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Trump wines are pretty good, but I won’t sell them – Chicago Tribune
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Trump wines are pretty good, but I won’t sell them – Chicago Tribune

Relax, world-weary wine fans – this isn’t another political article just waiting to ruin your breakfast-time reading. True, it mentions one very orange-faced Republican frontrunner, but author Erin Scala is avoiding talk of partisan issues and super delegates in favor of highlighting what happens to wine when it becomes overshadowed by its branding.

In marketing, branding becomes everything. The quality of a product doesn’t mean very much if the company that makes it can’t get consumers interested enough to give said product a try – and even worse is when the product is in fact pretty great and for whatever reasons consumers are turned off from the get go. This is what concerns Scala, who’s a sommelier at restaurant’s Petit Pois and Fleurie in Charlottesville, VA.

As those of us who live near the winery know, though, the real shame about Trump Winery is not that its wines are not good. It’s that some of them actually are – but these days, their association with the GOP frontrunner is likely to keep them off wine lists they otherwise belong on.

I work in the restaurant business in Charlottesville, Va., and though I’m a short distance from the winery and the restaurants where I work feature Virginia wines, I make a conscious decision not to carry the Trump brand. While the election might take over your dinner conversation, a welcome table is not one that pours liquid politics down your throat. (For the same reason, if other candidates got into the beverage industry, I wouldn’t be serving Clinton Chardonnay, Bernie Beer, or Cruztraminer, either.)

There’s an old adage that warns never to talk about politics or religion in polite company, especially with strangers, and you most certainly don’t want to bring up either topic when you’re pouring wine to complement some unassuming couple’s long-awaited romantic dinner out. Even placing Trump wines on a wine list creates an opportunity for someone looking to vent about the current state of politics, and someone’s t-bone steak is bound to get ruined, either literally or figuratively, in the process.

The real bummer here is that Scala’s understandable desire to avoid a dining room full of eager debaters means she has to avoid wines from a portfolio that is far more palatable than <insert the candidate you hate here>. There’s some history and prestige behind it, too:

In 1999, the first vineyards went in the ground as Kluge Estate and set the tone for what would later become Trump Winery. For a greatly discounted price, in 2011, the Trumps bought the winery and its property from local socialite and entrepreneur Patricia Kluge after her business collapsed. Under the Kluge name, the vineyard’s wines have been served at the White House and even at Chelsea Clinton’s wedding rehearsal dinner.

Trump Winery is one of the few “estate” wineries in the area focusing on growing their own fruit as opposed to buying it from neighbors. It’s an operation headed up by a serious winemaker, Jonathan Wheeler. Wheeler makes a full spectrum of wines: sparkling, white, rosé, red and dessert wines. He has a vast tract of 200 vineyard acres to play with, and he stands in a key position to influence the direction of the entire region.

Talk about a deliciously bi-partisan beverage. The bottom line is this: Trump might not be your cup of Cabernet, but the real bummer is that a talented winemaker and nearly two-decades of hard work aren’t as widely available for much-deserved appreciation. Trump will probably be fine, but it’s never the big guy that gets hurt. Instead, as Scala strikingly puts it, “Unfortunately, now that the label talks so loudly, what’s in the bottle has lost its voice,” and that’s a crime of impeachment-worthy proportions.

 

Check out the original article: Trump wines are pretty good, but I won’t sell them – Chicago Tribune

 

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