Care for some National Park vino?

September 26, 2013
Photo courtesy Mark Burns
Photo courtesy Mark Burns

You’re not permitted to drink alcohol in some parts of the National Park Service land. But elsewhere, you can always sip a fine “Yosemite Red Blend” or a “Mesa Verde Chardonnay,” part of the official wine collection of the National Park system.

The promotional tie-in between the nation’s parks and the Sonoma winery that produces the vino is a novelty — though it could become more common, as the Park Service looks to step up its profile (and fundraising) leading up to its centennial in 2016.

Park Service Director Jon Jarvis last year agreed to waive the rules barring collaborations between the National Park Foundation — the fundraising arm of the nation’s parks —  and wine and tobacco companies to create the “National Park Wine Collection” (tagline “Wines with a Cause”). According to a Park Service waiver obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Jeff Ruch, the executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Jarvis signed off on the plan.

And so was born the collaboration with Adler Fels Winery, a wine producer known for its “Kitchen Sink” blends and “Leaping Lizard” label. For the national parks line, $2 per bottle goes to the Park Service , which has netted the foundation just under $25,000 in the first three months, a foundation spokeswoman tells us.

In the request for a waiver, the foundation suggested that if all goes well with this collaboration, it could open the door for other agreements with booze companies. So perhaps we can expect a Redwood Red Ale, or a Hot Springs cold brew?

So, now the really important question: is it any good or is it swill? Alas, we didn’t get the chance to taste the park wines ourselves, though the Web site touts them as being “fruit forward and food friendly, the premier release artisan blends are composed of complementary varietals that build to a complex but accessible crescendo on the palate.”

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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Emily Heil | September 25, 2013