DeLille Cellars wine served at Clinton fundraiser
by Jeff Switzer
There wasn't any '93 left, the winemaker said the '94 wasn't ready yet, and the president was waiting.
Jay Soloff, partner and marketing man for DeLille Cellars in Woodinville, made an executive decision for the country's chief executive: The winery's very first vintage, from 1992, would be dug out of its wine library for this very special occasion. Priced at $48 a bottle, five cases of Chaleur Estate, a Bordeaux-style blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc, went to the Columbia Tower Club where a $10,000-per-couple fundraiser for President Clinton was being held.
To hear some people tell it, the president asked for it by name.
"What really happened was the Washington State Democratic Campaign Committee called the Washington Wine Commission asking if they could recommend a 'very good red wine from Washington State,'" Soloff said. "The wine commission called us and asked us if we were interested, and did we have any available."
Soloff called Chris Upchurch, DeLille's winemaker, and asked him about sending out cases of their 1994, which won't be released for six more weeks. Upchurch said company policy prevented them from sending the wine out before its time.
"Chris reminded me, 'no tastings,' unless it's ready to go," said Soloff. "Sure it's for the President of the United States, but no on the new ones."
The library of the 1993 vintage was looking thin, and Soloff noticed the 1992 library was double what was left of the '93. This was the vintage that in 1993 won the prestigious Certificate of Excellence from England's Institute of Masters of Wine, the only wine in the state to receive the honor.
Soloff called Marie Hardie at the Wine Commission to let them know the price of the available wine: $48 per bottle.
"Marie called the campaign people back. Within 10 minutes we had an answer. We're extremely proud, absolutely honored, and very happy we could find the wine to part with," said Soloff of the library vintage, saved for future special occasions. "We seized the opportunity of the moment. The sales we don't need; it's pretty gratifying we didn't have to think about that.
"Presumably, they really liked the wine," added Soloff. "Hopefully they felt they got their money's worth. When the president calls, you really have to think about what's important. The opportune moment: That's what the library is for. We probably couldn't have done much better."