David Bohrman, 55, is a senior vice president and the Washington bureau chief for CNN, where he is responsible for political coverage and programming. Though he works off-camera, many of his accomplishments as an executive producer have come to define the look of the station's award-winning election coverage, including a hologram-like, 360 degree live video feed of remote reporters. Bohrman recently spoke with Wine Spectator assistant editor Jennifer Fiedler about the intersection of politics, media and wine, his route to becoming a wine lover and his plans for a retirement in wine country.
Wine Spectator: How did you get into wine?
David Bohrman: I grew up in L.A., and although I went to Stanford University, I never once went to Napa. Then I heard about the Wine SpectatorWine Experience. I almost never get a vacation. There was a period where going to the New York Wine Experience was our vacation. We would check into the hotel and spend morning-to-night in the in the big Grand Tasting and the classes. We brought our daughter and her new husband to [a Grand Tour] in Chicago a few years ago. It was the entry into what’s turned into a bit too much of an obsession. We’ve now visited the [Napa and Sonoma] region a few times and are actively looking for a place to buy. All along I’ve said I’ve been on the East Coast temporarily for 30 years and I need to come home to California. That’s where I want to live. Whenever we can get a couple of days, we’ll fly out and taste plenty of wines.
WS: What have you been drinking lately?
DB: We got a big shipment of Flowers, so we’ve been having some of that. At the last event we were at, they had a blind tasting, and the wine that my wife and I both loved was a Spanish Garnacha called Alto Moncayo. When we go to Healdsburg we try to bring home wine that we can only get out there. There’s a little winery out there called Thumbprint. We try to experiment around.
WS: Do you collect wine?
DB: Yes, we started to get on waitlists for mailing lists. Eventually we made it onto the lists and began to get some great wines. We just sort of fell in love with it—to the extent that now we have way too much—about 600 bottles.
WS: Are there certain places that you like to visit in California?
DB: We try to hit the Bubble Room at J Vineyards when we can. Joy Sterling, who used to run the ABC News Los Angeles assignment desk, runs Iron Horse now, and we went and had lunch with her. That was a really spectacular afternoon.
One of the wines we like, Landmark, they were setting up a new part of their vineyard to grow Grenache, and they made individual rows available for purchase. So we own a row there. They had the barrel tasting [recently] and they took me out into the field and we found it— Row 3, Block 6.
WS: Your job must bring you into contact with lots of interesting wine lovers.
DB: It does, but sometimes I don’t even know it. [A while back] the political director for CNN and I were going to have a backchannel conversation with Robert Gibbs, who was about to become press secretary for President Obama. We wanted some privacy, so we went to the Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar, a place I thought no one had heard of. We were having a conversation about the media and the White House, and I look up, and 10 feet away from me is the CNN head of finance with a group of accountants who had somehow found this little wine bar. And my wife and I spent 10 days in the Barossa Valley about 3 or 4 years ago. We became friends with [Penfolds winemaker] Peter Gago. I knew he was in the States for a Grange event on election night, so he came and spent it with us in New York. He’s a political junkie.
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