Calls To Boycott Trump's Wines Haven't Seemed To Hurt Sales
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Some groups are angry with President Trump, and they are acting out by promoting a boycott of Trump wines. But now Trump supporters are doing the reverse, talking up sales. And one supermarket chain says all 10 of its Virginia stores are now sold out. From Charlottesville, Virginia's member station WVTF, Sandy Hausman reports on the battle over bottles.
SANDY HAUSMAN, BYLINE: On a Sunday afternoon, the toney, wood-paneled tasting room of the Trump vineyard is packed with people sipping one of five wines produced here long before President Trump bought the property. Local wine dealer Robert Harllee says it's good stuff.
ROBERT HARLLEE: Trump wines are excellent. The people are the same people that've been making the wine for years, and they do a great job.
HAUSMAN: And sales have grown steadily since the president's son, Eric, took charge. Last year, the winery sold more than 7,800 bottles through state-owned liquor stores, an increase of 107 percent over 2015. Trump wines aren't cheap. A bottle of viognier will set you back 28 bucks, and a Bordeaux-style blend sells for $38.
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HAUSMAN: Business is so good that Eric Trump recently asked federal authorities for permission to hire 23 more guest workers from Mexico to tend the vines. But Trump wine has its detractors. Priscilla Martin is a certified sommelier and wine buyer in Charlottesville. She likes to buy local, but given the president's statements on immigrants, she won't recommend Trump wine to her clients.
PRISCILLA MARTIN: We, as a restaurant industry, especially right now, are trying to stand together to support the people who, you know, run our restaurants.
HAUSMAN: And she's not the only one who's been talking about a boycott. A Charlottesville group, #StopTrumpWine, formed in November. And the San Francisco-based hashtag, #GrabYourWallet put Wegmans supermarkets on its no-buy list for selling the wine.
The subject also came up in passing when a local chapter of the National Organization for Women met in Northern Virginia last month. Not much was said. No vote was taken. But a few days later, The Washington Post left a message for that group's president, Hala Ayala.
HALA AYALA: She's like, well, I hear you plan to boycott Trump wines. I'm thinking to myself, no, what are they talking about? So I didn't return the phone call, but what I did was call our national office.
HAUSMAN: NOW's national president said there was no boycott. Still, the story may have generated a pro-Trump-wine backlash. Within days, Wegmans had sold out of Trump wine at the 10 Virginia stores that offered it, prompting more stories, including this one on Fox News.
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TOM SHILLUE: So what happened? Wegmans refused to cave, and Trump supporters started buying up all the wine. Tweeted one fan, love Wegmans.
HAUSMAN: Wegmans couldn't say, of course, who bought the wine or why, and it carried fewer than 50 bottles here at its Charlottesville store. But at the Market Street Wine Shop nearby, proprietor Robert Harllee says not everyone who asks for the brand is a fan of Donald Trump.
HARLLEE: In Charlottesville, I think more people do it as kind of a lark or a joke or something funny for their friends, and they take it out of state with them. It's all been very good-natured.
HAUSMAN: The Trump vineyard did not respond to a request for an interview to discuss sales or its need for more guest workers from Mexico. Wegmans sent a written reply saying they only consider one thing, customer demand, when deciding what to sell in their stores. For NPR News, I'm Sandy Hausman in Charlottesville, Va.
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