Nothing goes better with Santa Maria Style Barbecue than Santa Maria Valley wines, three of which were featured at two U.S. Department of State events this month in Washington D.C.
The J. Wilkes 2012 Chardonnay (92 points Wine Enthusiast) was served at the U.S. Caribbean-Central American Energy Summit on May 4. The event was hosted by Vice President Joe Biden. Then, on May 13, J. Wilkes Winemaker Wes Hagen and J. Wilkes East Coast Brand Sales Manager Michael Phillips were invited to pour their 2014 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Blanc and 2012 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir at a luncheon hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry in honor of Nordic leaders from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Norway.
These opportunities came about through a conversation that Hagen happened to have during an East Coast sales trip. “I was pouring at a tasting event and had no idea that I was speaking with Jason L. Larkin, the executive chef and events manager for the Office of the Chief of Protocol for the U.S. Department of State,” Hagen said. Larkin later extended the invitation to the J. Wilkes team and the rest is history. Hagen added what a wonderful time he had at the Washington D.C. luncheon and that he was struck by the friendliness of the ambassadors, prime ministers, lawyers and business people with whom he mixed. In the end he came away with a menu signed by Secretary Kerry that reads, “Wonderful Wines!”
“This menu will be framed and hung in the soon-to-be-opened J. Wilkes Los Olivos tasting room,” Hagen said. “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. 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.”