White House Menu Mar 21, 1990

Local winemaker, Victor Hugo Roberts, Crafts Wine Served at the Presidential Inaugural Celebration of George H.W. Bush in 1989

A select group of wineries across the nation were selected to pour their wines at the Inauguration of President George H.W. Bush on January 20, 1989. Creston Manor Vineyard and Winery located in the La Panza Mountains near Highway 58, was the only winery selected in San Luis Obispo County. Creston Manor is the first winery in the north county to have their wines served in the White House.

Creston Manor was established in 1980 by Beverly Hills insurance agent Lawrence Rosenbloom and his wife Stephanie with celebrity author Christina Crawford and her husband David Koontz. It was formed with general and limited partners as investors which eventually included Alex Trebek, host of the television program Jeopardy.

Creston Manor Vineyards were the first to be planted on this former cattle ranch of 460 acres at an elevation of 1700 feet in the mountains where gold had first been discovered in San Luis Obispo County. Based on soil and climate the first grape variety to be planted was Sauvignon Blanc. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon were planted soonafter.

Victor Hugo Roberts was hired in 1982 as both the general manager and the first winemaker. He graduated from UC Davis in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Fermentation Science; Roberts worked as an enologist at Italian Swiss Colony Winery in Asti, California and then as assistant winemaker at Brookside Vineyard Co. in Ontario, California, before joining Creston Manor. His wines received acclaim with the first vintage. Roberts’ first vintage of Creston Manor 1982 Sauvignon Blanc won a gold medal. His 1987 San Luis Obispo Chardonnay was selected in a blind tasting by Rod Smith for the San Francisco Chronicle Event over the famous Sterling Vineyard 1987 Napa Valley Chardonnay; Robert’s Chardonnay was described as “a beautifully balanced, tightly structured Chardonnay in the French style” by the famous wine critic for the Los Angeles Times, Robert Lawrence Balzer.

Roberts crafted a wine in honor of newly elected George H.W. Bush to be served as a chilled aperitif at his inauguration in Washington D.C. It was known as the 1988 Presidential Cuvee made with the classic blend of 85% Semillon which had been fermented in stainless steel tanks to enhance and preserve the fruitiness and 15% Sauvignon Blanc which was barrel fermented in French oak barrels for nine months on the yeast lees. California artist James-Paul Brown was commissioned to paint a portrait of George Bush eighteen days before the inauguration. James-Paul completed the painting in time for the image to be printed on the label of this limited release. The painting hung in Barbara Bush’s office in the White House for the next four years. The Presidential Cuvee was priced commercially to sell at $9 per bottle. However, the remaining bottles of Presidential Cuvee were not allowed to be sold to the public in the United States after the inauguration. They were shipped to Japan and enjoyed by many new customers of Creston Manor.

Roberts continued to craft award-winning wines for Creston Manor Vineyard and Winery until 1997 when he decided to start his own Victor Hugo Winery on his ranch in Templeton. He continues to make premium wines and is considered one of the outstanding winemakers in San Luis Obispo County. Link to Victor Hugo Roberts legend.

Creston Manor 1988 Presidential Cuvee

The Presidential portrait of George H.W. Bush by artist James-Paul Brown.

President and Mrs. George H.W. Bush Serve 1987 York Mountain Pinot Noir at State Dinner Honoring the Polish Ambassador.

The Bush administration focused on rebuilding stronger ties with Poland, a chief European ally of the United States. In 1989 after the Round Table Agreement was finalized, the administration moved quickly to encourage democratic reform and assist with economic reforms in Poland. On May 21, 1990, President and Mrs. Bush held a State Dinner at the White House for Polish Prime Minister, Tadeusz Mazowiecki.

The menu lists the Pinot Noir 1987 Reserve that was served in the White House at this state dinner in recognition of the bond between the first Prime Minister of modern Poland in 1919, Ignace Paderewski, and the United States. Paderewski’s fame brought recognition to Paso Robles as a winegrowing region. He also shaped world history as the international spokesman for Polish independence. The menu lists the Pinot Noir 1987 Reserve that was served in the White House at this state dinner in recognition of the bond between the first Prime Minister of modern Poland in 1919, Ignace Paderewski, and the United States. The Pinot Noir was made by winemakers Max and Steve Goldman, owners of York Mountain Winery, located in Templeton. Ninety percent of the grapes were sourced from San Luis Obispo County and ten percent from Santa Barbara County according to an article published in the North County Tribune, a weekly supplement to the Telegram Tribune, on Thursday, May 17, 1990, on page 4.

In 1934 Paderewski’s Zinfandel, made at the York Brothers Winery, won a gold medal at the California State Fair. York Brothers Winery as it was known at the time, was owned by the second of three generations of the York family winemakers. The Winery received accolades in 1934 for making the award-winning wine from grapes grown in the Paso Robles area on Paderewski’s famous San Ignacio Ranch. Paderewski had purchased the 2,000-acre ranch during his convalescence at the Paso Robles Inn in 1914. In 1925 he planted Zinfandel grapevines after consulting with experts at the University of California. The ranch continued to harvest grapes, fruits, and nuts until his death in 1941.

Ignace Jan Paderewski was appointed as the first Prime Minister and foreign minister in 1919 at the end of World War I when the country of Poland was granted freedom. He signed the Treaty of Versailles which restored the sovereignty of Poland and was supported by Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover and the United States.

Paderewski, a world-famous composer and pianist, had toured the world promoting freedom for the Polish people for over three decades before it was granted. He raised millions of dollars to support Poland. During his concert tour in California in 1914, he traveled to Paso Robles to receive healing treatments for his hands in the hot sulfur springs that made Paso Robles famous in the early twentieth century. His hands recovered and he was able to resume his concert tour. He was grateful to everyone he met in Paso Robles and formed a lifelong attachment to the area and his friends; he purchased two ranches, San Ignacio and Saint Helena, where he planted vineyards and orchards in Paso Robles. He is a LEGEND in San Luis Obispo County.

The Wine History Project is looking for historical information on local wines that have been enjoyed by Presidents while in office at the White House or local wines shared with world leaders in other venues. Please share any information you have with us at info@winehistoryproject.org.