few clouds


Laguna Beach

 Volume 13, Issue 98  |  December 7, 2021

Release of French Beaujolais Nouveau celebrated by Laguna Beach Sister Cities

On Thursday, Nov. 18, Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association (LBSCA) celebrated the French Beaujolais Nouveau release tradition with a party at the home of Tony and Maggie Hempen in San Juan Capistrano. This event was happily attended by 65 guests, members and friends. 

Attendees enjoyed live music with April Walsh and a menu created by Chef Justin Myers. As an added bonus, they sipped the 2021 Release of Beaujolais Nouveau under the clear sky while observing the Lunar Eclipse. 

 The 2020 Beaujolais Nouveau release party was canceled due to COVID, and the outdoor setting was ideal for the festive gathering. 

release of group

Click on photo for a larger image

Photos courtesy of Cookie Lee

(L-R) Cookie Lee, Betsy Jenkins, Maggie Hempen, Jennifer Karam, Karyn Philippsen, Pat Kollenda, Ken Aubuchon, Fabiola Kinder and Susan Davis

There’s a long history behind this annual Beaujolais Nouveau tradition and the gathering of wine lovers on the third Thursday in November. 

release of justin

Click on photo for a larger image

Chef Justin Myers of Delectable OC

At one past midnight on the third Thursday of each November, from little villages and towns like Romanèche-Thorins, over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin their journey through a sleeping France to Paris for immediate shipment to all parts of the world. Banners proclaim the good news: Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! “The New Beaujolais has arrived!” One of the most frivolous and animated rituals in the wine world has begun. 

By the time it is over, more than 65 million bottles, nearly half of the region’s total annual production, will be distributed and drunk around the world. It has become a worldwide race to be the first to serve this new wine of the harvest. In doing so, it has been carried by motorcycle, balloon, truck, helicopter, Concorde jet, elephant, runners and rickshaws to get it to its final destination. 

release of wine bottles

Click on photo for a larger image

In 1951, the celebration was officially born 

It is amazing to realize that just weeks before this wine was a cluster of grapes in a grower’s vineyard. But by an expeditious harvest, a rapid fermentation and a speedy bottling, all is ready at the midnight hour. By French law, Beaujolais Nouveau is to be released no earlier than the third Thursday of November. 

Beaujolais Nouveau began as a local phenomenon in the local bars, cafes, and bistros of Beaujolais and Lyons. Each fall the new Beaujolais would arrive with much fanfare. In pitchers filled from the growers barrels, wine was drunk by an eager population. It was wine made fast to drink while the better Beaujolais was taking a more leisurely course. Eventually, the government stepped in to regulate the sale of all this quickly transported, free-flowing wine. 

In 1938, regulations and restrictions were put in place to restrict the where, when and how of all this carrying on. After the war years, in 1951, these regulations were revoked by the region’s governing body, the Union Interprofessional des Vins de Beaujolais (UIVB) and the Beaujolais Nouveau was officially recognized. The official release date was set for November 15th. Beaujolais Nouveau was officially born. 

release of cookie and husband

Click on photo for a larger image

(L-R) Cookie Lee and husband John Lin, Grace and Brad Balen

By this time, what was just a local tradition had gained so much popularity that the news of it reached Paris. The race was born. It wasn’t long thereafter that the word spilled out of France and around the world. In 1985, the date was again changed, this time to the third Thursday of November tying it to a weekend and making the celebration complete. But wherever the new Beaujolais went, importers had to agree not to sell it before midnight on the third Thursday of November. 

On a more technical note, the wine is strictly speaking, more properly termed Beaujolais Primeur. By French and European rules, a wine released during the period between its harvest and a date in the following spring, is termed primeur. A wine released during the period between its own and the following year’s harvest, is termed nouveau. Well, enough of that. 

release of bar area

Click on photo for a larger image

Fun was had by all!

Finally, the race from grape to glass may be silly, but half the fun is knowing that on the same night, in homes, cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and bistros around the world, the same celebration is taking place. It hasn’t the pedigree to be a classic wine, but it is always good. Any other opinion you may regard as boorish and uninformed.

This LBSCA knows how to have a good time, and this was just one of the many events they host. Why not become a member and be part of the fun? If you would like to join, go to and get in on all the festivities. 

The LBSCA has a primary goal to establish and maintain long-term relationships between the City of Laguna Beach and its sister cities, Menton, France; San José del Cabo, Mexico; and St. Ives, England. These partnerships will encourage a collaborative exchange of cultural, educational and business activities. LBSCA is a member of Sister Cities International, an organization providing leadership and guidance in the establishment and operation of sister city organizations worldwide. 

Throughout the year, LBSCA promotes at least one event honoring each Sister City. On the third Saturday in June, the entire city comes out to celebrate the Sister City of Menton, France. The Fête de La Musique, worldwide music day, brings together some favorite musicians who play on the corners and streets of Laguna Beach all day long. This free music festival has become the signature event for Laguna Beach Sister Cities, and is supported and promoted by the City of Laguna Beach.


Lana Johnson, Editor -

Tom Johnson, Publisher -

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

Email: with news releases, letters, etc.


Email: for questions about advertising


© 2021 Stu News Laguna - All Rights Reserved.