Experiencing my own segue from working in rock n’roll radio to wine country living, I can appreciate how others who have entered the wine business have also evolved from that exciting, high intensity lifestyle into this wine appreciating one.
The opening act:
It appears that Kermit Lynch was the opening act for this rock n’roll segue. Don’t let this “opening act” fool you, though. Lynch’s career is nothing but the most stellar and accomplished. He simply arrived first and foremost, as far as I can tell.
If I’m wrong about any of this history, please advise. I don’t take being edited personally.
I want this blog entry to begin what could be a solid historical perspective of this phenomenon. As with most bloggers, these aren’t billable hours. To my amazement (as a publicist) phone call messages and E-mails weren’t returned… I only send one communication as a blogger who’s looking for more info. I don’t have time to dog anyone, because I have a day job. I just move on. I’m thinking writers do that, too… Heads up.
Kermit Lynch (1972)
California native based in Berkeley, California, Kermit Lynch of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, recorded and released an album in 2006 of his own songs entitled “Quicksand Blues.” This was a collaboration with Boz Scaggs, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and members of Bonnie Raitt’s band.
Wine legend Lynch abandoned his 1960s-era San Francisco Bay Area garage band, moving on to become a wine importer, author, and French winery owner. After meeting Boz Scaggs at a wine dinner in Berkeley and then meeting again at Lynch’s Provence home, the pair teamed up to transform the old garage tapes into “Quicksand Blues.” Meanwhile, Lynch has been in the wine business since 1972, when he opened a retail wine shop and later began importing and distributing nationally. In 1998, Lynch purchased the historic Domaine Les Pallières in Gigondas in partnership with his friends, the Bruniers of Vieux Télégraphe.
Robert Foley (1977)
In the late 1960s, Bob Foley and his friends created a high school band, which still continues to perform at wine events, with Foley on lead vocals and guitar. In 1969, while still in high school, Foley tasted the 1968 Charbono at Napa’s historic Inglenook winery (Guess they didn’t card him back then.) This was the defining moment that led to his becoming a winemaker.
Today, Bob makes his cult Charbono at his Robert Foley Vineyards, on Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain. He also has achieved high acclaim for his Bordeaux-style reds at Napa’s Pride Mountain Vineyards, Switchback Ridge, and Hourglass. They all share his trademarked Foley style: flavors of intensity, aromatic density of finely tuned wines.
Although Foley’s career has led to the Robert Foley Vineyards performance, there were many prior acts worth noting.
In 1977, Foley graduated from UC Davis graduate with degrees in both enology and viticulture. His first job was at Heitz. A year later he moved on as the founding winemaker at Markham Vineyards, a position he held for 15 years. In 1993, Foley became the winemaker at Pride on Spring Mountain, but as of January, 2008, he became their consulting winemaker only. He’s also taken on winemaking duties at Hourglass and Switchback Ridge. Now, with his Robert Foley Vineyards he’s truly pulling a solo.
Olivia Newton-John (1983):
Yes! There’s a woman to “represent!” Koala Blue Winery produces Chardonnay and Shiraz. Koala Blue, founded by Olivia Newton-John and Pat Farrar, captures the unique “flavours and colours” of Australia. Crafted for Olivia and Pat by Great Stone Wines, the building block of Koala Blue wines is the high quality grapes grown in Great Stone Wines’ own Limestone coast vineyards. Their winemakers work side by side with the vineyard managers to ensure that grapes are grown to the highest standard, and each vintage produces quality consistent with the best of the previous vintage.
Doobie Brothers (1984): Bruce Cohn is not only founder and proprietor of B.R. Cohn Winery, but he also managers The Doobie Brothers; two careers, both led with passion. Taking directly from his Website:
Founded by Bruce Cohn in 1984, B.R. Cohn Winery is located in the heart of Sonoma Valley. Bruce Cohn bought the land now known as Olive Hill Estate Vineyards in 1974. The small family operated winery is surrounded by the 90-acre Olive Hill Estate Vineyards, where soils warmed by underground natural hot springs and gentle ocean breezes create a unique microclimate resulting in ideal growing conditions for ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon. B.R. Cohn also produces Merlot, Pinot Noir, SyrCab (a unique blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon), Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Port, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. These award-winning wines have placed B.R. Cohn among the leaders of great California wine producers.
Boz Scaggs (1997)
In 1997, Boz Scaggs and his wife Dominique bought land in the Mayacamas mountain range that divides Napa and Sonoma counties. By 1998, he planted just over two acres of Mourvedre and Grenache, and a small amount of Roussanne, working with Rhone varieties. The grapes are farmed organically, but not with the intention of going through the lengthy process of having the vineyard become certified. His Website as yet doesn’t have any wine vintages on it, but from an earlier article in the San Francisco Chronicle, there’s intent.
Mick Fleetwood (2002)
Like cuts on an LP (okay, CD, but these are all rockers of the 60s and 70s, remember), Mick Fleetwood is crafting a unique riff for each of his cuts on this current CD offering.
Working with established brands/partners in the Santa Barbara area, Mick chose Lucas & Lewellen Vineyard in Buellton, California to produce an interesting 2002 Cuvée: 25 percent Cabernet Franc and 75 percent Merlot grapes (grown in Santa Barbara County). Aged for 30 months in French oak casks and 18 months in the bottle for optimal flavor development and structure, this wine earned the distinction of Mick Fleetwood, Private Cellar 2002 Cuvée.
Looking for a bright crisp wine, Mick Fleetwood also chose to work with Casa Cassara Winery & Vineyard, producing his 2005 Sauvignon Blanc. These grapes were sourced from the eastern Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, California, another Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar 2005 Sauvignon Blanc.
He’s also chosen Winemaker Mike Brown to blend 25 percent Cabernet Franc and 75 percent Merlot grapes from Westerly Vineyards in Santa Ynez for his Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar 1998 Cuvee
Click here for a walk down memory lane with some great Fleetwood Mac!
Jerry Garcia (2005)
Greatful Dead’s late singer Jerry Garcia’s art inspired Clos du Bois winery to launch J. Garcia wines featuring his art on the labels. The initial release included three wines: 2002 Sonoma County Chardonnay, 2000 Sonoma County Merlot, and 2000 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s also a 2001 Zinfandel out there. The Jerry Garcia Website that used to support these wines has been pulled from the Internet; however, the wine is still being offered through on-line retailers. Christopher Sabec, the chief executive of the Jerry Garcia Estate L.L.C., controlled by Mr. Garcia’s heirs, is responsible for expanded the Garcia company into Jerry’s art being displayed on the Clos du Bois wines.
Mötley Crüe (2005)
Not a band that would be considered “wine country” fodder, it’s written that when frontman Vince Neil sang about “Fine, Fine Wine” on his 1993 solo album, he was actually talking about sex. Neil has since released a Napa Cabernet and a Sonoma Chardonnay ($20 each) under the Vince Vineyards label… An interesting segue, n’est pas? don’t look for the Website, because it’s not functioning, however, here’s an image of the label, and off you go! Jerry Shriver of USA Today quotes John Ott of Alder Fels, “We weren’t sure if it was going to be a big deal or a small deal when Vince’s agents approached us, but it’s been fantastic,” says John Ott, president of Adler Fels winery in Santa Rosa, CA, where the wines are made.
No Website yet, Boys and Girls!
Bob Dylan (2002) ~ 1974 Planet Waves album segues into 2002 Planet Waves wine. The wine label was created by Italian brand Fattoria al Terrazze of Le Marche, a wine region on the Adriatic coast of Italy. Like all things with Bob Dylan… hazy and shaded by what is and what it could be, Bob’s signarure appears on the back label of the 2002 Planet Waves Table Red. Today, Le Terrazze is operated by Antonio Terni. Antonio is an avid Dylan fan who’s also former nuclear scientist. Doesn’t it all make perfect sense? Antonio created a first wine dedicated to Dylan, 1997 Visions of J (for Visions of Johanna). By 2002, it all came together to at least get that Dylan signature for the back label.
Yet to be developed into this story… because the weekend is quickly wasting away… from a Syndey Morning Herald Story that I just discovered, originally written by The Telegraph London: “The latest development of this gentrification of the music world is that the rockocracy is moving into wine. Sir Cliff Richard owns a vineyard in Portugal; Mick Hucknall of Simply Red has one in Sicily, where he produces a Nero d’Avola called Il Cantante (“the singer”); Sting has one in Tuscany (he makes a chianti called Il Serrestori, but it is for friends and family only); and Nyetimber in West Sussex, which produces sparkling wine, is owned by the songwriter Andy Hill – who appropriately wrote all the hits for Bucks Fizz.”
Looks like it will continue to flow…