One of the advantages of fame is that you can often leverage your renown into side projects – extending your brand, as it were. If you’re a celebrated actor, singer, athlete, or whatever, your name can be a valuable commodity, applied to almost any enterprise – clothing lines (Reese Witherspoon, Rihanna), perfume (Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams), food products (Jeff Foxworthy, Maria Sharapova), restaurants (too many to mention)….
And then, of course, there’s wine. Wine has a certain glamour to it that draws celebrities of every kind. One of the earliest examples was the legendary Polish pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski, who planted vineyards and made wine in Paso Robles, California, in the late 1910s (though he didn’t put his name on the label.) In the latter 20th century, people like Fess “Davy Crockett” Parker and the TV comedians the Smothers Brothers got into winemaking.
Even Donald Trump, a famous teetotaler, attached his name to a winery – the former Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyards near Charlottesville, Virginia, which he acquired in 2011. (The winery is officially owned not by Trump himself, but by his son Eric.)
To compile a list of at least some of the celebrities who have their own wine labels, 24/7 Tempo consulted articles on the subject in a wide range of wine and general interest publications, including Decanter, Wine Searcher, Wine Enthusiast, Wine.com, Vivino, Los Angeles Magazine, People, and The Wrap.
The degree to which the famous people whose name appears on wine labels are actually involved with the winemaking or winery management varies widely. Some celebrities – for instance, Kyle MacLachlan with his Pursued by Bear winery in Washington state; Fergie with the Ferguson Crest winery she runs with her father in Santa Barbara County; Sam Neill with his Two Paddocks operation in New Zealand – seem to be hands-on participants, at least insofar as their professional schedules permit. (Not one of these operations produces any of the 50 best wines in the world according to the experts.)
In other cases, the bold-face names are primarily investors, and/or function primarily as brand ambassadors or publicity magnets while letting real winemakers do the work.
Some well-known figures who were involved in wine projects for a time seem to have dropped out of the running. You’ll look in vain, for instance, for any current vintages from Boz Scaggs, Drew Barrymore, or Lorraine Bracco. And Angelina Jolie – who was the proprietor with her ex-husband Brad Pitt of Château Miraval in Provence – has just enraged Pitt by saying “Adieu” to her interest in the winery and selling it to a Russian oligarch. (The two were hardly an example of one of the 30 longest-lasting celebrity marriages.)
Whatever the celebrities who do have their own wine labels may or may not know about the vintner’s art, they certainly know a lot about one thing: keeping their names in the public eye.
> Label: Dan Aykroyd
Canadian-born actor and comedian Aykroyd entered the alcohol business in 2008 with his Crystal Head Vodka, made in Labrador and Newfoundland. More recently, he has partnered with the Lakeview Wine Co. in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, to label a variety of wines produced in the region, including sweet late-harvest ice wines made from cabernet franc and Vidal grapes.
> Label: Anta Banderas
In 2009, Spanish heartthrob Banderas bought a 50% interest in a ten-year-old winery in Spain’s esteemed Ribera del Duero region that was then called Anta Bodegas and renamed it for himself. When he made the deal, he said that he wanted to be involved first-hand in all the production processes.
Mary J. Blige
> Label: Sun Goddess
Multi-Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Blige says that she fell in love with pinot grigio and was told that the best came from Italy’s Friuli region, so she went there and formed an alliance with local winemaker Marco Fantinel. Their specialty is pinot grigio ramato, an unusual copper-hued almost-rosé interpretation of the grape (which is itself pink-skinned).
Jon Bon Jovi
> Label: Hampton Water
Rocker Bon Jovi and his son, Jesse Bongiovi (plus a partner, Ali Thomas), collaborate on a wine project yielding a rosé made in France’s Languedoc region by Gérard Bertrand, a noted vintner there. The label takes its name from Bon Jovi’s quip that in the Hamptons – where he has a home – rosé is the local water.
> Label: Z. Alexander Brown
The Georgia-born country-rock (and sometime electronic dance music) star christened Zachry Alexander Brown had a short run in the spirits business with his Z. Brown Distillery in 2017 and ’18, but has endured longer with his 1916-vintage wine operation, in collaboration with John Killebrew, winemaker at Delicato Family Wines in Napa. The wines include an “Uncaged” line (sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, and a proprietary red) plus a Napa Valley cabernet.
> Label: Canvino
Dashboard Confessional lead singer Carrabba says he grew to love wine after appearing at concerts in the wine country. In late 2020, he announced that he was joining Nightowl Canning as an investor and brand ambassador for the company’s Canvino “Bottle-Quality Wine, in a Can.” The wines, including cabernet, chardonnay, and three others, are made in Lodi, in California’s Central Valley, by Susy Vasquez of Lodi’s Peltier Winery and Vineyards.
Francis Ford Coppola
> Label: Francis Ford Coppola Winery, etc.
Famed director Coppola used some of the profits from “The Godfather” to buy part of the Napa Valley’s historic Inglenook winery in 1975. He went on to launch the Francis Ford Coppola Winery and the nearby Francis Ford Coppola Winery Too! (formerly the Virginia Dare Winery) in Sonoma County – between them making dozens of different wines. In 2021, he sold both operations to Delicato Family Wines (see Zac Brown, above), but remains involved as an equity partner and member of Delicato’s board of directors. He also retains sole ownership of Inglenook and an Oregon winery, Domaine de Broglie.
> Label: Avaline
In 2020, retired actress and businesswoman Cameron Diaz (“There’s Something About Mary,” the “Shrek” franchise), in partnership with fashion and skincare entrepreneur Katherine Power, launched a line of organic, vegan-friendly, supposedly additive-free “clean” wines under the Avaline label. A range of still and sparkling wines, sourced mostly from France’s Languedoc and Provence regions and Catalonia in Spain, has been released. The wine website Vinograpy was unimpressed with the “clean” marketing message, writing that Aveline’s offerings “are actually just commercially produced organic wines that have several more additives than many small-production winemakers would consider using.”
> Label: Ferguson Crest
The former Black-Eyed Peas singer founded this Santa Barbara County winery with her father, Pat Ferguson, in 2006. One of the region’s most respected winemakers, Joey Tensley, makes the mostly RhÃ´ne-style wines – including a blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, and grenache called Fergalicious. Fergie herself has been seen actually working in the vineyards and even stomping grapes in the old traditional fashion.
> Label: Hunt & Ryde
Restaurateur and “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” host Fieri released his first Hunt & Ryde wines in 2016, working with Sonoma County’s Davis Family Vineyards. (The winery is named for his sons, Hunter and Ryder.) He has planted vineyards and instituted organic farming methods on the property. “This isn’t juice that somebody else made that we just put in a bottle and put my name on it, which a lot of people do,” he told GQ. The wines include an old-vine zinfandel and a blend of unspecified grapes called Sixty-Eight White, said by the winery to be “like a ’68 Camaro…bold, polished, and always Best in Class.”
> Label: Forever Young
“Real Housewives of New York City” star Frankel launched her Skinnygirl lifestyle brand in 2009, and it came to include books, apparel, snack foods, and pre-mixed cocktails. She sold the cocktail business to Beam Global Spirits & Wine in 2011, and they added wine to the label. Last year, Frankel got into wine herself with a brand called Forever Young. The catalogue currently includes sauvignon blanc, malbec, cabernet, and a rosé – sourced from Chile, Argentina, California, and Provence, respectively.
> Label: Armand de Brignac (Ace of Spades)
Popularly known as “Ace of Spades,” after its logo, the pricey super-premium champagne brand Armand de Brignac (it retails for as much as $500 a bottle) was bought by billionaire rapper and business mogul Jay-Z in 2014. In 2021, he sold half-interest in the champagne to the French luxury group LVMH – making it a stablemate of Dom Pérignon, Veuve Clicquot, and Krug.
> Label: Pursued by Bear
The “Twin Peaks” star was born in Yakima, Washington, so it’s not surprising that when he decided to get into the wine game, he’d do it in the state’s premium Walla Walla wine region, not far from his birthplace. There, working with winemaker Daniel Wampfler of the region’s Abeja winery, he oversees production of several wines, including Baby Bear Syrah and Blushing Bear Rosé. The winery name is an actor’s in-joke: It’s a reference to the famous and mysterious stage direction given by Shakespeare in “The Winter’s Tale,” in which a character is directed to “Exit, pursued by a bear.”
> Label: LVE (Legend Vineyard Exclusive)
Singer-songwriter Legend teamed up with wine industry heavyweight Jean-Claude Boisset’s Raymond Vineyards in 2015 to launch a line of LVE (Legend Vineyard Exclusive) wines mostly from the Napa Valley – an enterprise Legend has called the fruition of a long-held dream. (Both a still and sparkling rosé are made in France.)
> Label: Skywalker
Inspired by his friend and colleague Francis Ford Coppola’s wine enterprises (see above), Lucas – the writer, producer, and director behind the phenomenally successful “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises – planted his first vineyard in 1991 on his Skywalker Ranch in California’s Marin County. The Skywalker label now offers Marin chardonnay and pinot noir, and Lucas also releases wines from two European properties he owns: Il Convento in Umbria, which he bought in 2007 and whose wines are labeled Viandante del Cielo (literally “wayfarer of the sky” – or “skywalker”), and Château de Margüi in Provence, which he acquired in 2017.
> Label: Maison No. 9
Celebrities love to put their names on rosé, and extravagantly tattooed singer and rapper Post Malone – born Austin Richard Post – is no exception. In fact, a grenache-based rosé from Provence is the only wine currently offered under his Maison No. 9 label (said to be named for his favorite tarot card, the Nine of Swords). “Rosé is for when you want to get a little fancy,” he is quoted as saying on the winery website.
> Label: Blenheim Vineyards and Dreaming Tree Wines
South Africa-born Matthews started his popular Dave Matthews Band in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1991. In 1999, he bought a property in the area called Blenheim Farm, later planting grapes there, designing a winery, and creating labels for the wine that was eventually released. In 2011, he added to his portfolio by inaugurating The Dreaming Tree Wines in California’s Sonoma County, working with Sean McKenzie, winemaker at Simi Winery and Director of Group Winemaking for massive Constellation Brands. (“The Dreaming Tree” is a track from Matthews’s 1998 album “Before These Crowded Streets.”)
> Label: Joyful Heart Wine Company
“This Is Us” star Metz is one of the latest entries into the world of celebrity wine. Last ball, she formed her own California wine label, Joyful Heart. Her business partner and winemaker is Nicole Walsh, owner and winemaker at Ser Winery in Santa Cruz. Their initial release includes a chardonnay-sauvignon blanc blend and two cabernets. Metz is donating 10% of sales to World Central Kitchen, the international crisis feeding operation spearheaded by chef José Andrés.
> Label: Kylie Minogue Wines
Australian singer and actress Minogue (the highest-selling female Aussie recording artist of all time) got into the wine business in 2020, as “creative director” of an eponymous label in collaboration with Benchmark Drinks, a London-based wine and spirits distributor and brand developer. The portfolio includes sauvignon blanc, merlot, and a rosé from various parts of France, as well as a rosé Prosecco from Italy and a sparkling wine from Catalonia. The extent of Minogue’s involvement with the project, beyond being a brand ambassador, is unclear.
> Label: Two Paddocks
The “Jurassic Park” and “Peaky Blinders” star was born in Northern Ireland but moved with his parents to New Zealand when he was 7, and it is in that country’s prime Central Otago wine country that he established his winery in 1993. Neill has been around wine all his life (his father ran a wine business in the town of Dunedin), and Neill says that even when he’s off shooting a movie or TV series, he keeps in constant touch with his winery team. He’s also growing oak trees on the property, from which he hopes to one day make his own wine barrels.
> Label: Château Mirval
Pitt and his then-wife Angelina Jolie bought this estate in Provence in 2008, with winemaking operations – centered around premium rosés – conducted by the famed Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel and California’s Tablas Creek. They were married there in 2014, but several years later went through an acrimonious divorce, complete with a bitter child custody battle. At first, they remained joint owners of the property after their split, apparently with an agreement that neither would cash out – but in late 2021, Jolie sold her share to a subsidiary of the Luxembourg-based Stoli Group, owned by Russian oligarch Yuri Shefler. Pitt, who remains involved with the winery, has sued Jolie over her actions.
> Label: GoGi
Prolific actor Russell (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” the “Fast and Furious” franchise, etc.) dates his interest in wine from bicycle trips he used to take through the wine regions of California, France, and Italy with his wife, Goldie Hawn. He discovered the wines of Santa Barbara County’s Santa Rita Hills while filming Quentin Tarentino’s “Death Proof” (2007) there and later met up with local winery owners Peter and Rebecca Work of Ampelos Cellars. They agreed to work with him to establish a label of his own. On his winery website, Russell describes getting immersed in every stage of the winemaking process, and talks about the joys of blending the final products – mostly a variety of pinot noirs, plus a “Goldie” chardonnay.
> Label: Il Palagio
Musician Sting and his wife, actress-producer Trudie Styler, bought this once-moribund estate in Tuscany, south of Florence, in 1997. Last year he claimed that the Tuscan aristocrat who sold him the property duped him into the purchase by serving him wines from a different region that were much better than Il Palagio’s. Sting says that to get his revenge, he decided to make really good wine there anyway. Neither Sting nor his wife is involved in the day-to-day process, beyond participating in tastings, but he says that he likes the acoustics in the cellar, so goes there to play his guitar and sing. Of course, he joked to The Drinks Business, that might make the wine worse.
> Label: Save Me, San Francisco Wine Company
Members of the San Francisco rock band, led by singer Pat Monahan, formed a partnership with ACME Wine Movers in 2011 to produce wine under the Save Me, San Francisco label (named after a 2009 album by the group). The wines, made in the Livermore Valley by James Foster of Super Premium Wines (which also produces the popular Cupcake wines, among others) are named for Train songs – Calling All Angels Chardonnay, Drops of Jupiter California Red, etc. An unspecified portion of the proceeds goes to Bay Area Family House, a support group for families of children with cancer.
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