The 1st Infantry Division has a history of toasting with red wine.
According to an article published in the Bridgehead Sentinel, a publication of the Society of the 1st Infantry Division, the tradition started during World War I. In November 1918, the Division had been pursuing the German army when the 6th Field Artillery stumbled across a wine cellar in a war-ravaged town. Inside, officers discovered multiple cases of Chateaunuef-du-Pape — a red wine they ultimately chose to take with them, leaving their reserve ammunition to make room for the bottles.
The wine was ultimately split between other officers in the division during the Army’s occupation of Germany and only used on special occasions — where it was used in toasts. According to the article, it became known as the 1st Division wine.
In honor of this tradition and the 1st Infantry Division’s 100th birthday, Joseph Richard — who has been in the wine, beer and spirits industry for more than 40 years — has decided to commission a 1st Infantry Division wine all his own.
He served with the Big Red One for about three years in the late 1960s before retiring as a Spec. 5 which is his connection to the 1st Infantry Division.
He spoke to a contact in California, Steve Reynolds, and his friend offered Richard a limited edition Napa red wine — an appellations blend made with wine from all over Napa Valley.
“There is juice from every single area, every growing region — or appellation — in the Napa Valley and there are 16 wine makers involved in this thing. They do it every year,” he said.
The commemorative wine contains wines such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, petit verdot, and cabernet franc.
The 1st Infantry Division wine is a dry red and is largely made up of cabernet sauvignon, though it has other wines mixed in. It’s a non-vinted wine.
It often retails for $75 to $100 per bottle, Richard said.
However, he received 100 cases of the dry red wine, which he’ll sell for $35 a bottle.
“It was a fun project, and the society’s making a little money off of it, and the soldiers who buy it will have a special wine that they can commemorate the 100th anniversary of the division,” Richard said.
He hopes to sell his 1st Infantry Division wine online at https://www.1stdivisionwine.com/. A portion of the price — $5 from the sale of every $35 apiece bottle — goes to the Society of the 1st Infantry Division.