Soon after the September 11, 2001, disaster, a Wine Auction was organized in Lake Garda, Italy. The proceeds from this auction would benefit the families of the employees of Windows on the World who had been lost in the disaster. One hundred vintners from two world-renowned wine-growing regions, Napa Valley and Italy, joined together to participate in the commemorative event. Each vintner was asked to donate a magnum of wine for the auction.
When Steve and Linda Sherwin were asked to participate, they immediately agreed and decided that they would like to create a specially designed bottle for the occasion. Steve submitted his design idea to the bottle etcher, and the result was a striking hand-etched and -painted bottle featuring the American Flag with the meaningful words “In God We Trust” and “United We Stand.” The back of the bottle also stated that it was proudly created “in remembrance of those lost September 11, 2001.”
At the auction, the lots were put together, each a pair displaying one American magnum and one Italian magnum. The Sherwin Family Vineyards bottle stood out because of its patriotic beauty, and it was paired with a magnum of 1985 Sassacaia, one of Italy’s finest wines. This lot ended up being one of the top lots in the whole auction.
Steve and Linda were thrilled that the bottle had been so well received and decided that they would like to produce and donate more of the bottles to continue to raise money for the cause. In order to put the design into production, the “label” would have to be approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF, now known as the TTB) in Washington, D.C. When Steve called the Wine Institute, also in Washington, D.C., to ask about the procedure for submitting the bottle, he was told that the government would not approve the image of the American Flag on alcohol or tobacco products. Steve thought about this for a day or two, but he was not ready to give up on the concept. So he called the Wine Institute back to ask what could be done to try to get approval. He was told that the only option was to send a bottle in and see what happened. The Wine Institute even offered to walk the bottle across the street to the BATF office to submit it.
When the bottle was submitted, it was amazingly stamped approved right over the counter! Today, Sherwin Family Vineyards is the only American winery which has the Federal approval to place the image of the American Flag on its wine bottle.
Every year, a limited number of these beautiful Commemorative Etched American Flag bottles are produced, each hand-painted and numbered. Sherwin Family Vineyards continues to donate these bottles to various charitable causes, as well as offering them to customers at the winery.