So, your favourite celebrity has released a wine. But have they made the wine? We look at five ways that celebrity wines come about.
They actually make it. With their hands. This might mean they built a winery or maybe they used a shared facility. Either way, they’re the ones making the wine. This is probably the rarest approach. It’s romantic, it’s sexy, and it’s slightly crazy. When you hear Maynard James Keenan talk about Caduceus Cellars, there’s no faking that passion.
Examples: P!nk (Two Wolves), Maynard James Keenan (Caduceus Cellars)
It may come as a surprise, but a number of celebrities are quite wealthy. And that sort of financial security can inspire people to start or buy a winery. That doesn’t mean they want to be the winemaker, however. Instead, they put a team in place to realize their vision: whether it’s 100-point wines or to raise money for their charitable foundation. It may be named after the celebrity, or it may not. But these can be serious businesses – not just passion projects – that can be worth major money. Just look at the wine empire that Francis Ford Coppola has built in California.
Examples: Sting (Il Palagio), Francis Ford Coppola, Yao Ming (Yao Family Wines)
A celebrity partners with an existing winery to build a new wine brand. There’s a logic to this approach: it’s efficient and cost-effective. There’s no winery to build or vineyards to purchase. An established winery knows the business of wine and has a route to market; they can start selling wine almost as soon as it’s in bottle. So, the celebrity takes little to no risk and the winery benefits from the celebrity sheen. The role and involvement of the celebrity may vary depending on the project. Miraval, for example, doesn’t mention Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt’s involvement on its label. You may pick it up off the shelf without even realizing its their brand – but those who know know.
Examples: Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt (Miraval)
A lot of wine is sold in bulk. We’re talking about thousands of litres of wine at a time, transported by tankers to its final destination. A winery may have produced more wine than it can sell. Or maybe it needs an immediate cash injection. Or perhaps the wine doesn’t meet their quality expectations. This provides celebrities and others an opportunity to buy a finished wine that just needs to be bottled or have a label applied. So, they can taste through samples until they find the perfect wine – both stylistically and at the right price point – and then focus on sales and marketing.
Some wineries specialize in producing wine for this market. For example, Kaitlyn Bristowe’s Spade & Sparrows 2018 Pinot Noir was produced by Sonoma Bespoke Beverages, which makes private labels for a range of clients. Their 7-Eleven brand was launched in just five months.
Examples: Kaitlyn Bristowe (Spade & Sparrows)
Licensing and Endorsements
In this approach, the celebrity is the furthest removed from the wine itself. Rather, a winery licenses their name or likeness, and uses it for marketing reasons. This is common outside of the wine industry. It’s not like Travis Scott told McDonald’s how to make the Quarter Pounder he promoted. So, why would we expect it to work differently for wine brands? The steep price tag of celebrity endorsements means this approach is generally used only by the largest wine companies.
Examples: Snoop Dogg (19 Crimes Cali Red)
Watch the latest episode of Stirring Up the Lees as we taste three celebrity wines: Miraval’s 2018 Rosé, Spade & Sparrows’ 2018 Pinot Noir, and 19 Crimes’ 2019 Cali Red.
*Note: we’ve provided examples of celebrity wines that we believe fall into each category based on what we can find out about them. The nature of these arrangements aren’t always transparent or obvious.