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George Christy Recalls Sparkling Walter Annenberg Dinner

Society columnist George Christy may have roughly exited the pages of The Hollywood Reporter ten years ago, but his showbiz memory bank remains formidable. He can reach back at any time far beyond the realm of most of today’s red carpet crew.

In his latest Beverly Hills Courier dispatch, Christy connects a recent United Friends of the Children gala honoring Annenberg Foundation chairwoman Wallis Annenberg to a long-ago dinner at the desert home occupied by her parents Walter (pictured) and Ronnie Dunkleman (a.k.a. “Wally”). At the time, Christy was the wine editor for Good Food, an Annenberg publication:

Dining of an evening with Wally and Walter at their duchy in Rancho Mirage with its collection of French Impressionist art, we introduced them to the sparkling wines created by Jamie and Jack Davies of Schramsberg Vineyards in the Napa Valley. Impressed and proud that America was producing wines of high quality, Walter quickly convinced President Nixon that for his upcoming breakthrough visit to China, he must allow ample cases of the Schramsberg sparkling wines as America’s gift to the premier and his country.

Christy goes on to note how the international media went crazy over Nixon’s decision to choose a domestic champagne vintage over something more traditional (read: French). Vive la domestic difference!

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