“Provocative” was a word I heard frequently from John Terlato. I had been invited to Tangley Oaks, the Chicago headquarters of Terlato Wines International (Terlato is Vice-Chairman) for a personal tour and wine pairing luncheon. In attendance were several members of the cast and crew of “Hamilton”, the hit Broadway show that is now a cultural phenomenon, and a handful of media and public relations folk. During this unique experience, I met fascinating people from the theatre world and tasted delicious wines from The Federalist label; soon thereafter, I was fortunate enough to see “Hamilton” on stage in Chicago.


The Federalist and Hamilton

Photo Credit: John Zich

John Terlato used the word “provocative” as he explained how, by enjoying a glass of any of The Federalist wines and by seeing the musical “Hamilton”, one might have a reason to reflect, to be more curious about each. He’s right. Anyone who sips the wines and views the show will develop impressions of each, based on their personal experiences. Following are mine for you to consider…

The Federalist Wines

When “Hamilton” burst on the Broadway scene and immediately became a smash hit, those at Terlato Wines International exercised classic American grit and determination to build a relationship with the producers. The Federalist wines were soon offered at intermission and the rest is history; you can find the wines at all “Hamilton” shows.

You can only guess how thrilled I was to be invited to Tangley Oaks and taste a few of The Federalist wines with the “Hamilton” cast and John Terlato himself.

Upon arrival at the breathtaking mansion, originally built for the Armour family of Chicago meat-packing fame, hors d’oeuvres of spicy citrus shrimp and prosciutto and fig crostini and chilled glasses of bubbly, Nino Franco Rustico Presecco Superiore, Valdobbiadene DOCG were offered to awestruck guests. John Terlato explained the history of Terlato Wines International as we followed him on a fascinating tour of the home, now headquarters to the family business that is a “leading marketer of luxury wines in the United States” and has a “global portfolio of more than 40 world class wine brands”.

The Federalist and Hamilton

Photo Credit: John Zich

Ahhh, lunch. Once we entered the dining room, it was obvious that this mid-day meal would be exceptional. Aptly named “Feast with the Federalist”, each of us found our place cards at the beautifully set table and was treated to a three-course American barbeque expertly created by Terlato Executive Chef Colin Crowley and paired with The Federalist wines. With John Terlato sitting to my right and Jean Godsend Floradin, cast member, to my left, lively conversation flowed about anything and everything…but mostly musical theatre and wine.

The Federalist and Hamilton

Photo Credit: John Zich

Entrées included our choice of smoked baby back pork ribs, smoked beef brisket, and smoked roasted chicken with a variety of sauces. Side selections were corn on the cob, creamy slaw, shaved fennel slaw, roasted potato salad, American potato salad, mac & cheese, and corn bread. And dessert? Cherry or peach pie and mixed berry croustade were offered. Honestly, it doesn’t get more American that this menu…unless you add pours of The Federalist wines.

To honor our Founding Fathers and their love of wine, we created a collection of varietals as big and bold as the men themselves. Thus, The Federalist was born. We began with our flagship Visionary Zinfandel featuring the man who pioneered The Federalist Party, Alexander Hamilton. – Terlato Wines International

Our first wine, 2015 The Federalist Chardonnay from Sonoma County, was full bodied and presented plenty of backbone, not unlike the Statue of Liberty on the label, one that pays homage to the Founding Fathers who fought for our liberty. Luscious citrus flavors, notes of lemon and baking spices, and bright acidity led the well-lit path to a lingering finish. The Federalist Chardonnay was a lovely pairing with each course.

The 2014 The Federalist Bourbon Barrel-Aged Zinfandel was sourced from Mendocino…who doesn’t love wine aged in charred bourbon barrels? No one at our table! With each sip, I discovered a unique nuance that contributed to its texture and flavor. Complex with notes of black pepper, vanilla, raspberries, butterscotch, and baking spice on the nose and palate, this was a true American wine…with legendary Alexander Hamilton (of course!) featured on the label.

Our last wine, the 2015 The Federalist Cabernet Sauvignon from Lodi, reflected characteristics of Alexander Hamilton, pictured on the label. Bold and distinctive, rich and broad, this full-bodied wine exuded intense aromas and flavors of blueberries, blackberries, plums, black cherries, and cinnamon atop a foundation of powerful tannins and food friendly acidity. The finish was just as memorable as Alexander Hamilton’s.

The Federalist and Hamilton

Photo Credit: John Zich

Wines that make you think? Of course. That afternoon, I considered how our Founding Fathers helped propel this country to greatness, how the Terlato family became an American success story in the wine industry, and how amazing a good wine can be, especially when shared with new friends.

“Hamilton”, An American Musical

Two weeks after the memorable luncheon at Tangley Oaks, I was in the audience of “Hamilton”, written by lyrical genius Lin-Manuel Miranda., now in an open run at The Private Bank Theatre in Chicago. I was delighted to see that Jean Godsend Floradin, my table mate at Tangley Oaks, would assume the roles of John Laurens, Hamilton’s close friend, and Philip Hamilton, Hamilton’s son, in the show. As luck would have it, my husband and I had outstanding seats that were close enough to see the spittle and sweat of the actors.

The Federalist and Hamilton
I’m not going to give away details, although I’m guessing you already know how “Hamilton” ends. I didn’t listen to the soundtrack prior to that night – I wanted to be surprised. And I was. The brilliant musical numbers that were, in essence, the whole show, were a combination of riveting hip-hop, rap songs, ballads, and other musical styles that help explain and advance the story. If my high school history teacher had been able to pull this off, I would have learned more about Alexander Hamilton other than he was the author of most of the Federalist papers and was killed by Aaron Burr in a duel (oops, sorry I spoiled the ending). The acting was superb (Jean Godsend Floradin delivered an outstanding performance), the ensemble was on point, and the choreography was second to none.

“Hamilton” delivered. The show propelled me to deeply contemplate the many issues confronting the country today…and more. I’ve embraced not only the style of this musical but have become enthralled with the works of Alexander Hamilton, a compelling subject with a story that could have been forgotten had it not been for Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The Federalist and Hamilton

Photo Credit: John Zich

What’s next? You can find me discovering more about Alexander Hamilton with a glass of The Federalist wine in hand. Both, provocative.

Cheers! ~ Cindy

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1 Comment

  1. Vee Lowe


    What a great article! The luncheon must have been quite delicious paired with the mentioned wines. I’m looking for some of them for the holiday week! And going to see the show…lucky you.

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