Danica Patrick was 10 when she drove her first go-kart. In 2005, she became the first woman to score a top-five finish at the Indianapolis 500. Three years later, she landed a major-league win at Indy Japan 300.
Patrick purchased Somnium on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley in 2009, naming it the Latin word for dream, because owning a winery was hers. This year, she released the first bottling, a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. Patrick also released a fitness book, Pretty Intense (Avery, 2017), which sums up how this NASCAR favorite races through life.
“I just fell in love with the lifestyle and romance of it all. That’s what drinking wine is all about…”
Pretty Intense. Is that a reference to the fierceness of the workout, or a comment on your personality?
Both! The program stresses how important intensity is when you work out. It is also a play on pretty, implying you can be both pretty and intense.
What inspired your wine brand?
I had this great trip to [Napa] Valley, where I connected with winemaker Aaron Pott. He poured some amazing older wines, and I just fell in love with the lifestyle and romance of it all. That’s what drinking wine is all about: relaxing, conversation and spending time together over amazing food.
How would you describe your wine?
I love wine that flows smoothly, that is bold and feminine, and feels like silk in your mouth. I’m not trying to make the biggest wine in Napa Valley. It’s not about density of tannins and weight of the wine, it’s about beautiful balance and elegance. My wines are also about creating an experience.
What is your hope for Somnium?
I want people to fall in love with Napa Valley the way I did. People have these experiences they will never forget, and the wines they drink become an association with the lifestyle and environment here.
Are there any correlations between racecar driving and winemaking?
There are lots of racecar drivers. We are all a little different in our style and approach. There are also lots of wines in Napa Valley. You have to be yourself and stand for something. For me, it’s a quality product in the bottle and on the track. If you don’t have the right crew chief or pit stops or people building the car, it will fall short in so many other areas. Whether it’s racecar driving or running Somnium, it’s about getting good people.