Celebrating Celebrity Vineyards [the Book] (by winespectator.com)

Posted: May 3, 2013 by wynmaker in Celebrities, Vinification, Wine, Winemaking, World wine news
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Meet Natalie Oliveros as a vintner.

Meet Natalie Oliveros as a vintner.

Plus, chef Emeril Lagasse honored for taking charity up a notch, Paris’ Elysée undertakes wine austerity, Napa’s philanthropic 1 percenters, and more

“When they showed up, I just thought they were hard-up for celebrities,” joked Robert Kamen at the April book launch of Celebrity Vineyards at the Bowery Hotel in New York. Kamen protested to Unfiltered that, as a screenwriter—albeit the screenwriter of the Karate Kid series, Taps and A Walk in the Clouds—he just sits in a darkened room writing stuff all day (celebrities: They’re just like Unfiltered!), and pardoned himself to sign a copy of the book “for a minute while I be a celebrity.” But Kamen was a vintner before his fame, purchasing 280 acres on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains in Sonoma with the money from his first screenplay, in the late 1970s. “What can I do with all the money I make as a screenwriter? I bury it in the ground.”

While Kamen’s story goes back further than that of most of the celebrities in the book, all were selected, according to author Nick Wise, because they were “serious about some parts, whether picking the vineyards or the final blends.” Other famous vintners profiled in Celebrity Vineyards: Francis Ford Coppola, chef Charlie Palmer, Dan Aykroyd, Antonio Banderas, Fess Parker, race car drivers Mario Andretti and Randy Lewis, coach Dick Vermeil and Natalie Oliveros, perhaps better known to Unfiltered readers as adult-film phenom Savanna Samson. “They have to bring out the whole ‘Savanna Samson’ thing, but I do make the wine,” Oliveros said. “I was there every month in 2012.” Oliveros is co-owner of Brunello estate La Fiorita with Roberto Cipressi; the 2006 riserva earned a classic 95 points on the Wine Spectator 100-point scale. Wise, who has worked as a wine merchant and entertainment writer, mused that winemaking is an attractive second profession to “a lot of technical people, a lot of golfers and race car drivers. That translates into the technicality that goes into wine—what pH, what tannin level.” As for Kamen, his approach began with slightly less precision: As he tells it, his “dope dealer” in the ’70s dreamed of planting an organic vineyard on North Coast slopes, but no one would bite at the time. Kamen took a chance and was among the first to go organic in the state. His original viticulturist is still on staff.

Read on …

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