More Red, White … or Blue


In 2017, PRI launched its first podcast, and because we are headquartered near Wine Country, and because no other think tank does wine better than PRI (okay, I may be biased), we made it our tradition to ask each guest for a wine or cocktail recommendation at the end of the podcast.  After the year we’ve had, even wonks need a drink or two. So if you’re looking for a bit of holiday cheer, here’s what our podcast guests recommend:


Reds, by far, were the most popular.  Clark Judge, PRI’s chairman, is a fan of Ojai Vineyard Syrah, discovering the wine after visiting the Ojai Valley.  Columnist Deroy Murdock likes Irony pinot, not only for its taste, but for the name.  Bartlett Cleland, PRI’s senior fellow in Tech & Innovation, likes Stags’ Leap Artemis and Fay cabs.  Sadly, Stags’ Leap was one of the wineries damaged by the northern California fires with several of its outbuildings burning to the ground.  Steve Greenhut, our colleague at the R Street Institute, loves zins.  His recommendations: Oak Ridge, Moss Roxx, M2, and Dobra ZemljaKerry Jackson, PRI’s fellow on California Reform, makes it a point to go to the bottom shelf to pick out the cheapest — but most delicious — wine he can find.  He likes a Thomas Allen cab, which he found for $5.99 at Trader Joe’s.  David Crane, founder and president of Govern for California, enjoys California and Willamette Valley pinots.  PRI senior fellow and gala host Steve Hayward, who once owned a vineyard, lives near Paso Robles and provided his expertise on Paso Robles wines – his favorites, DAOU cab and Denner.  DAOU was also a favorite of political cartoonist Michael Ramirez, especially the 2015 vintage.  Two thumbs up? This means I better run out and get some.


Ben Smithwick, PRI’s director of development, recommended Wente Morning Fog chardonnay.  Wente Vineyards has donated wine for our gala dinners for as long as I can remember.  Dave White, who founded the wine blog and is the author of the book, But First, Champagne, likes Roederer for everyday sparkling wine, but on special occasions, he recommends Krug.  If you want to be in the chic and hip crowd, Dave said that the trendiest sparkling whites these days are pét-nat or pétillant naturel wines (for more on this, listen to the podcast).


Our rosé fans were none other than PRI’s president and CEO Sally Pipes and FOX The Next Revolution host Steve Hilton.  Sally likes Miraval, a Provençal rosé produced by Hollywood A-listers and ex-power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  Steve Hilton likes Domaine de Triennes.  He should know, during his dating years, he took a wine class to impress the ladies.

Wineries and Places to Drink

Some of our guests preferred to mention their favorite wine family or places they like to drink.  Farhad Zabihi, who we interviewed for our podcast on the housing crisis, likes Bedrock Wineries – but if you’re interested, sign up now to get on the wait list – it’s a two-year wait.  BTW, after a year of searching, he finally bought a house.  Dave White, our wine expert, likes Matthiasson Wines, Larkmead Vineyards, and Massican Winery.  These are considered the wines of “New California” a term popularized by wine writer John Bonne (you really must listen to his podcast).  Many legislators we interviewed named their favorite wineries and watering holes in their district.  Assemblyman James Gallagher likes Cordi Winery in Sutter County while Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell likes Joe Jost’s pub and Curley’s Café in Long Beach.  Assemblyman Matt Harper recommends The Winery in Newport Beach


We had some beer fans – especially in Sacramento, where it can get to well over 100 degrees during the summer.  Assemblyman Gallagher likes Sierra Nevada and Feather Falls while Dorothy Rothrock, president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association likes Sierra Nevada, MillerCoors, and Anheuser-Busch. editor John Tamny thinks he’s a philistine when it comes to wine, so he goes back to his old favorite Miller light.


Our cocktail fans begin with economist Steve Moore, who enjoys mimosas with Sunday brunch.  Dr. Beth Haynes of the Benjamin Rush Institute, the medical student equivalent of the Federalist Society, concocts a low-cal drink for us – the skinny margarita (one shot of tequila, one shot of lime, and lots of sparkling water).  PRI economist Wayne Winegarden and Steve Hayward are the sophisticates.  Wayne likes single-malt scotch, while Steve likes Laphroaig and Talisker.

Root Beer?

Root beer???  Yes – it’s a favorite of two our guests: Lance Izumi, senior director of PRI’s Center for Education, and Senator Ted Gaines.  Lance likes the root beer freeze variation, while Senator Gaines is a fan of River City, which is made locally in Sacramento.

And last but not least, the PRI podcast team doesn’t get to mention its favorites, so we’ll add them here.  Our creative director Dana Beigel, who is responsible for our beautiful logo and the behind the scenes work on the podcast, likes cabernet francs.  She says that Trader Joe’s has an inexpensive one called Lazy Bones and she recently had a spectacular sparkling cab franc at the Liholiho Yacht Club in San Francisco. Tim Anaya, my co-host, likes Revolution Winery, which has a wine club and a restaurant, and even better, they are close to PRI’s Sacramento office.  His new favorite is Helwig Winery in Plymouth – he particularly likes their rosés and sparkling rosés.  Finally, for the obvious reasons, I like Kamen’s Writer’s Block cab.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

Scroll to Top