Illustration by Kathryn Rathke.
We don’t usually think of wine and the US military as going hand in hand (I doubt many of our guys are pouring themselves glasses of Napa Cabernet while on duty in Afghanistan), but there are actually a quite a few top-notch winemakers who also served in one of the branches of the armed forces. Why not buy one of the wines they’ve made and lift a toast to them—and everyone else who’s a veteran this week?
2011 Hogue Columbia Valley Riesling ($10)
Hogue’s white winemaker Jim Mills served in both the US Army and in the National Guard. Tree fruit flavors—apricot and peach—plus a modest amount of sweetness make this easy-drinking white ideal for aperitifs.
2011 Dunham Cellars Three Legged Red ($19)
Washington State winemaker Eric Dunham spent four years in the US Navy before returning home to Walla Walla to start his eponymous winery; he’s now producing some of the best reds in the area. This juicy Cabernet blend is named for his dog, Port, whom Dunham rescued from a pit bull attack when Port was a stray puppy.
2008 Mercer Estates Cabernet Sauvignon ($23)
Classically structured and cassis-scented, this Cabernet comes from a winery founded only a few years ago, though the Mercer family has been growing grapes in Eastern Washington since 1972. Co-owner Rob Mercer served as a captain in the Marine Corps first in the ’90s and later in Iraq (he served his second tour starting in 2007, right when the winery was getting underway).
2008 Elyse Winery C’est Si Bon ($28)
This robust, spicy blend of Rhône grape varieties—Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, and others—comes from a vineyard in the Sierra Foothills that Elyse winemaker/owner (and Vietnam vet) Ray Coursen has been working with for several years now.
2009 Charles Krug Winery Peter Mondavi Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($27)
Charles Krug is helmed by Peter Mondavi, of the famed Mondavi wine family. At 97, he’s still president and CEO of the winery; he also served in the US Army during World War II. The ’09 bottling of the winery’s mainstay Cabernet is classic Napa Valley: dark, lush fruit and supple tannins, a rich red that’s ideal for the arrival of colder weather.