We all know that drinking wine can lead to great conversation and camaraderie. It can even smooth rough waters in certain relationships. Now we learn that wine has done it again. Turns out wine provides a venue for budding Congressional bipartisanship in Washington. Introducing the Congressional Wine Caucus.
In 1999, two California Congressmen and wine growers started the Congressional Wine Caucus. Representatives Mike Thompson, a Democrat, and George Radanovich (retired), a Republican, started the group to “protect the interests of the vibrant wine industry from grape to glass.” After all, as they say, “the U.S. wine industry $162 billion annually to the U.S. economy and the equivalent of 1.1 million full-time jobs.” They wanted the government to understand their industry and its issues.
So there’s that – the wine industry has friends in Congress. The caucus boasts 145 members, from each of the 50 states and both houses of Congress.
But the really cool thing is that they have receptions with wine tastings featuring wines from a variety of states. And they are highly bipartisan. You read that right – bipartisan.
A couple of months ago the caucus hosted a wine tasting in the Capitol’s Rayburn Building featuring the Sonoma County Winegrowers. The winegrowers told the representatives how their region is doing – the droughts, the floods, the bugs that threaten the vines – and what they would like the representatives to know about that would improve their industry. And the Congresspeople, from both sides of the aisle, not only listened, but importantly, got to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
And get this – when they have these events the representatives go out to dinner together afterward! As they while away this quality time, the talk inevitably turns to policy issues too. Can’t be a bad thing, right?
As one of the Sonoma winegrowers at the event noted: “We laugh that wine is the one thing that brings both sides of Congress together,” she said. “It’s the bipartisan beverage of choice.”
So let’s give a toast to wine, for yet another benefit to society.