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10 best celebrity Wine Line

It’s not uncommon for a celebrity to lend their name to a winemaking endeavor. Some just show up for the tastings and smile for the cameras, while others get down and dirty in the winery, weighing in on everything that goes into each bottle. Regardless of motivation, the desire to make one’s own wine is something most of us can relate to. Here we feature a few celebrities who care more about what’s in the bottle than what’s in a name.

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By Katie Kelly Bell

It’s not uncommon for a celebrity to lend their name to a winemaking endeavor. Some just show up for the tastings and smile for the cameras, while others get down and dirty in the winery, weighing in on everything that goes into each bottle. Regardless of motivation, the desire to make one’s own wine is something most of us can relate to. Here we feature a few celebrities who care more about what’s in the bottle than what’s in a name.

Anta Banderas — Anta Banderas

Antonio Banderas’ winery sits in Spain’s Ribera del Duero region, a region legendary for supple, rich tempranillo-based wines. The winery began operation as Anta Bodegas in 1999 and in June 2009, Banderas became a partner in the endeavor, renaming the winery Anta Banderas. Wine and wine culture have always been vital to Banderas; entering into winemaking was a natural step for the native Spanish actor. Try: 2010 A10 Anta Banderas — This flagship wine is a blend of tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon and merlot and aged for 10 months in French oak barrels.

Emilio Estevez — Casa Dumetz

Estevez is likely the most ambitious celebrity winemaker; he and his fiancée, Sonja Magdevski, literally dug up the front (and back) yard of their Malibu farm and planted pinot noir vines. Several months of hard work and a steep learning curve later yielded 50 cases of wine. Estevez, who has collected wine for years, is now focused on producing affordably elegant wines. The Malibu property is for sale, but no matter, the couple is sourcing most of their fruit from the Santa Ynez Valley. Everything is handcrafted and produced in small lots. Visit the tasting room for pick of the liter or order online. Try: 2012 Sonja’s Suds Sparkling Syrah Rosé — it tastes as fun as it sounds; playful, rich, and spicy.

Ferruccio Ferragamo — Il Borro

The Italian shoe artisan fell hard for his Il Borro Tuscan estate while out hunting in 1985. At the time it still belonged to Duke Amedeo D’Aosta. Ferragamo rented the property for years, ultimately purchasing the estate and the entire surrounding medieval village and Manor house in 1993. Ferrragamo replaced the entire vineyard with vines better suited to the site. Today Ferragamo and his winemaking team craft several wines from the property. Try: 2009 Il Borro, Toscano Rosso — A red blend of primarily merlot and cabernet sauvignon, soft tannins and nice wild spice notes and rich black cherry.

Sam Neill — Two Paddocks

Neill takes more pride in his wine than his celebrity status, which he is quick to dismiss, noting via email,”Let’s be absolutely clear, I am by no measure a ‘celebrity’. I do, however, have a chicken called Meryl Streep, a cow called Gong Li and a pig called Imogen Poots. They are all pretty famous. The real stars here though, are my little vineyards (four of them now), and the wines, Two Paddocks, that come from them are all stellar. I just bask in their glow.” Neill, who personally writes the blog content for his winery website, and his winemaking team crafts deliciously complex, serious pinot noir from New Zealand’s up-and-coming Central Otago region. Try: 2010 Two Paddocks Pinot Noir – The winery’s flagship wine, selected from the best estate grapes, offers layers of rich black cherry, warm spice, rose petal.

Yao Ming — Yao Ming Wine

Yao Ming’s only problem with winemaking is his size. It’s entirely understandable, given his 7’6′ frame, that the retired Houston Rockets basketball player prefers the open space of the vineyard to the tight confines of the cellar. Retirement has kept him busy with various projects, one of which is making wine in Napa. Ming credits Texan steaks for inspiring his wine passion, explaining that, “In Texas, they are famous for their steaks, which are usually paired with great wine. I tried some excellent Napa Valley wines at dinners with teammates and friends, charity events and other get-togethers. This is when my passion for wine first started.” Ming and his winemaker, Tom Hinde, currently collaborate on three wines. Try: 2010 Napa Crest Red Wine — Just released in the fall of 2013, the blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and a little petit verdot make it approachable and a wonderful food wine.

Giovanni Bulgari — Podernuovo a Palazzone

Bulgari might be the name we all associate with watches and fine jewelry, but the young Giovanni Bulgari would just as soon be recognized for his Italian wines. Giovanni is the son of Paolo Bulgari (who is currently Chairman at Bulgari). The Tuscan estate currently produces three red wines: Therra (sangiovese, montepulciano, cabernet sauvignon and merlot), Argirio (cabernet Franc), and Sotirio (sangiovese). Bulgari is intimately involved in every aspect of the winemaking, living at the winery, tending to his five dogs, goats and vineyards. Although technically located in the Chianti region, Bulgari chooses to label his wines independently. “This way I don’t have to adhere to the regulations and can experiment with my wines.”

Sting — Tenuta il Palagio

Sting not only produces wine on his Tuscan hillside estate, Tenuta, he and his wife Trudie also make honey and olive oil — an endeavor that has become so successful they now have a farm shop and sell products directly online. The couple rescued the estate from a significant state of disrepair in 1999 and has spent the past decade rehabilitating the vines and gardens. In the process they have converted the vineyards to biodynamic and sustainable practices. Currently the winery produces three wines (they are only in their second release): Sister Moon (a red blend sangiovese, merlot and cabernet sauvignon), When We Dance (Chianti DOC) and Casino delle Vie (an IGT sangiovese).

Train — Save Me San Francisco

They might be best known for the single, Hey Soul Sister, but the band Train is gaining some traction for their wine label as well. Priced in the value range, their Save Me, San Francisco label consists of three fruit-forward, satisfyingly drinkable wines: petite sirah, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. The wines are made in California’s Livermore Valley and band members collaborate on production and taste before composing final blends, making wines that the band feels are approachable and perfect for everyday sipping. A portion of their proceeds on all three of their Save Me, San Francisco wines is donated to Family House, which provides free housing to families whose seriously ill children are receiving treatment at University of California at San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital.

Marcus Johnson — Flo Wines

Jazz musician, composer and producer Marcus Johnson started FLO Brands (short for For the Love Of), when he saw the changes in the music industry. “I knew I had to redefine things and realized I wasn’t just in music, I was in the therapy business; we make things better for people.” Johnson saw wine as a natural extension of his music, focusing on wine and music pairings. He’s actively involved in every aspect — coming up with flavor profiles and working with the winemaker on the final blend. Johnson also actively promotes his wines at performances, tying the whole experience together. Johnson deliberately set out to craft wines of exceptional values that are people-pleasing and approachable in style.

His 2012 FLO vintages include a red blend of zinfandel, cab and merlot, a Monterey chardonnay, and a California moscato. He plans to expand next year with a special wine club experience that will feature special bottlings paired with music selections. And stay tuned for news on FLOfest, a joint music and wine festival.

Francis Ford Coppola — Coppola Wines

Mr. Coppola made his name as the Oscar-winning filmmaker of The Godfather, but his entry into winemaking, while a departure from the Hollywood scene, has earned him numerous accolades as well. His newest project is the Francis Ford Coppola Reserve series, comprised of small-batch, limited production wines from specific Sonoma appellations. His wine production is eclipsed only by his prolific film production…but that might change soon. At present, Coppola and his winemaking team are crafting roughly 48 wines, and this does not include the Napa winery: Inglenook. Coppola and his wife have spent 40 years restoring this fabled vineyard to its original glory, now the winery is as much a film museum as it is a tasting room. The estate produces five wines in total: zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, a white Rhone blend, and the flagship wine, Rubicon, a red Bordeaux blend of richness and structure.

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