A store in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park sold wine produced by the Trump Winery as recently as September.
The stores are operated by Delaware North Cos., which agrees to pay fees to the National Park Service (NPS) based on the annual revenues of its operations on park property. They sell numerous items for parkgoers, like food and souvenirs.
Mark Leach, who manages the Shenandoah stores for Delaware North, said NPS and park managers had no role in the wine purchase decisions. He said they simply encourage him to buy local products. The Trump winery is located about 30 miles from Shenandoah.
“Primarily, we try to buy from Virginia,” he said. “They ask that we carry regional products as much as possible.”
Leach said he hasn’t bought Trump wine since the summer.
“We sold it throughout much of 2016 and we did a purchase of the rose back in May or June, primarily because the distributor we purchase from had some,” Leach said.
NPS spokesman Jeremy Barnum stressed that it was Delaware North that decided to sell the wine, not the park.
“The National Park Service authorizes concessioners to sell categories of retail goods and products like t-shirts, baseball hats, and in this case wine. However, the NPS does not specify what brands of these products should be sold,” Barnum said.
“The park concessioner has been selling wine from the distributor of this particular winery in Virginia for years.”
The wine at the Shenandoah store was spotted by Bill Snape, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, a conservation group that has fought President Trump's agenda. He saw bottles of rose wine for sale at one of the stores in the park, which is about a two-hour drive from Washington, D.C.
A member of his group had found the wine earlier and sent a photo of it to him, Snape said.
“It absolutely raises conflict of interest concerns,” Snape said.
Trump’s son Eric Trump owns the Trump Winery. The president bought the property in 2011 from Patricia Kluge, who had established it in 1999 as one of the first major wineries in the region.
“I own actually one of the largest wineries in the United States ― it’s in Charlottesville,” President Trump said in August.
Snape said the wine sales show that the Trump administration may be improperly directing business to the first family’s companies.
“To me, the ultimate question was: whose idea was it to sell Trump wine? Did Delaware North just all of the sudden, on its own, decide it wanted to sell Trump wine?” Snape said.
Snape filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the NPS Tuesday, looking for various documents to show whether NPS or the Interior Department had any role in the wine buying process at Shenandoah.
Leach said a desire to stay out of presidential politics was a driving factor in his decision to stop selling the Trump wine.
“We just didn’t want to get involved with that,” he said. “We want to stay out of politics.”