Don’t Count on Obama as the “Wine President”
I am starting to be a bit concerned with the mountains of hope that are being heaped upon our president elect. Besides the hope that he will be a new kind of president, a war ending president, an economy mixing president, a health-care fixing president and truly green president, it also appears there is hope running around the wine industry that he will be a "Wine President".
The evidence that Obama is something of a connoisseur or even a simple wine lover is, I think, quite scant. What we have is a People Magazine article in which a bottle of Kendall Jackson wine is seen in a photo sitting on a counter in the Obama home. Then we have the fact that the Obama's home in Chicago has a 1000-bottle wine cellar. Taken together, what this means is that the Obama bought a very nice home and drink wine occasionally. But I don't think it means that Obama will necessarily be the Wine-Lover-In-Chief.
Over the past few weeks I've spoke with three different wineries that are actively angling to get their wines in the White House or in inaugural events. Achieving the latter isn't so tough to do as long as you don't have your sights set on the official events and are willing to have your wine served at balls sponsored by industries, associations and interest groups. Still, there is a sense that this president will be a real "Wine President". I don't think we should get our hopes up.
Today the Santa Rosa Press Democrat ran a story by Kevin McCallum that outlines the No Sponsorship policies that the Obama transition team has placed on the official balls and events associated with the inauguration. Still, it looks like Korbel will continue to be the American Sparkling wine of choice for the inaugural events.
I'm sure the new president will, like most recent presidents, highlight American wines at state dinners and such. And I suspect, and hope, that the wines of Illinois will be highlighted in the White House. But what I don't expect is any public display of wine loving on the part of Barack Obama. And that's OK. Despite the fact that he could single handedly give the American wine industry a bump by proclaiming his love of our wines and being willing to associate himself with wine drinking, I think we have a better chance of him living up to the hope that he will be the Economy Fixing or War Ending or Green President.