Owner makes election prediction based off wine sales

Kathryn Rem

It’s the job of pollsters to predict how voters will cast their ballots.

As each election approaches, millions of dollars are spent on this endeavor, which includes a wealth of complicated methodology. Usually it works, but sometimes the results are embarrassingly inaccurate.

Loren Shanle has a simpler approach.

He sells Republican and Democratic wine at his Rochester, Ill., winery and tallies the sales.

“They’re identical wines,” said Shanle, owner of Walnut Street Winery. The beverage is a pink grapefruit blush, a wine he describes as having “natural fruit flavors, distinct aromas and grape characters, enhanced with a tangy blast of natural pink grapefruit.”

The only difference between the two options is the label. Each bottle sells for $14.99.

Shanle got the idea because, well, this is Springfield, Ill.

“We’re the state capital. Everything is pretty political,” he said.

Shanle’s first brainstorm was to sell a ‘President Barack Obama’ wine. He wanted to call it “Barackoberry.” The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury must approve wine labels, so Shanle had a label with that name made up and sent it off to Washington. It was denied.

“They said Barry was a well-known nickname of (Obama’s) in college, so there was no way they could do that,” Shanle said.

He then decided on the ‘political party’ wines, which he calls GOP (Grapes Only Party) and DEM (Delicious Every Moment). The labels display a cartoon elephant and donkey, respectively.

The party wine sells alongside more than 15 other of Shanle’s wines, which are made at the winery with California fruit. His favorites are his merlot, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, but the best seller is Blackjack, a raspberry pinot noir.

Open since August 2009, Shanle’s winery offers more than reds and whites. There’s a bocce ball league and open play, an open mic night, live music Fridays and Saturdays, blues music Sundays and trivia games on Mondays. (Check out

The building used to be home to L.C. Shanle Insurance.

“I sold a product nobody likes or understands, and now I sell a product that everyone likes and wants more of. It’s fun,” Shanle said.

He also peddles saunas out of the building, which explains the winery’s slogan: “Take in the good, sweat out the bad!”

But lately, he’s been selling a lot of Republican and Democratic wine. Which one is more popular?

“Our sales for GOP are a little more than DEM,” Shanle said.

Food editor Kathryn Rem can be reached at