Joy Sterling, of Iron Horse Vineyards, was recently honored to be an invited guest of the official launch of the State Department’s Culinary Diplomacy Initiative. Announced by Ambassador Capricia Marshall, the U.S. Chief of Protocol from Washington D.C., this event was for the presentation of an American Chefs Corps, intended to elevate food, wine, and hospitality to the highest levels of American diplomacy… The premise being that some of the toughest negotiations take place at the dining table.

The 2012 class of State Chefs includes: Tony Matuano, Rick Bayless, Mourad Lahlou, White House Chefs Cris Comerford and Sam Kass, and State Department Chef Jason Larkin. These chefs have all agreed to serve as resources to the State Department, incorporating their talent into U.S. diplomatic efforts.

Iron Horse 2007 Classic Vintage Brut (dry, and crisp) and 2008 Wedding Cuvee (a delightful pink bubbly) were poured at a stellar reception in The Benjamin Franklin Room. Everyone enjoyed a delicious array of food, which included heirloom bean and bacon tostadas created by Mary Sue Milikin, and a sea to table sourced seafood plate prepared by Amanda Freitag, for example.

According to Joy: “The creation of the Chefs Corps formalizes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s concept of food and wine as diplomatic tools. The food was delicious and beautifully presented. Everyone in the building seemed fully engaged in the program. On my way down from the 8th floor, the elevator operator asked me how it went and when I told her I thought it was brilliant, she said, ‘Why yes. Of course. Who doesn’t love food?’

“I had the opportunity to speak with Ambassador Marshall and mentioned the concept of following up with a Vintners’ Corps, which she very diplomatically said was a ‘great idea’, so I have high hopes.”

I’ll be following Joy on this one… She’s got her fingers in some very important, diplomatic pies…


  • 2004 Iron Horse Green Valley of Russian River Chinese Cuvée... I just got to taste this delectable bubbly, and it had me dancing for Joy as I tasted it.
    • More history on China relations: Year of the Dragon Chinese Cuveé was met favorably when it was first presented to Mayor Ed Lee (who went to Bowdoin College when my Jose was there, too, Jose always remembers with each new story that involves Ed Lee…). Bubbles for the Dragon ~ Iron Horse went off to China to CelebrateIron Horse Vineyards shipped 880 cases of its Year of the Dragon Chinese Cuveé to Beijing, on January 10, 2012. It was specifically created to celebrate this year’s Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dragon.
  • Iron Horse was the official bubbly for the Golden Gate’s 75th Anniversary Celebrations. Joy said, “I was asked if we’d like to be the exclusive wine, and I said that just being the sparkling wine was all we needed. Why not let others share in that excitement?”
  • Iron Horse Ocean Reserve ~ Joy Sterling: “The Ocean is the source of food, rain, oxygen and beauty. But today, pollution, overfishing and climate change have placed the ocean in crisis. Here is a sip of hope. Iron Horse Vineyards is partnering with National Geographic to help restore the ocean to health. Continuing our commitment, every bottle purchased Iron Horse will donate $4 to establish marine protection areas and reduce overfishing around the world.”



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