about Toy Story Land

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 8:01 AM

Jessie and Rex loom over the track of the Slinky Dog Dash track.
Walt Disney World
Jessie and Rex loom over the track of the Slinky Dog Dash track.(Walt Disney World)

The countdown to the opening of Toy Story Land on June 30th is well under way, and I had the opportunity to step behind the themed walls at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see the land’s progress.

If you aren’t familiar with Toy Story Land, it is an 11 acre addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios that ‘shrinks’ guests down to the size of a Green Army Man toy so they can step into the whimsical and beloved world of PIXAR Animation Studios' blockbuster franchise set in Andy’s backyard. 

The environment is highly intricate and themed, and as you are walking through the land guests will notice that all of the buildings are built from other toys and boxes with familiar faces from the Toy Story Franchise.

Inside of Toy Story Land guests will find that there are two new attractions, a reimagined entrance to Toy Story Mania, a quick-service dining location, character interactions, shopping locations, and more. 

The visit to the Toy Story Land construction site and presentations from creative directors gave our group a good idea of how the land would all come together with new insights into the project.

>> Read more trending news 

Nine new things we learned about Toy Story Land:

1. Mr. Potato Head returns to Toy Story Mania

In addition to the all new facade and queue set-up, guests will once again be able to interact with the fantastic Mr. Potato Head animatronic in the Toy Story Mania queue. 

The Mr. Potato Head animatronic, who entertained waiting guests with real-time conversations and tricks such as removing his ear, was removed in 2015 as the third track of the attraction was installed.

2. Slinky Dog Dash is a thrilling family coaster even for the younger visitors

Per Kenny Person, a General Manager at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Slinky Dog Dash attration will accommodate the average four year old with a height requirement of 38 inches.

Slinky Dog Dash is a family coaster themed as if Andy built it in his backyard using his Mega Coaster Play Kit and some of his other favorite toys. The attraction’s ride vehicles, inspired by the character of Slinky in the film, will send riders dipping, dodging and dashing around turns and drops Andy has created to stretch Slinky’s coils to the max.

3. Taking a spin on Alien Swirling Saucers

During his presentation, Kenny also let us know that the Alien Swirling Saucer will accommodate the average two year old with a height requirement of 32 inches.

Once on-board Alien Swirling Saucer guests will find that they are inside a play set that Andy won at Pizza Planet. The Aliens have powered up their flying saucers for a wild ride under the lights set to an out-of-this-world intergalactic soundtrack. And if you’re really lucky, you might just get “chosen” by the claw.

4. Everywhere you look there is a detail you won’t want to miss

When you are in the land it is hard to overlook the amazing amount of detail that was put into this expansion from the fences made of toys, to the Tinker-Toy light posts, to the scale of the plantings and Andy’s large footprints in the pathways.

The high level of detail created by the Walt Disney Imagineering is fantastic and transportive. 

5. A Welcoming Howdy

The entrance to the new Toy Story Land area is on the right just before you reach the PIXAR Place gates, Walt Disney World still hasn’t announced what will happen to this area of the park when the land officially opens, and you will be greeted by none other than Woody himself.

Standing nearly 20 feet tall, Woody is tipping his hat (which measures 7’ feet, brim to brim) and standing next to the marquee which is made out of blocks and a 4-foot-tall yo-yo – just a few of the many toys that make up Toy Story Land.

6. Woody’s Lunch Box

Last month we got a sneak peek at what guests will find on the menu at Woody’s Lunch Box, and one of the chef’s creating the menu gave us a better look at what the location will be offering throughout the day and the creative process.

The menu draws inspiration from lunches you wish you has a child prepared at a nostalgic location that will be able to smoke meats and vegetable on-site as well as scratch make a variety of soups, sides, and entrees.

7. Food Allergies and Modified Diets inside Toy Story Land

Since the Woody’s Lunch Box quick-service dining location does have a larger kitchen, they will be able to accommodate food allergies and modified diets.

One thing that they chef mentioned was that they would be offering a vegan chili with vegan cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches.

8. Merchandise

Earlier this month Good Morning America shared a special behind the scenes look at the merchandise you will find once Toy Story Land opens, and we had the opportunity to see some of these new pieces that are going to fly off of the shelves!

The merchandise is split into two categories with one that focuses on commemorating the opening season of Toy Story Land and another with merchandise based on the attractions found in the land.

The biggest sellers will absolutely be the Slinky Dog and Alien headbands, the light-up Slinky dog, and commemorative opening t-shirts in a variety of styles.

9. There is still a lot to be done!

While the construction site is filled with activity, Disney Imagineers are confident that they will have Toy Story Land ready for guests on June 30th!

We will continue to share more about the opening of Toy Story Land on icFlorida’s websiteInstagramTwitter, and Facebook as information becomes available. 

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