Do you see a connection between making movies and making wine?
Definitely. Both are creative journeys. Both take a long time to come to fruition. Both can be met initially with resistance and then be re-evaluated down the road. Both involve bringing together different elements to create (hopefully) a sublime experience. Both need a visionary to guide the way. Both garner a wide range of criticism. Sometimes both can put you to sleep.
When did you become interested in wine?
My wine education started at the family dinner table of my high school sweetheart. A nice, round Chardonnay was usually on the menu, and I was allowed a glass. I progressed from there, or I should say regressed from there, to some very mundane reds before hitting my stride in the mid-1980s visiting the Napa Valley and wandering through wineries like Beaulieu Vineyard, Rutherford Hill and Chateau Montelena. Not long after, I met Ann Colgin, who introduced me to what are now the cult classics of Napa. I filled my cellar with Colgin, Harlan Estate and the like. This led me to explore my home state of Washington, particularly eastern Washington, where wine production is hitting its stride.
Outside of your own wine projects, are there other styles, regions and producers that interest you right now?
I like to try wines from different parts of the world and areas that I’m not that familiar with: Argentine Malbec, Sicilian Nero d’Avola, German Riesling. But really, I’m most interested in what’s happening in my own backyard, that is, the other wines that are coming out of Washington State. I want to know where they are growing amazing grapes and who is making killer wine. So I drink a lot of wine from Washington.
What do you pour on set? Do any wines help you with the creative process?
Wine tends to blur the creative process for me!
Do you have any favorite movie scenes where wine plays a major part—or at least makes a memorable cameo?
I remember working on Desperate Housewives [when] they came to me to ask if they could use my wine in a scene with Bree and Orson. I said they had to pay me a usage fee. Just kidding! That was some of the best free publicity I could ever have! In fact, I haven’t seen many films where the wine is given enough importance. Maybe Sideways, and they gave Merlot such a bad time that the price per ton dropped so [low] you could get extraordinary Merlot grapes for nothing!