Talk Colorado Wine & Colorado's Wine Country: Celebrities, Sports Heroes Snapping Up Vineyards

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Celebrities, Sports Heroes Snapping Up Vineyards

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported that Sean Penn visited Grand Junction this summer for a few days. If you believe Penn's publicist, it was not to film a movie. We’re going to start the unfounded rumor right here with this MSNBC article that maybe he was in town shopping for something vinous. (Maybe).

According to an article written by Reporter Michelle Kung, celebrities and professional athletes are no longer content to lend their names to perfumes, running shoes and restaurants. They are getting into owning or co-owning wine labels, wineries and wine hotels. Francis Ford Coppola and Fess Parker led the way. Now a whole slew of famous celebs are going boffo for vino (Beat that, Variety!) These vineyards are largely based in California. But why not Colorado? We’ve got a lot of established talent waiting for a little investment. So, famous people, why not bring your star wattage to Palisade?

Under the headline, “Top Celebrity Vineyards: A-list Vintages at Hollywood and Vines,” Kung writes:

“David Beckham knows what's in fashion. For wife Victoria's 34th birthday earlier this year, the British soccer star tapped into the celebrity zeitgeist and bought his 'Posh'-er half the latest in trendy lifestyle accessories: her own vineyard in California's Napa Valley.

“The Beckhams aren't alone in owning a literal piece of the 'Hollywood and Vine.' Thanks to the increased marketing potential of celebrities and their ever-increasing paydays, winemaking has become the chic hobby of choice for the world's rich and famous.

“Whether actually buying a vineyard or simply partnering with a well-known vinter, bold-face names, running the gamut from rock stars (Santana, Bob Dylan, Motley Crue's Vince Neil) to MVP-winning sports heroes (Joe Montana) to Speakers of the House (Nancy Pelosi), have all soiled up and put down grape-stomping roots both in the United States and abroad.”

“Most celebrities run wineries, ‘because they're wine connoisseurs—or think they are,’ says Robert Smiley, director of wine education at the University of California, Davis, management school. ‘Fame brings them wealth and they can afford to invest in it. ... Although I don't think any of them do it purely as an investment.’

“While a select few choose to keep their vintages private (we're looking at you, Sting), most celebrities make their wines available for purchase and keep their estates open for tastings and tours. Unsurprisingly, the public's response has been overwhelmingly positive. According to statistics from Nielsen research, celebrity wines, based on 2007 grocery store sales, are up almost 19 percent from the previous year—a figure that represents almost one percent—or $42 million—of the U.S.'s total wine sales.

“Visitor attendance at celebrity vineyards has been surging as well. The Rubicon Estate, the recently renamed winery bought by director Francis Ford Coppola in 1975, has seen such an increase of visitors that it has been forced to institute a $25 a head parking fee to control the traffic.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

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