One of the advantages of fame is that you can often leverage your renown into side projects – extending your brand, as it were. If you’re a celebrated actor, singer, athlete, or whatever, your name can be a valuable commodity, applied to almost any enterprise – clothing lines (Reese Witherspoon, Rihanna), perfume (Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams), food products (Jeff Foxworthy, Maria Sharapova), restaurants (too many to mention)….
And then, of course, there’s wine. Wine has a certain glamour to it that draws celebrities of every kind. One of the earliest examples was the legendary Polish pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski, who planted vineyards and made wine in Paso Robles, California, in the late 1910s (though he didn’t put his name on the label.) In the latter 20th century, people like Fess “Davy Crockett” Parker and the TV comedians the Smothers Brothers got into winemaking.
Even Donald Trump, a famous teetotaler, attached his name to a winery – the former Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyards near Charlottesville, Virginia, which he acquired in 2011. (The winery is officially owned not by Trump himself, but by his son Eric.)
To compile a list of at least some of the celebrities who have their own wine labels, 24/7 Tempo consulted articles on the subject in a wide range of wine and general interest publications, including Decanter, Wine Searcher, Wine Enthusiast, Wine.com, Vivino, Los Angeles Magazine, People, and The Wrap.
The degree to which the famous people whose name appears on wine labels are actually involved with the winemaking or winery management varies widely. Some celebrities – for instance, Kyle MacLachlan with his Pursued by Bear winery in Washington state; Fergie with the Ferguson Crest winery she runs with her father in Santa Barbara County; Sam Neill with his Two Paddocks operation in New Zealand – seem to be hands-on participants, at least insofar as their professional schedules permit. (Not one of these operations produces any of the 50 best wines in the world according to the experts.)
In other cases, the bold-face names are primarily investors, and/or function primarily as brand ambassadors or publicity magnets while letting real winemakers do the work.
Some well-known figures who were involved in wine projects for a time seem to have dropped out of the running. You’ll look in vain, for instance, for any current vintages from Boz Scaggs, Drew Barrymore, or Lorraine Bracco. And Angelina Jolie – who was the proprietor with her ex-husband Brad Pitt of Château Miraval in Provence – has just enraged Pitt by saying “Adieu” to her interest in the winery and selling it to a Russian oligarch. (The two were hardly an example of one of the 30 longest-lasting celebrity marriages.)
Whatever the celebrities who do have their own wine labels may or may not know about the vintner’s art, they certainly know a lot about one thing: keeping their names in the public eye.
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