Can Brad Pitt and Angie Crack Winemaking? Other Grape Based Success Stories
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have announced they are moving into the wine business and will release their first effort - a Vintage Rose - later this year. The grape industry is a fashionable movie for celebrities nowadays, though some take it more serious than others. It's likely that Brangelina have tasted a nice fruity rose and decided to put their name to it, though some actors and musicians have gone the hold hog and bought entire vineries. In 2007, Nielsen's research of supermarket wine purchases showed sales of celebrity wines were up by 19%. It probably gives the consumer something to impress friends with after popping open the cork, "This one is made by Brad and Angelina, you know."
One actor very much active in both the production and business dealings of wine is French-turned-Russian star Gerard Depardieu, who owns wineries in several countries across the globe and even has his passport (now Russian) listing his occupation as vigneron. Since 2001, Depardieu has put his name to 13 different wines with wine mogul Bernard Magrez, mostly in conjunction with another expert, Michael Rolland. During an interview with Decanter.com, the Green Card actor said, "What I don't like is to publish a ban des vendages on a certain date [before which one is not allowed to harvest], I find that stupid. When you taste and you say "that's ready" I don't know why I need to keep it ripening. Sometimes I find wines that are a little overripe. I like wines to be a bit nervy, that aren't too aggressive."
Oscar nominee Dan Aykroyd entered a partnership with Niagara Cellars - which owns four wineries in the Niagara region - in 2006. The company markets a series of red and white wines under the Ghostbusters star's name. The actor - currently working on the third Ghostbusters movie, which may or may not star Bill Murray - is thought to be deeply interested in the production of his wines.
Simply Red star Mick Hucknall is one of the true success stories of the celebrity wine world. He spends much time in Catania, Sicily, where he produces wines under the label 'II Cantante' or 'The Singer' - see what he did there? The ginger-haired crooner - said to have sold 50 million albums worldwide - began producing wine with the help of Salvo Foti, noted for his expertise in Etna wines and who also makes wines for Sicilian estates Gulfi and Bennati. Hucknall's company is based on the east side of Mount Etna and features a tasting room as well as museum dedicated to vine-growing in the Etna area.
Jurassic Park actor Sam Neill takes care of the celebrity grape growing in the southern hemisphere. He owns 'Two Paddocks,' a family wine producing business that is "entirely dedicated to making great wine." The company was founded in 1993 with five acres of Pinot Noir grapes planted at a vineyard at Gibbston, Central Otago, in the deep south of New Zealand. In 2000, Neill acquired Redbank, a 130 acre small farm nestled between two dramatic rocky escarpments. It has become the company's main vineyard, and is dubbed Headquarters, with most of the staff residing there. It is at Redbank that Neill makes the sweeter Riesling wines.