* ... PINOT: Former Bakersfield resident Derek Benham has done it again, building a private label wine company into a national powerhouse and selling it for a nice profit. That's the word from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that said Benham has sold his Mark West pinot noir brand for $160 million to beverage giant Constellation Brands. "The deal, one of the largest local wine label sales in recent history, marks the second time wine entrepreneur Derek Benham has built a small Sonoma County wine brand into a national powerhouse and sold it," the paper said. "In 2001, Benham and his brother, Courtney Benham, sold their Blackstone merlot wine brand for $140 million to a partnership created by Constellation and BRL Hardy. The transaction includes the Mark West trademark and inventories of wines from three California appellations: California, Russian River and Santa Lucia. Grapes from the Russian River appellation make up a small fraction, less than 1 percent, of the pinot noir produced by Mark West."
* ... HALL OF FAME: Kudos to Andrea Zander Norman who is being inducted into the Northern California Tennis Hall of Fame at Stanford University. Andrea is the daughter of Phil and MaryLee Zander and grew up on the tennis courts at the Bakersfield Racquet Club. Not only did Andrea win the Valley Doubles title with Karin Blom, but she also worked at the Racquet Club flipping hamburgers for Gerry Karr. Thanks to old friend Ginnie Eschner for sharing this bit of good news.
* ... OLYMPICS: A fund raiser to help send the family of local wrestler Jake Varner to the London Olympics will be held at the SkyBar Lounge on Rosedale Highway next week. The event is being put on by the Coyote Club Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 4208 Rosedale Highway.
* ... SPOTTED: Reader Ginny Espinoza spotted this touching scene recently involving a young hand and his dog on a hot Bakersfield day; "A young man walking with his little dog suddenly bent down to feel his doggie's feet - then put his hand on the sidewalk cement - and continued his walk with his dog in his arms! Regardless what anyone says – I love your column and look forward to reading it!"
* ... ACHIEVER: Laurie Barnes, a graduate of Bakersfield Christian High School, is spending the summer in southern France as an exchange student. She will be a junior at Hillsdale College in Michigan, where her sister Katie graduated from. Katie went on to attend George Mason University School of Law in Virginia and is preparing for the bar exam. The girls are the daughters for Brad and Julie Barnes.