President Bush is scheduled to visit Napa Valley on Thursday to tour California and assess damages caused by this summer’s wildfires.
Here’s a piece of friendly, non-partisan advice: Embrace California wine. For that matter, embrace all American wine and include all the states.
The success of California wine, and that of Washington and Oregon, is something Americans should be proud of, and who better than the President to pay tribute to these industries.
There are so many feel-good stories about wine that it would seem like an easy way for the President to praise the farmers, winemakers and vintners—the men, women, old and young—who are the backbone of U.S. wine. If ever there has been an American success story, wine is it.
Wine has been an amazing growth industry, creating jobs in many segments, from hospitality to service industries to distribution. Wine is also the cornerstone of dining and an increasingly important consideration in our diets. Or how about a nod to wine and what it adds to the U.S. coffers?
Internationally, this country has created many enemies, and there is plenty of hostility directed toward Americans. Those who travel outside our borders often experience this sense of curiosity about "what’s up" with Americans. Thankfully, California wine is one of the bright spots. It has become one of the most positive symbols of American industry and creativity, and it serves as a positive ambassador for what’s going right in this country.
I wish the President would take a few moments while in Napa the next few days to say so, this being his second visit in the past two years. As the first sitting president to ever visit this wine region, he could acknowledge Robert Mondavi’s accomplishments. He could talk about the rise of Hispanics and blacks, their American dreams and their contributions to our society and wine culture. He could talk about Alice Waters and her Edible Schoolyards or efforts to promote healthier eating habits among our youth. Heck, he could even have a fish taco and a malt at Taylor's Refresher in St. Helena and hang out with the tourists. There's a reason so many millions visit wine country.
The more I think about it, the fact that American wine is seldom ever mentioned, much less praised, by national politicians bothers me. Is there something wrong with wine? Is there something wrong with our wine culture or the contributions that wine is making to our society that I’m missing?