James Beard was known as “the Dean of American cookery,” and the foundation that bears his name has long been both the U.S. culinary industry’s most prominent cheerleader and kingmaker.
It’s something of a surprise, then, that the James Beard Foundation has never collaborated on the production of a wine – until now.
To create Dough Wines, the JBF assembled a panel of chefs—including Lee Anne Wong of Hawaii’s Koko Head Café and Bill Telepan, the culinary director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York—to work with the Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners group and acclaimed winemaker Heidi Bridenhagen of Sonoma County’s MacRostie Winery.
The new label’s first four wines—a North Coast sauvignon blanc, a Sonoma/Monterey chardonnay, an Oregon pinot noir, and a North Coast cabernet sauvignon—were released in October, with 14 more due to become available on the Dough Wines website in December and January.
“Traditional winemaking—call them snooty winemakers or whatever—is all about them and what they want to make,” Bridenhagen says. “This was, ‘Let’s hear from the James Beard Foundation, let’s hear from the chefs, let’s hear from the people who dine at the chefs’ restaurants.’
A lot of the feedback was they wanted a wine that when you take a smell you think it’s luxurious, high-priced, complex, and then, when you take a sip, it’s very well balanced, pairs with food, is accessible and approachable.
The resulting wines are in fact very reasonably priced—between $19 and $22 for the four initial offerings. What’s more, Dough will make an annual donation to the JBF’s Impact programs, which address industry issues such as environmental sustainability, equal representation, and, perhaps most important in light of the pandemic, restaurant recovery.
“Over the last five or six years, we’ve doubled down on what that intersection of pleasure and purpose really is,” says Victoria Jordan Rodriguez, the director of sponsor relations at the James Beard Foundation.
“Bread is the basis of many meals, and Dough Wines can be the basis of meals for many folks. We want to make sure the restaurant industry is going to be open tomorrow.” doughwines.com