COLUMNS

A Wine Toast to the Supreme Court

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • June 28, 2005

by Karen Feld

buzz
Much wine-ing in Hume

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby would have been right at home Saturday night at the celebration in the Virginia countryside honoring the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to allow direct shipments of wine from vineyards to consumers. Richly endowed, leggy young women in little black dresses and well-mannered guys in cool jackets raised their glasses in a round of liquid toasts to the Supremes as the sun set over the grapes at the Oasis Winery. The evening of fireworks, fireflies and cocktails was inspired by newlywed vineyard owners Tareq and model-gorgeous Michaele Salahi. A co-sponsor, Dana Spain-Smith, used the occasion to launch the second issue of her new magazine, DC Style. Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain of the band Journey performed a rockster version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before launching into some of their famous tunes from the ’70s and ’80s. Cleverly, Kenny Kahn of Bleu Rock Vineyards in California arranged for several bottles of the Golden State’s wines to be delivered at the peak of the speeches to prove that the new law works. Several guests complained that the skimpy hors d’oeuvres didn’t satisfy their hunger; they grabbed doggie bags filled with biscuits and took a bite, mistaking them for cookies.

Neal Schon of Journey, here holding his Hollywood Star, and Jonathon Cain performed “The Star Spangled Banner” at a celebration honoring the Supreme Court’s decision to allow vineyards to ship wine directly to consumers

Sipping vino and enjoying the country air: NBC News and MSNBC’s chief Washington correspondent Nora O’Donnell; fashion expert Wendy Pepper, who just opened a shop in Middleburg and is enthused about taping Bravo’s “Celebrity Poker” and “Project Runway”; Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation; and several actors dressed as dead presidents from Virginia: Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. Noticeably absent were members of Congress, although the hosts offered them preferential treatment. The invitation naively read: “Horse Carriages/Limousine transfers available for Members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. Congress.” Apparently, no takers. Bus service was provided for the hour-and-a-half ride for the non-elected guests.

SO very bad …

The Awesomely Bad Ball hit the mark, but then again, with a moniker like that one, how high could the expectations be? Georgetowner Patti Cumming (this time not flaunting her PR job at Neiman Marcus) and Capitol File magazine’s Jayne Sandman, who doesn’t need much reason to party, concocted a spoof ball Thursday to benefit something called DC’s Forum Theatre and Dance Group. The idea – as the invitation read, “lower the standards, increase the fun” – was to be poles apart from the typical dress-for-society charity ball. They succeeded, and it was a study in contrived bad taste. High above the mismatched tablecloths swayed balloons of ugly cactuses, a garish jester and other awful airborne stuff on a string. Four tacky pink flamingoes ungraced the buffet table. Bare ceiling pipes and wires were left au naturel at the unused venue, the former Staples store on M Street in Georgetown. At the last minute after invitations were already distributed, the locale was abruptly moved from Cady’s Alley.

Like gaudy? Lift a white-gloved hand

Cumming, who ironically toils in fashion PR, wore something too unfashionable to detail, and Sandman, in pigtails and a bluish bib-like thing, bare legs and spiky heels, made a not-so-majestic entrance into the dimly lit dinner of 200 or so atop an abandoned wheeled self-stocking ladder. “The lighting people wanted $3,500. We said ‘Forget it,’ ” Cumming explained. “So, if you can’t find your table, our volunteers have flashlights.” Guest Peter Abrahams, publisher of the forthcoming DC magazine, one of Modern Luxury’s national line of posh city mags, chuckled at the irony. And was that Andrew Blecher, PR flack for Saks Fifth Avenue (or was it Joel Grey’s “Cabaret” impersonator)? What a blast, ladies! B-a-a-a-a-d is in. Or is this just summer in the city?

Still partying …

Those who hadn’t partied enough spilled over to Smith Point – a favorite Georgetown hangout of the Bush twins – for the Capitol File Summer Party, hosted by Editor in Chief Kate Gibbs and Executive Editor Anne Schroeder. Winston Lord, Michael Saylor, John Mason, Jeff Kimbell, Ray Regan and their young, hip and preppy following enjoyed crab cakes, tuna tartare, dancing and cocktails late into the night thanks to Bo Blair and Tripp Donnelly of Vineyard Vines. Some buzzed that it was an occasion to party since Jason Binn settled his lawsuit with Boston Magazine, conceding that his Niche Media had used names from rival Boston magazine’s advertiser data base. He plans to launch Boston Common – Capitol File’s counterpart – in September. And Capitol File followers will continue partying tomorrow evening at the Colombian Embassy. One apparent outcome of the local magazine wars is the competition to throw bigger and better regularly sponsored parties – not only pre-launch, but to announce each issue as well. It certainly draws attention to the magazine’s name, even if it doesn’t have an impact on increasing advertising.

Mama knows tomato sauce

One reader was shopping at Whole Foods recently when she heard a woman’s voice saying: “No, don’t buy the Paul Newman pasta sauce. It’s too expensive. Get the generic brand.” The shopper turned around and was surprised to see Virginia Williams and her son, the D.C. Mayor. She was only being practical. Last night, the jovial Mrs. Williams, or “Nana,” as she’s called, celebrated her 79th birthday at Cafe Milano.

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