The most important wine presidents to date have been Thomas Jefferson – for being obsessed about wine, Franklin D. Roosevelt – for repealing Prohibition and John F. Kennedy – for being the best at partying.
Today is Presidents Day here are some interesting facts we dug up regarding the history of wines and our Presidents. President Washington, the man the holiday was originally meant to honor, actually distilled his own whiskey. When it came to wine, he drank Madeira, often three to five glasses a night after dinner.
President Lincoln held an actual liquor license back in his days in Salem, Illinois. For a modest $7 dollars, in 1833, he and his partner William F. Berry got a tavern license that permitted them to sell a “1/2 pint of wine or French brandy for $.25,” as well as a “1/2 pint of rum, peach brandy, or Holland gin for $.1875.”
All the way back in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd put local wines on the menu at a State Dinner. One of these wines is mentioned by name – Norton, a grape indigenous to North America grown by Missouri winemakers who were German immigrants.
While posted in France on diplomatic duties, Thomas Jefferson, in the 1780s drank a lot of wine, and ordered even more to be sent back to the US (roughly 400 bottles per year – some shipped by barrel), many from Bordeaux. He upped the ante to 600 bottles per year while living in the White House. Given that level of consumption it’s no surprise he left the White House having racked up a wine bill of around $10,000 dollars.
President Jefferson strongly believed that America could and should produce its own wines. His initial attempts to grow European grapes (vitis vinifera) at his plantation in Monticello ended in failure, but ultimately his thesis proved accurate. Today the American wine industry is one of the world’s largest; without Jefferson’s relentless early encouragement who’s to say if we’d have accomplished all we have.
Over the years a number of wineries have appeared on the menu for state dinners. Here are just a few of the American labels that have made an appearance: Inglenook, Duckhorn, Chimney Rock, Dumol, Flowers, Ridge.

In honor of Presidents week we offer the following wines:

Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Alluring aromas of lychee, pineapple cake, and nectarine leap from the glass, along with zesty notes of grapefruit and lime. On the palate, this beautifully structured wine strikes a seamless balance between its rich, silky texture and the crisp acidity that adds poise and freshness to the abundant layers of bright citrus fruit. Blend: 84% Sauvignon Blanc, 16% Semillon

Inglenook Rubicon Cabernet 2010 Wine Spectator: 93 points “A classy, well-structured effort, with flavors that build and gain depth around a core of loamy earth, espresso, dark berry, cedary oak and tobacco. Most impressive on the graceful, long and persistent finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot. Drink now through 2026. 3,700 cases made.” –JL

Chimney Rock Cabernet 2013 Decanter: 94 points Deep red in color, the Cabernet Sauvignon is rich with ripe fruit: black cherry, cassis, and blackberry highlighted by hints of cocoa powder, vanilla and toffee. On the palate this wine is richly textured and shows classic lush mid-palate and a lengthy rich finish.

Dumol Russian River Pinot Noir 2015 Beautifully fragrant, aromatic Pinot: cranberry, pomegranate, fresh raspberry and classic black cherry. Licorice, rose petal, thyme and graphite complexity, freshly-turned earth. Sweet fruit entry, broad rich and tactile but remains lively and supple. Rhubarb compote, darker cassis, baked plum — deep layered intensity. Subtle red-apple-skin tannins and lingering anise perfume. Persistent resonating finish. Drink between late-2017 and 2024.

Flowers Perennial Red Sonoma 2009 Flowers’ 2009 “Perennial” is an unusual blend of 48% Pinot Noir, 36% Syrah, and 16% Pinot Meunier, with only 853 cases produced.

Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel 2014 One hundred percent Zinfandel tipping the scales at 14.4%, this straightforward, dark ruby-colored Zinfandel offers briary, spicy, easygoing strawberry and black cherry fruit. It is medium-bodied, cleanly made, and best drunk over the next 4-5 years.