Celebrity wine branding is nothing new. Part investment scheme, part status symbol, for some celebs the value is in saying “My wine”—though if you're Mario Batali or Maynard James Keenan from Tool, there's actually a bit of money to be made in the process.
Most celebrity wine is worse than bad—it's boring, too, an unforgivable sin in my book. But fortunately we're living in a sort of golden age right now for entertainers who actually care about wine, and who are getting involved in wine projects that actually don't suck. This is a good thing! Here's five of our favorites.
As mentioned in our interview with Domaine LA owner Jill Bernheimer, the Melrose Avenue wine shop has collaborated with recording artist Jenny Lewis on three different wine releases, in partnership with Broc Cellars and La Clarine Farm. The project launched in 2014 as part of Lewis' The Voyager album promotion, was sold at LA natural wine hub Night + Market (that chicken sandwich, lord), and even included a free download code for the album upon purchase. In 2016 she released a wine in honor of the 10th anniversary of her landmark solo album Rabbit Fur Coat, made in collaboration with Domaine LA and La Clarine Farm winemaker Hank Beckmeyer.
The 30 year anniversary of The Wizard is coming up, Jenny Lewis. Perhaps consider releasing like a “Cuvée Power Glove.”
The Tim & Eric and Master of None actor is an impressive natty wino, as documented on his Instagram, and so a winemaker collabo feels like the natural next step. GQ rather breathlessly pre-declared Wareheim's work with Domaine Chandon winemaker Joel Burt, “The First Celebrity Wine That's Actually Good,” but the duo's Las Jaras Wines will be hotly sought after when the bottles debut.
You might know Jeff Fischer as Jeff Fischer, his eponymous character on the television cartoon series American Dad, or for his extensive commercial resumé of voice over work. But Fischer is also the winemaker at Habit Wine Company of Los Olivos, California, where for the last decade he's built a cult following for his Santa Barbara County wines, including delicious Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc bottlings. Jeff Fischer was thrown into a tractor beam and forced to face the trickery of Emperor Zing; Jeff Fischer just wants to make you tasty wine.
Bay Area rap mogul Earl Stevens—perhaps better known to you as E-40—has telegraphed his interest in wine for decades. To wit, this lyric from his first great single, 1993's “Practice Lookin' Hard“:
“Been fillin' out all kinds of applications to make a grip
But I don't know nothin' about no computer chip
It takes that to make a J-O-B in the 93
But a J-O-B in 93 consists of paper rarely
Jobs like the oil refinery (what'd you rather do man?)
I'd rather work in Napa at the winery”
Charlie Hustle's prediction came true in 2013 when he launched Earl Stevens Selections, a range of three wines, including a mango-Moscato fortified wine clocking in at 18%. Most of the grapes come from the Central Valley, and the wine itself was made by a UC Davis grad known previously for creating Adam Carolla's “Mangria” line of what you technically might call wine. The end result is perhaps not the most natural wine you'll read about on this website, but you know what? Forty Fonzarelli is doing his own thing, and that's okay. The song “Carlos Rossi” is also very good.
Jurassic Park star Sam Neill has been in the wine game since 1993, back when New Zealand was really only known for Sauvignon Blanc, and Central Otago pinot was only barely starting to become a thing. Nearly 25 years later, Neill's Two Paddocks winery owns land across all three valleys in Central Otago, producing multiple annual pinot releases plus a bit of riesling. We can only assume that Neill is guaranteed a guest spot in perpetuity at any and all upcoming Jurassic Wine events.
Jordan Michelman is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Jordan Michelman on Sprudge Wine.
*Headline for this feature co-written by Keenan Dowers.
Jordan Michelman is a co-founder of Sprudge. His writing has appeared in T Magazine, The New York Times, Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, and Willamette Week.