The Great American Wine Tasting Debate

Updated: May 19, 2020

American flag and glass of white wine

Debate season is in full swing for the 2020 Presidential election so why not spice it up and have an American Wine Tasting Debate party?! There is no better time to celebrate all that America has to offer, including great wine.


A Little Presidential Wine History


Did you know that America has a long history with wine? In 1619, at the meeting of the first representative assembly in English America, “Acte 12” was passed which required colonists to plant vineyards. The Acte 12 Chardonnay from Williamsburg Wines commemorates this event.


George Washington had a particular love for Madiera (a fortified, Portuguese wine) which dates back to 1759. He would order a pipe of Madiera. A pipe is basically a barrel that can fill about 700 bottles of wine. When you can’t get wine on demand, this is how you play it.


Thomas Jefferson famously loved everything to do with wine. While he was Minister to France, he fell in love with French wine and learned everything he could even down to the best soil for growing grapevines. He brought this knowledge back to America and with a friend tried to start a winery in Virginia that unfortunately didn’t find success in their lifetimes.

Needless to say, he continued to buy the good stuff as the book 1607: Jamestown and the New World explains. “Elected president in 1801, Jefferson spent $10,000 [in 1607 dollars], a fortune, for wines during his administration.”



American Wine Takes a Foothold


The wine industry in America had its fits and starts. By 1875 California wine started to become popular across the country. Then in 1919 prohibition changed the game. The commercial production of wine stopped, but it was still legal to produce wine for home consumption. This meant the California wine grapes were still in demand. Lucky for us the grapevines were not ripped out to make way for another type of crop.


Once prohibition ended in 1933, it took another 30-40 years to rebuild the winemaking knowledge necessary for high-end commercial wines.


The 1976 blind tasting in France, known as the “Judgment of Paris,