The wines included in the November issue are indeed rare artifacts; they’re the California wines that astonished the world when they won the Paris Tasting of 1976.

The Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, 1973 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon won the top red, while the Chateau Montelena, 1973 Napa Valley Chardonnay won the top white, and they both shocked the wine world because the nine, highly-esteemed judges were all French.

For the story — “101 Objects that Made America” — items were selected from among more than 137 million artifacts, works of art, and specimens in the 19  museums and research centers held by the Smithsonian Institute, Other items chosen for this historic list include Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit, Abraham Lincoln’s top hat, Charles Lindberg’s Spirit of St. Louis, and Lewis and Clark’s compass.

It’s fascinating that the wines  made the cut and that the Paris Tasting was such a defining moment in America’s history. After the French judges deemed two Napa Valley bottlings the victors,  California wine  had become an overnight success — literally.

For those of us who are immersed in our wine culture, it’s nice to see the noble grape take it’s place in American history.

A complete list of the objects can be found at

For wine lovers who double as history buffs — a bottle of the Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as a bottle of the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, are on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

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