They've topped the charts, won numerous Grammy awards and sold out thousands of concert venues worldwide. Now, these eight musicians are trading in their guitars and drumsticks to try their hand at wine-making. While it’s not uncommon to see musicians expanding their talents to the big screen, commercials and even restaurants, it’s a little unusual to think that these renowned rappers and rock stars are venturing into the vineyards. They are putting their personal stamp on some surprisingly spectacular wines with direct involvement in their own wineries. The next time you’re in the mood for a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc or a glass of fruity Pinot noir rosé, keep these eight unexpected musician-created wines in mind.
8 Olivia Newton John
Just one sip of Olivia Newton John’s Koala Blue will leave you hopelessly devoted to her Australian wine brand. Limestone coast vineyards are the producers of the grapes used in Koala Blue wines, which boast a 100-percent Aussie flavor bursting with fruity, clean notes. Olivia by Olivia is the brand’s signature series, a collaboration with her business associate Pat Farrar and Snowdon Wines, which includes a red 2000 cabernet sauvignon and a white 2001 Padthaway chardonnay. There is also a Koala Blue chardonnay and Koala Blue Shiraz.
7 Dave Matthews
Bring together an award-winning Sonoma County winemaker, with a Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter and you've got the ingredients for Dreaming Trees Wines. This is a wine company from Dave Matthews, the lead singer of Dave Matthews Band. The trio of wine varieties is everything a Dave Matthews Band fan would expect, “complex yet, approachable…fun wines that are food friendly and available for everyone to enjoy,” as partner and winemaker, Steve Reeder explains. Dreaming Trees Wines portfolio currently features a 2009 North Coast Crush red of merlot and Zinfandel, a 2009 North Coast cabernet sauvignon and a 2010 Central Coast chardonnay. Dreaming Trees Wines are also among the few wines that present environmentally conscious bottling. Each wine is sold in a bottle that is 50-percent lighter than regular bottles and includes 100-percent recycled labels.
If you’re a fan of the pop-rock band Train, you’re probably familiar with their hit, “Save Me, San Francisco”. Although, unless you’re a wine connoisseur, you may not be as familiar with their wine brand by the same name. After lead singer, Pat Monahan expressed his desire to bring a taste of the band’s hometown to the rest of the world, ACME Wine Movers jumped on board to help create Train’s first bottle called, Drops of Jupiter. This original bottle is a California red wine named after the band’s single. From there came: Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co.’s Calling All Angels chardonnay, Soul Sister Pinot noir, Hella Fine merlot and California 37 cabernet sauvignon. A portion of all proceeds from the sales of Train’s Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co. goes toward San Francisco-based Family House, which provides temporary housing to seriously ill children and their families.
For Black Eyed Peas singer Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson and her father Pat, their venture into the world of wine at their Ferguson Crest Winery is a true family affair. Tucked away in Solvang, a beautiful gem within California’s Valley, Ferguson Crest Winery is the culmination of Fergie’s childhood captivation with her father’s green thumb and his passion for producing the very grapes used to make their wines. Together with the expertise of winemaker Joey Tensley, Fergie and Pat have produced six varieties of wines, many of which feature the Santa Ynez Valley’s prized syrah grapes. Among its best sellers are: 2010 Syrah with hints of black pepper, cassis, chocolate and graphite and the winery’s first red wine blend, Fergie’s own 2011 Fergalicious, which marries syrah, ganache, merlot and cabernet sauvignon to create a spicy full-bodied texture.
You’ll be singing the praises of Sting’s wine-making within your first sips of his wine. All made with help from his wife, Trudie at their Il Palagio vineyard in Italy’s Chianti region. Twelve rolling acres surround the singer’s 16th-century villa where the couple works tediously to oversee nearly every aspect of their wine production. This is a process that highlights Sting’s devotion to dynamic organic farming and sustainability. His wines are among some of the most respected, earning high scores from wine critics who rave about his super Tuscan Sister Moon of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and Sangiovese. Sting, a self-proclaimed beer drinker, credits this to his biodynamic approach to wine-making and his collaboration with consultant, Alan York.
3 Vince Neil
Studies have indicated that wine drinkers report a change in taste of up to 60-percent, when different types of melodies and music is played. For instance, studies show that drinkers of cabernet sauvignon were most affected by heavy and powerful tunes. Perhaps Mötley Crüe singer, Vince Neil played into this when he created his line of wines. The line includes: a 2003 Napa cabernet sauvignon and a 2003 Vince Sonoma Valley chardonnay. Neil, who owns Vince Vineyards, decided to venture into vino because of his passion for good wine. His wines are proof that this hard-partying rocker has matured and acquired a more refined taste that receives surprisingly high marks from wine connoisseurs.
Oftentimes, when celebrities take on a new business venture outside their comfort zone, it’s rarely more than a clever marketing scheme. This is certainly not the case with rock band AC/DC’s wine collection. Winestate company owner Peter Jackson, who partnered with the rockers for their wines, even praises the wine and says it is, “quite a very good wine.” Don’t be fooled into thinking their collection is another pretentious collection; AC/DC has stuck to its roots with a set of four wines fittingly named: Highway to Hell cabernet sauvignon, Back in Black shiraz, Hells Bells sauvignon blanc and Thunderstruck chardonnay. A fifth variety, a Moscato named You Shook Me All Night Long, is the band's most recent addition.
1 Lil Jon
As the undeniable king of crunk, rapper Lil Jon is certainly no wine aficionado, as even he admitted in an NBC Today interview, explaining, “I’m not no ‘drink wine every day’ kind of dude.” But he certainly does know what he likes, and that’s dessert wines and white wines. The rhymer seems to have acquired a more mature taste, collaborating with winemaker, Alison Crowe in 2008 to establish his own wine label called, Little Jonathan. The Little Johnathan Winery offers a variety of selections, including merlot and chardonnay, all of which Lil Jon has played a key role in making. The decision to step away from his stage name and return to his given name, Jonathan Smith was an intentional approach to presenting his wines with a more legitimate, swanky branding.