Celebrity wineries and vineyards are not a new trend, but the instances of such ventures are on the rise.
As early as the Greek and Roman empires, politicians, military leaders and famous philosophers owned vineyards. In France, the popes of Avignon who led the Roman Catholic religion in the 14th century left us a lasting legacy with the famed wines from the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation.
Although she may not be as powerful as the popes of antiquity, actress Cameron Diaz joined the fray of celebrity winemakers last year, following in the footsteps of retired race-car driver Mario Andretti, film director Francis Ford Coppola, retired U.S. football players Drew Bledsoe and Joe Montana, Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi and scores of musicians such as Boz Scaggs, Dave Matthews and Sting, to name just a few.
The list tops 100 names and it’s growing. Locally, the roster includes Gregg Popovich, longtime head coach of the San Antonio Spurs.
Winemaking is a labor of love and dedication. Being a celebrity, regardless of how bright your star shines today or how bright it once shined, does not guarantee the wines associated with your name will be worth the price consumers are asked to pay.
Different people have different motivations for being associated with the wine industry. Some, such as soccer star David Beckham and actor Johnny Depp, enjoy owning vineyards for their own personal pleasure and sharing that enjoyment with friends.
Others appreciate the potential tax benefits of such ventures; some just like the feeling of facing a challenge. Many hope to cash in on the ever-rising tide of wine sales worldwide — or simply because they can.
Let’s be clear: Having the financial means to buy a vineyard doesn’t grant anyone the ability instantly to acquire the knowledge necessary to make wine. Much less, to make good wine.
Most celebrities are keenly aware of that fact and, regardless of their actual wine knowledge, they usually have the wisdom to associate with professionals who do know what they are doing. Still, having a celebrity’s name on the label (even if it is in small print), is no guarantee the product you’re buying is worth its sticker price (like one I won’t name here, selling what should be $8 bulk-produced wine for $20 because, you know, it’s a celebrity!)
So, “caveat emptor” my friends!
Today, celebrity wines are being produced in most regions of the world, ranging from Napa Valley in the U.S., elsewhere up and down the West Coast, to New York, New Zealand, France, South Africa, Italy and more.
Here’s a celebrity wine I recommend. It originates from “Il Palagio,” the 860-acre biodynamic winery located south of Florence in Tuscany, owned by Sting and his wife, British actress, film director and producer Trudie Styler.
The name of the wine? You guessed it: “Message in a Bottle.”