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It's wine for those who care more about the label

By Times Staff
Published November 8, 2005

In the world of rare label wines, it's hard to beat the Ginsberg Development Cos. chardonnay from last year. Ditto for the 2005 Natalie and Bill cabernet franc or the Residence Inn of Poughkeepsie pinot noir.

The labels on these bottles are different, but the wine inside comes from the same place: Millbook Vineyards. Operators of this winery perched on a loamy slope in New York's Hudson Valley are pitching customized labels - we make the wine, you make the label - as a way to boost business.

Millbrook has been doing personalized labels for a while, usually upon request for events like weddings and birthdays ("Happy 80th Birthday, Ole Firefighter"). Last year they stepped up marketing by offering 30 local businesses customized labels. As a sweetener, Millbrook included a bottle in its mailings.

Response was strong enough to try it again this year, with a starting price at $18 over the cost of a single case, which can range from $162 to $250.

Of the thousands of wineries in the United States, probably a couple of dozen offer customized labels to retail customers, said Bill Nelson, president of Wine America, a trade group.

DirecTV customers can buy shows for 99 cents

NBC Universal will offer episodes of several television shows it produces on demand and commercial-free for 99 cents to subscribers of DirecTV who use the satellite provider's new DVR recorder.

The agreement announced Monday includes shows that air on NBC, USA, Bravo and the Sci-Fi Channel, including Law & Order: SVU , The Office and Monk. Episodes of the shows will remain available for one week.

Dwarf star of infomercials dies

John E. Rice, a dwarf who starred with his twin brother in campy real estate infomercials and on a TV game show and sitcom, died Saturday (Nov. 5, 2005) as he was about to undergo surgery for a broken leg. He was 53.

Standing 2-feet, 10-inches tall, Mr. Rice and his brother Greg became millionaires doing infomercials, acting in film and on television and giving motivational speeches.

The brothers appeared on numerous national television programs, had their own real estate show called Television Home Hunt " and appeared for 15 years in commercials for Hulett pest control, dressing up as insects, horses, big-game hunters and Elvis.

--Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

[Last modified November 8, 2005, 02:15:36]

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