Seven Musical Winemakers + Collectors

These performers experiment not only with verse, but also with wine. Learn how they blend their passions for jingle and juice.


James MurphyJames Murphy

Former LCD Soundsystem Vocalist; producer; DJ; Wine Collector

Wine Enthusiast: Do you see a connection between music and winemaking?

James Murphy: Yes, but not just wine—I’ve always been attracted to authors, filmmakers, chefs—anyone working on their passion play rather than skilled executors of a marketing plan. I was talking about this with a friend recently, that it’s not a coincidence that people in punk bands are also into small wine producers that take risks and aren’t commercially minded. Maybe sulfur is like Auto-Tune.

WE: When did you start getting interested in wine in a serious way?

JM: My epiphany moment was with friends in Paris around 2006 at Pierre Jancou’s bar, Racines. We had Cornelissen’s MunJebel Bianco [a Sicilian, sulfur-free “orange” wine] and, like hearing certain bands for the first time, I realized there was so much more out there.

WE: Any specific wines you’re excited about right now?

JM: I’m more knowledgeable about French wine. I think it’s more manageable than Italian or some others. I’ve been getting into Pineau d’Aunis—I like Poulsard, Trousseau. Arnot-Roberts in Sonoma is doing a Trousseau, and I’m hoping more U.S. winemakers start working with more interesting grapes.

WE: Do you have a desert island bottle?

JM: Probably an older Arbois Poulsard, maybe ’96 or ’98—when it’s right, it’s magic. On a desert island, I’d get a Nebuchadnezzar, dig a hole in the sand to keep it at the right temperature, and drink it with a reed.


FergieFergie

Vocalist, The Black Eyed Peas; co-founder, Ferguson Crest Wines

Wine Enthusiast: Do you see a connection between music and winemaking? 

Fergie: Whether I am writing music or crafting wine, it is very personal and I pour myself into the creation of something that truly represents me. Most importantly, I always want my creative ventures to be a reflection of what I enjoy, and in the case of the winery, be true to what my family loves.

WE: When did you start getting interested in wine in a serious way? 

F: When I was a little girl, my parents would have wine-tasting parties. They would hand out wine descriptions on notecards to guests, and the guests would try and identify the wines as they were poured. From a young age, I understood that wine can have a significant social impact and is a delightful tool to bring people together. 

WE: Any specific wines you’re excited about right now?

F: I am excited about our wines and continuing to grow the Ferguson Crest brand. Building this winery literally from the ground up has been a life-changing experience. I look forward to sharing our wine with friends, family and wine lovers alike and continuing to work alongside my father.

WE: Do you have a desert island bottle?

F: I would go with our white, the Viognier. It’s flavorful, yet refreshing, and perfect for a desert island sunset.


Les ClaypoolLes Claypool

Vocalist and bassist, Primus; owner, Claypool Cellars

Wine Enthusiast: Do you see a connection between music and winemaking?

Les Claypool: The process of creating a bottle of wine is very much like making a record, and the various elements and opinions that go into each process are equally subjective. A winemaker is like a [music] producer. It is all subjective, and each craftsman puts his or her signature on that vintage or recording based not only on their experience and training, but also their personal taste and how they choose to reflect that.

WE: When did you start getting interested in wine in a serious way?

LC: I sort of stumbled into wine. Having lived in the Russian River Valley for close to two decades, I’ve had access to some pretty incredible juice from my neighborhood. Many of my friends are winemakers, coopers, vineyard managers, etc., so these amazing bottles would tend to show up at my BBQs. At one point, myself and a couple pals said, “We spend a lot of money on wine, let’s make our own, it will be cheaper.” That has proven to be one of the most ignorant things that has ever come out of my mouth, because making wine, especially high-quality wine, is extremely expensive.

WE: Any specific wines you’re excited about right now?

LC: I take absolutely no shame in tooting our own horn because I am a huge fan of our winemaking team, [especially] Ross Cobb. It turned out he was a fan, plus he plays some mean dub bass. He and his partner, Katy Wilson, finished up our 2011s and they are amazing, but their first full “crush-to-bottle” vintage—2012—is completely mind-blowing.

WE: Do you have a desert island bottle?

LC: I’m drinking CC Pachyderm 2012. Also, I’d be scouring the island for some goats to milk so I can have some chèvre with that as well. Hopefully, there are some pita crackers in my life vest.


Gerald CasaleGerald Casale

Vocalist, Devo; Proprietor, The 50 by 50

Wine Enthusiast: Do you see a connection between music and winemaking?

Gerald Casale: As a creative person, I don’t see how you could not like wine, because every wine is different. Even the same wine is different every year because it depends on nature and elements that are out of your control. That’s like making music. Every time you play even the same song, it comes out differently, especially live.

WE: When did you start getting interested in wine in a serious way?

GC: In the late ’70s, Devo signed with Warner Bros. Records and we moved to California, where there was a revolution of New Wave chefs who were the equivalent of New Wave music—people like Michael McCarty, Jeremiah Tower, Wolfgang Puck. I started attending winemaker dinners at their restaurants. When Devo was touring, I met fans who had villas and vineyards. They’d say, “Do you want to visit a few wineries?” I was the only one who’d raise my hand. Everyone else went shopping. I fell in love with the whole mystique and lifestyle.

WE: Any specific things you’re excited about?

GC: I’m a Pinot Noir junkie. I love Chambolle-Musigny from Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé—1996 is drinking perfectly right now. Doug Tunnel’s Brick House Pinot Noir Cuvée du Tonnelier from Willamette Valley, Oregon—’07 and ’08 is what I’m drinking now. And I still love super Tuscans.

WE: Do you have a desert island bottle?

GC: It would be the 1998 Krug Clos du Mesnil. A bottle is not enough, so I’d prefer a Jeroboam, a wheelbarrow full of crushed ice and a solar-powered cooler.


G. LoveG. Love

Vocalist, G. Love & Special Sauce; Wine Collector

Wine Enthusiast: Do you see a connection between music and winemaking?

G. Love: With wine, you have to find an inspired place to grow the grapes and pick what kind of grapes to use, and, ultimately, decide what the wine is going to be. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, where I was really stewed in the culture and music of that city. That really affected who I am as a person and the kind of music I make.

WE: When did you start getting interested in wine in a serious way?

GL: My mother is a chef, my uncle was a top chef in D.C., and my grandmom was a chef, so I grew up eating a lot of good food and drinking a lot of good wine as early as I can remember. My sister is in the wine industry. She’s an executive director with Daniel Johnnes, and runs the La Paulée in New York. And my brother-in-law is Spanish, so we get that influence as well.

WE: Any specific wines you’re excited about right now?

GL: I’ve been really into Pinot Noir for many years, but I also love a great Argentinean Malbec and Spanish Tempranillos from Rioja. And the Burgundies, because my sister Jaime is always busting out great ones. Meursault is probably my favorite white, and, for the reds, I like Chambolle-Musigny.

WE: Do you have a desert island bottle?

GL:  I have two: a Lucien [Le Moine] Montrachet and a R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, a great old vintage from the ’60s. That would be pretty insane to take with us, along with a jug of water and some peanut butter. And maybe we could take some foie gras to the island, too.


Geddy LeeGeddy Lee

Bassist, vocalist, Rush; board member on Grapes of Humanity Global Foundation

Wine Enthusiast: Do you see a connection between music and winemaking?

Geddy Lee: Making music and winemaking are really quite different processes but I suppose that, at a point, both are dependent on craftsmanship. In music, after the initial inspiration occurs, the rest of a piece depends on your abilities and experience as a craftsman and this is largely what takes place in order for a winemaker to maximize what has grown in his vineyard.

WE: When did you start getting interested in wine in a serious way?

GL: During the late ’70s and early ’80s, while on tour, we would receive gifts from concert promoters of fine wine. Mostly Bordeaux, as our guitarist Alex Lifeson had a keen interest in wine and had a modest collection. I kept my share of the bottles in a wine fridge for years and then in the late ’80s I decided to do an inventory. I was amazed at what I was tasting and it quickly turned into an obsession.

WE: Any specific styles or producers you are currently excited about?

GL: I’m mostly a fan of Old World wines. In particular, French wines—Burgundy, Rhône, Loire and Champagne. I have become a true geek for Burgundy reds. I did spend some time in New Zealand recently and found some very delicious Pinot Noir being made there.

WE: Do you have a desert island bottle?

GL: Ha… well I’d rather have them in a good restaurant than a desert island. A short dream list would be a 1978 Musigny by Comte de Vogüé, a 1993 Échezeaux by Henri Jayer, a 1990 La Tache by DRC or a 1978 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I could go on but I’d be pretty darn happy with any of them.


Andrea BocelliAndrea Bocelli

Opera singer; co-owner, Bocelli Winery

Wine Enthusiast: Do you see a connection between music and winemaking?

Andrea Bocelli: Music is ultimately an expression of the human heart, and while it’s carefully composed, it’s not rational. Human beings have a visceral response to music, not a calculated one. Winemaking, I think, is also carefully composed, and it, too, creates a very powerful, uncalculated response.

WE: When did you start getting interested in wine in a serious way?

AB: My grandfather, Alcide, began the winery over 100 years ago. When I began traveling the world for my music, I began to taste truly great wines from everywhere. I would return to our farm and talk with my father, Alessandro, about improving our wines, and he would say, “Our wines are the best!” And I would laugh and gently correct him. After he passed away, my brother Alberto and I remade the cellar, planted new vines and became serious about making the very best wines possible.

WE: Any specific things you’re excited about?

AB: I am excited to be able to honor our family winemaking tradition, and my father, in particular. In my career, I have been very blessed, and now I have the opportunity to share a bit of our farm with the rest of the world. It is a beautiful obligation for me.

WE: Do you have a desert island bottle?

AB: My favorite wine would be Terre di Sandro, the Sangiovese made from my father’s old vines. I also enjoy the white wines of Friuli, particularly Chardonnay. So, if the desert island was hot enough, this might have to be my choice.

The Wine + Music Issue

 

Published on June 1, 2014
Topics: Interviews, Pop Culture, Wine and Music



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