The recession slams into the wine business

In the first major layoffs by a big wine player, Jackson Family Wines (parent company of Kendall Jackson) cut 170 full time employees from their staff roles, most of them last Friday. Winemakers, marketers and administrative staff were among those who lost their jobs. In mid-2008, the company employed around 810 employees. Read more here.

But now there's talk that the layoffs violate state and federal notice requirements. Read more here.

Many other wineries have been affected by the economic downturn, like Windsor Vineyards - a high-end, custom-label winery - that cut 16 people at the beginning of January. Blame falls squarely on consumers' reluctance to spend big cash on high-end wines, a segment that formerly saw double-digit growth.