How did you get into wine?
It’s just something we grew up with. My parents were always, well, wine enthusiasts, and they took us on wine trips. I went to Burgundy when I was 14 and Bordeaux when I was 16.
Kurt Russell, my stepdad, started making wine a few years back up in the Santa Rita Hills, and he kept telling me and Matt [Bellamy, co-owner of Hudson Bellamy Wines] that we had to get up and blend with them and do a harvest. We ended slogging up there, and that was it. It was too much fun. It was something we enjoyed doing together, just a wonderful pastime and incredible creative experience.
How is working with Peter and Rebecca Work at their Ampelos Cellars?
Winemaking is not something you do to make real money. It’s something you do because you are passionate about it. When you are around people who are even more passionate about it, it rubs off on you. Peter and Rebecca are just hilarious. We have so much fun with them.
Is there anything about winemaking that’s like filmmaking?
I wouldn’t stretch it that far, but I would say that I did have the realization of how creative the process really is. But what’s very different from making movies is that everything in wine is connected to nature. Your grapes can only be as good as your year. That is one of the things that makes it very special and incredibly unique. You are at the mercy of your crop, and I love that. Though, we are telling a story. Every bottle has a story, and when you sit down and drink it, you feel connected to that story.
Your family has become quite the fixture in Los Alamos, California, a tiny little town off U.S. Route 101 that’s exploded in recent years.
It’s a great little town. I love our Wine Saloon. It suits our family. My aunt actually works there. It’s a really great family environment; everybody knows everybody, and everybody supports everybody. It’s a funny little town right off the freeway, but there is something incredibly romantic about it.
How did you decide which wines to make?
We spend most of our summer in Europe with the kids, and rosé is pretty much what we drink. So we started with rosés, and that’s still my favorite. I love Sauvignon Blanc, and everyone told me not to attempt a California-style Sauvignon Blanc. I said, “Why not?”
So we made it. It’s quite drinkable and has this grassiness to it. It’s interesting, so we are going to try that one more time.
And my dad’s Pinots are really beautiful, so we decided to do a single clone. I also love Cab. That’s my jam!
There are reports that you and Matt aren’t together anymore. Will that affect the wine project?
We’re family for the rest of our lives, we have a beautiful baby and we love making wine. We’ll continue doing it.
How did the Farmville charity project happen?
It was good for The Hawn Foundation [which benefits from Hudson Bellamy, along with War Child] and good for the wine.
It was a two-week fun thing we did. My friends know the guys who did it, and they wanted to do a winemaking version. I got to have my own avatar, and I thought that was hilarious.