Intimidated By Wine

I bet there was a time when the White House, under no circumstances, would have served a California wine at a State dinner for a visiting leader from Europe. That time would have been long ago, but nonetheless I’ll bet there was a time. And the reason is probably the same that explains how Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius could have been led to make this comment about her state’s wine:

You should be thankful we don’t make wine in Kansas. If you ever see Kansas wine, don’t drink it.”


For some reason, people tend to get self conscious about the quality of their home state products when faced with someone from a place that serves as an icon for that product.

In the case of the Kansas Governor, the unfortunate quip came out of her mouth while in Washington State at a fundraising event for the Washington Governor. I suppose it’s the notion that fine wine has always had a way of bestowing some sort of sophistication on those associated with it, be it as a producer, drinker or representative of a place where the wines are understood to be outstanding. Governor Sebelius clearly didn’t want to be associated with an industry that did not have the reputation equal to that of Washington States. She was intimidated.

The Kansas governor, if asked about either Washington Wines or Kansas Wines or the comparison of the two really should have responded this way:

"Kansas may not have a leg up on the great wines of Washington…Yet. We grow more than 20 different wine grapes in the state and our wines are getting better every year. Give us a few years and I’ll be happy to bring the Kansas wines to a tasting alongside Washington’s."

Given the unknown limits of technology and the advances in viticultural techniques, wine regions like Kansas can produce outstanding, regional, unique wines if they are encouraged to pursue winemaking. That encouragement really should be coming from the the State’s political leadership.

The problem that Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius faces is that technology and science don’t appear to have developed a cure for Foot-in-Mouth Decease.

4 Responses

  1. Wine Boy! - November 10, 2007

    what? No New Mexico wine? And if you answer something along the line like you need a passport I’ll have Bill shoot you!
    Washington wines …..
    Bring em on!

  2. Kansan - November 14, 2007

    Interestingly, once the comments hit the newsstands in the state, no apology came from the Governor’s office. In fact, the only “explanation” is that the Governor’s comments were “taken out of context.” The only context that the comments were taken out of is the context that her “joke” (using the state as her punchline), was intended for a political audience outside of the State, not for Kansans.
    The Kansas Governor has political aspirations that extend beyond the State’s boarders, and she is willing to go to any length, including insulting her own state, to further her political goals.
    This isn’t the first time she has left the state hanging in order to score political points. And it won’t be the last.

  3. Kansas born and raised - November 20, 2007

    As as a Kansas I chuckled at Ms. Sebilius’ comment. I really wished she was wrong. As you have visited the “vineyards” in Kansas you quickly realize that they aren’t quite at the level of most the world. Probably because the likes of Carrie Nation were anxious to wipe out any sorts of alcoholic beverages during prohibition. Kansas is still in the learning phases of wine making. Many of the vineyards are not really vineyards but orchards and the like that offer “apple wines” or grape flavored liquors. Most vineyards seem to be ready to serve the wines almost immediatley and have not developed the patience, experience or knowledge to make a fine wine.
    If she had said anything about our Bar-b-que , beef or wheat she would have been tarred and feathered.
    Most wine lovers in Kansas are like me and sadly agreed. Washington wine is by no means the best in the world but is definitely better than any thing out of Kansas…..YET.

  4. Mike - November 20, 2012

    Oh Dr. Bill…. so sorry to see this wonderful web site go by the widyase. You have done such a wonderful job. The Flint Hills need all the help they can get. Thank you for your great work here. Will it continue to exist in cyberspace?Jackie

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