Last week's White House state dinner featured Virginia wine in two ways – one positive, one … well, not so positive. As I blogged last week, the sparkling wine served with dessert and for the exchange of toasts between President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the Thibaut-Janisson Brut de Chardonnay from the Monticello AVA near Charlottesville. But this sweet kudo for Virginia sparkling wine was quickly overshadowed by the sensational story of the White House gate crashers.
Turns out the couple who traipsed uninvited into the White House that night were Tareq and Michaela Salahi, of Oasis Vineyards in Virginia's Fauquier County. Oasis is one of Virginia's oldest wineries and has specialized in sparkling wine, with mixed success. The winery was founded and is owned by Tareq's parents, who have been embroiled in a nasty public dispute with their son over the disposition of the winery – they wanted to sell it when the debts piled too high. (The winery is now shuttered and not open for business.) And Tareq and Michaela, who definitely qualify for the term “socialites,” have been auditioning for Bravo TV's “Real Housewives of Washington.”
That's enough – I won't go into the details because I start laughing too hard. You can read all about it in The Washington Post, The New York Times and probably any other major media outlet. Let's just say the Salahi story casts an unfortunate light, however indirectly, on the Virginia wine industry – showing a vain and shallow side and stealing the limelight from the very worthy wine served at dinner that night.
Of course, there was another “scandal” about the state dinner, also involving wine. More on that later.
Photo: Tareq and Michaela Salahi with Vice President Joe Biden at the Nov. 24 White House state dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. From the Salahi’s Facebook page. Joe, dear, watch your hands!