This week the Drake Vine was amazed to watch Donald Trump unashamedly promote his own vineyard and Trump-branded wines at his press conference following two primary victories. Who would have thought that Donald Trump, a teetotaller, owned a vineyard? Well technically speaking he doesn’t. Nor, as Trump boasted, is it the “largest winery on the east coast” at “close to 2,000 acres”.
Although Donald Trump purchased the Virginia-based Trump Winery estate in 2011, it is now owned and managed by his son Eric and, according to the winery website, “Trump Winery is a registered trade name of Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing LLC, which is not owned, managed or affiliated with Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization or any of their affiliates.”
Virginia wine producers may be thankful to Donald Trump for highlighting Virginia as an important wine-producing region. Although wine has been made in Virginia since the first European settlers arrived in the 1600s, hot humid summers can be a challenge to grape cultivation, and it has only been in the last 20 years that the region has received serious recognition for its wines. Leading Virginia varieties include Cabernet Franc and Merlot, among reds, and Chardonnay, Viognier and Vidal Blanc, among whites. Virginia now ranks as the fifth largest wine producing state in the US.
It is perhaps ironic that Trump Winery should be in Virginia, which bears the nickname “Mother of Presidents” because more US presidents have been born there than in any other US state.
Should Trump win the US presidential elections, he’d be in the unusual position of being the only US president ever to have his own range of branded wines despite being a non-drinker. By contrast, the US has had several wine-loving presidents. They include George Washington, who reportedly had a thirst for Portuguese Madeira, and Thomas Jefferson, whose all-rounded passion for wine led him on an unsuccessful attempt to grow grapes in his native Virginia.
In more recent times, Richard Nixon had a love of fine French Bordeaux and Champagne, which he would allegedly drink himself while serving cheaper wine to White House dinner guests. And Ronald Reagan is remembered for the support he gave to American wine producers, especially those from his home state California.