I’m always a little leery when it comes to buying a product with a celebrity’s name on it. Any time I see a product featuring the name or photo of a celebrity I tend to think A.) How much does this celebrity really know about this product? (C’mon, Mr. T. Really?) And B.) Why does the product need to have a celebrity’s name to begin with? Is it not good enough to sell on its own merit? This thinking holds especially true for wine. I have such a high regard for the vintners who have spent years educating and training themselves on the art of wine making. It’s not something that you can decide to do on a whim – you have to have a vast knowledge and true appreciation for it.
So, rewind to about 3 weeks ago at the Murphy’s Summer Fest wine sale when I was introduced to The Dreaming Tree Cabernet, a wine made by Steve Reeder and his friend Dave Matthews (yes, that Dave Matthews). Dreaming Tree had the usual red flags described above – a famous person’s name found clearly on the label with lyrics from the song printed on the cork. Were they depending solely on the fan base to rake in a profit? Or would it be good enough to stand on its own? Well, being that I am a pretty big fan, it did lure me into an initial tasting. And believe it or not, I found it very well made. As it turns out, Dave Matthews seems to know a thing or two about wine. Along with the Dreaming Tree label, Dave also owns BlenheimVineyard just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. The sustainable vineyard produces Chardonnay, Viognier, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and several blends. Although I haven’t tried any of the Blenheim wines myself, the Dreaming Tree Cab wound up being my favorite wine tasted during the event. And yes, I did make a purchase.
After drinking The Dreaming Tree Cab, I got to thinking about other celebrities out there who are producing wine, which, in turn led to a string of random google searches. Of course there are the obvious celebrities that most know about (Coppola, Andretti, etc.) however, I was interested in the ones that made me do a double take. Here’s a list of just a few unlikely celebs that I found to be running their own wine labels:
When I think of NASCAR, I usually picture a pyramid of PBR cans and chewing tobacco, but it seems that Jeff Gordon is showing that there’s also a classy side. The Jeff Gordon Collection started back in 2005 and features Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and a few others. These wines have also been bringing home the awards – can I get a “Shake n’ Bake”?
Candace Cameron-Bure – Bure Family Wines
Little DJ Tanner is all grown up! She’s married with three kids and a wine label to boot! Russian hockey player husband Valeri Bure started Bure Family Wines and Candace has been along for the ride. The label features small lot, hand crafted wines with grapes sourced primarily from vineyards around Sonoma and Napa Counties. Getting rave reviews from the critics, the wines are available in limited number of restaurants around California and through the Bure Family Wine website. Uncle Jesse would be so proud!
Lil Jon – Little Jonathan Winery
Yes. I am as surprised as you to learn that Atlanta’s own Lil Jon owns a wine label. Launched in 2008, Lil Jon even won an award for his Chardonnay at the 2009 Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competition (as reported on ballerstatus.com). Even though it was perceived well by the critics, I’m wondering if the wine label is still operational since the company’s website seems to be nothing more than a blank page. If this is true then I will be sincerely disappointed since I’m sincerely intrigued by this one. If not, I guess my second best option is to enjoy my wine from a pimp cup.
If you’ve tried any of the celebrity wines mentioned above or have a favorite not listed then please let me know! I would love to hear your thoughts. The Dreaming Tree Cab will be featured on the upcoming July edition of the ATL Vino Wine List so stay tuned for my tasting notes.