Martha Stewart gets behind bars with her own wine label

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The Independent US

If you are planning to entertain and do it the Martha Stewart way, be warned.

The salmon florets must be just so, your table centrepiece composed of seasonal fruits of matching hues and the beds upstairs perfectly plumped. (An upcoming issue of her magazine will provide instructions on correct bed-making.)

It is enough to drive the most energetic host to drink. Cheers, therefore, to the news that come next year we will be able to buy Martha Stewart-branded wines, perfect to wash away the stress of striving to keep up with her vaunted standards.

That Stewart, 67, whose long reign as America Queen Bee of domestic perfection was recently interrupted by a spell in prison, should be venturing into the booze business is not altogether surprising. The wine cellar is about the last corner of the American household she has not yet penetrated.

Only a lucky few will have the privilege of swilling Martha's own label. Under a partnership deal with the giant E & J Gallo Winery of California, Stewart will in the first year lend her name only to 15,000 cases of wine.

New Yorkers, who may be the last people likely to succumb to the Martha spell, will have to wait. Her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, says the wine will initially be shipped only to a few cities, including Boston, Charlotte and Denver, where her base of fans is apparently strongest.

Since her conviction on charges related to insider share dealing in 2004 and her release from prison in March 2005, Stewart has been focused on reviving the fortunes of her company, which produces television and radio programmes as well as several magazines, all featuring her and her visions of good taste.

Wine-purveying will be a small drop in her ocean of ventures. In the past few months, she has launched a line of more than 2,000 home accessories exclusively for Macy's and joined hands with KB Homes to build entire Martha Stewart branded houses, soon to spring up in six states.

What's next? Martha Stewart cars? Actually, maybe. "I would love to design a car for the busy woman," she recently told The Kansas City Star.

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