Liberty in a wine glass

By Kimberly Dean
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

A while back, David Kelly, president of the Colorado Springs Chapter of the group Liberty on the Rocks invited me to a wine tasting. Unfortunately, since I am based out of Denver it wasn’t possible at the time. That’s when he put me in touch with Amanda Teresi, co-founder of the LOTR nationally and president of the Denver chapter who apparently organized this particular event just for me. I was flattered. You see, they usually like to discuss politics over a few beers, “tavern-style politics in the tradition of the founding fathers,” but that doesn't mean they don't also like to drink wine, which is my preference.

Ken Wyble, recent Libertarian candidate for lieutenant governor, holds an unopened bottle at Water 2 Wine.
Photo by Kimberly Dean/The Colorado Statesman
Matt Kibbe, economist and speaker at the event
Photo by Kimberly Dean/The Colorado Statesman
Wine enthusiasts having a girls’ night out and talking politics.
Photo by Kimberly Dean/The Colorado Statesman

The event was held at Water 2 Wine in Centennial, which is a wine store that produces its own wine on-site and allows customers to purchase wine with their own custom labels. The selection of wines was extremely comprehensive, with varietals from all over the world. Luckily I had plenty of time to make a choice since the main speaker, Senator Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, was running a bit late.

We sat at a table near the bar and out of the way of the regulars. A gentleman introduced to us only as “Adam” joined us and started to chat about politics. Since we had some time before the speakers arrived, I quickly became aware of the passion behind the belief system of those who frequent these events. Liberty on the Rocks is a non-profit “grassroots freedom movement.” Though each chapter has its own flavor, so to speak, the common thread tends to be “individual rights, free markets and limited government,” according to Jeff Sacco, president of LOTR-Red Rocks.

Jeff, by far my favorite person of the evening, did some research on the wine before the event. He brought a list with him of what he would like to try. His tastes tend toward red wines with tannins, so he sampled zinfandel, pinot noir, cabernet, brunello and a petit verdo. He liked what he tasted and said he plans to visit again. Sacco said his chapter of LOTR consists mainly of fiscal conservatives, and he likes to have speakers from all walks of life in order to introduce different perspectives and an open dialogue. If you are going to try different wines, you should be open to different opinions, as it may help turn your head.

Attendee Adam and my fiancé were soon debating taxes and the banking systems of the U.S. and the U.K. Gavin is from England, and not political at all, though he humors me when it comes to my “poli-wine” gig. After a while, an attentive bartender came over to ask what we were drinking, and I ordered a Riesling, of course. It was from their Estate Series wine selection, a Washington Columbia Valley Riesling, which I was told was the driest of them all. I was handed the taste of wine and enjoyed it, wishing I had just ordered a full glass, since there was so much action going on around me that I didn’t want to get up and fight the crowd at the bar for another. Having never been to an event like this, I thought I should keep my wits about me.

There were three speakers that evening. The first was Amy Oliver from Mothers Against Debt who spoke about the economic crisis and how it will affect the future of today’s youth. “The new energy economy really isn't working,” she commented. Oliver also said that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had recently been touted, “The most powerful woman in the world,” but that Condoleezza Rice might have something to say about that. In her house, Oliver said her kids know that she herself, in fact, is the most powerful woman. Oliver believes that “Government spending is not a family value.”

Amanda Teresi emceed the event. Before introducing Senator Mitchell she said that she is not a mother yet, but as a future mother, is “Effing M.A.D.,” using the acronym of that organization for emphasis. I thought it was pretty impressive that someone so young was so involved in politics at the grassroots level and so passionate about her beliefs that she created this non-profit for like-minded individuals.

Next up, the Senator re-iterated the feelings of Oliver regarding Pelosi and said of Pelosi’s tactics, “I'll see your gender politics and raise you.” Further making a point about the November elections, the charismatic Mitchell said, “Election Day is when the fight starts, not when it’s over.” Though Election Day is indeed over, he feels that there is much to do to keep up the momentum of the cause. Mitchell seemed to captivate the crowd, but when he stopped in the middle of his speech to ask if everyone agreed with him that a member of the audience looked just like Reese Witherspoon, we all heard crickets. I don't know, maybe it was the wine, but I thought it was funny.

A very nice young couple sat with us in between speakers, Jenny and Doug Gogel from Kansas. Apparently Doug makes his own beer at home, a pretty common occurrence here in Colorado. He raised his wine glass when David Kelly welcomed everyone and made a “Toast to Liberty!” The idea of making your own wine seems to be a relatively new fad with the arrival of Water 2 Wine. I asked them who they thought the majority of the audience was in the room that particular evening, and was told it was about half Republican and half Libertarian. Jenny said that many people in the room attend so they can become “activists in the fight for free markets or even have political aspirations themselves.” I asked how she has become an activist, and she said it was by coming to events like this and spreading their message of freedom.

Matt Kibbe, CEO of FreedomWorks, economist and public policy expert, was the final speaker of the evening and went a little easier on the politicians. His view was that “You’re never going to change the culture in Washington. We just need to elect the right officials.” Kibbe went on to talk about the people who disagree with his general position on the economy. “They don’t get us because they don’t get freedom,” Kibbe said. He seemed to agree with Mitchell on holding politicians accountable, though. He added, “You need to remind them while they’re there (in office) to make the right decision in the first place.”

Before she left, Jenny Gogel gave me a copy of “The Economics of Freedom – What Your Professors Won’t Tell You” by Frederic Bastiat. Many people in the room seemed to have a copy, and she thought I should have one, as well. As an open-minded person, I look forward to the read, and to going back to Water 2 Wine to try other wines on the menu. Gavin and I have tried the Stag’s Leap from Napa at the other Water 2 Wine location in Greenwood Village, and plan on making our own batch of it with our own labels (photos of our dogs) to give as gifts for the holidays. So drink wine and be merry. Until next time...