It’s always exciting to hear about a local winery’s success. Santa Barbara County wines are definitely being served in high places.
For the second time this year, Santa Maria Valley’s J.Wilkes wines were selected to be served at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C. Last month Nordic Leaders from five countries enjoyed J. Wilkes wines at a luncheon hosted by Secretary John Kerry and then proceeded to a meeting with President Barack Obama.
State Department Executive Chef Jason Larkin chose the J.Wilkes 2014 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Blanc and the 2012 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir to serve with a Nordic-themed menu, prepared by Larkin and celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, an Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised chef and restaurateur who appears regularly on Top Chef, Chopped and over food-oriented television shows. Guests enjoyed a Spring Salad including pickled shrimp and cured char, followed by a Bourbon Beet-Glazed Salmon.
J. Wilkes winemaker Wes Hagen was there. “Seeing the leaders of the five Nordic countries toasting peace, the environment and friendship with the wines I represent was a humbling moment for me,” he says. “Wine was instrumental in the development of Democracy in the ancient Athenian ‘symposia’, and it is still strongly a positive element in diplomacy and open dialog in a free and democratic world.”
A week before, the J. Wilkes 2012 Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay and 2012 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir were served at a luncheon on the occasion of the U.S.-Caribbean-Central American Energy Summit, hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and attended by Secretary of State John Kerry.
The wines were thoroughly enjoyed, so much so that Chef Larkin was inspired to serve them again, according to the J. Wilkes team.
Hagen says the crew at J. Wilkes is thrilled about this newly established relationship with the U.S. Department of State and Chef Larkin. “Working with Chef Jason Larkin and his team at the State Department to pair three J. Wilkes Wines in two separate events … has been one of the true pleasures of my 22 years in fine wine,” says Hagen. “I have confidence that our wines will continue to be used at State functions, and I also expect interest in J. Wilkes Wines to peak as a result.”