Sunday, December 28, 2014

Nixon and the Grape

When Jack L. Davies, a graduate of both Harvard and Stanford, organized fourteen other investors to join him in purchasing a vineyard in 1965, he probably never guessed the manner in which their wines would become famous.

By early 1969, Richard Nixon was in the White House, and by early 1972, Nixon was making a historic journey: the first visit by a U.S. president to communist mainland China. Nixon had only one meeting with Mao, but many with Chinese premier Zhou Enlai.

Both Nixon and the Chinese placed emphasis on ceremony and protocol. They visited historic locations and arranged for full media coverage. Concerning one meal, Leon D. Adams writes:

In February 1972, Schramsberg Champagne became world-famous overnight. President Richard M. Nixon had flown an American champagne to Peking to serve at his historic, globally-televised banquet for Red Chinese Premier Chou Enlai. On the day of the banquet a Washington newspaper columnist identified the shipment as thirteen cases of Schramsberg, Nixon’s favorite champagne. Press, TV, and radio spread the name, Davies’s story, and the fame of Napa Valley wine.

The results of Nixon’s trip to China were a gradual normalization of the diplomatic relationship between the United States and mainland communist China, and the sudden popularity of Schramsberg sparkling wine.