In the current U.S. climate of French-bashing, winemaker Eileen Crane finds herself in the unique position of heading up Domaine Carneros, a joint venture in Napa, California, between France's Champagne Tattinger and New York-based Kobrand Corp. Crane claims to be the world's first woman to have built two large commercial wineries: a $17 million sparkling wine facility and a multimillion-dollar pinot noir operation set to open this summer. In true wine aficionado fashion, Crane, in town for a tasting earlier this month, invokes the universal cultural currency of wine by citing the anonymous quote: "Water separates the people of the world, but wine unites them and makes life divine."
Swell sentiment. But how is this relevant in our current global climate, where the folks on the other side of the divide believe wine is the key to every evil and forbid its consumption--except when in the company of 72 virgins? And what about here? Can that icon of culture, wine, bridge our cultural schisms? To find out, we played a word-association game with Ms. Crane to get her reaction after tasting prodigious amounts of her pinot noir at Jeroboam.