Johnny Depp bought longtime girlfriend Vanessa Pradis a winery to celebrate the release of her new CD; Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie live on an estate in Provence, France with acres of grapes. But you won’t see their labels at your local wine shop anytime soon, as these couples make wine as a hobby and don’t have plans (yet) to go into business. If you’re interested in actually purchasing wine that’s been handled by some of TV and film’s biggest stars, here are some celebs who enjoy wine so much that it has become more than a casual hobby …
Sam Neill is well-known for playing Dr. Alan Grant in the sci-fi adventure Jurassic Park, as well as a number of other high-profile roles in films including Omen III: The Final Conflict, The Hunt for Red October, and The Piano. Neill, who developed an “intense and rather expensive” interest in Pinot Noir and Burgundy while living in London for fifteen years, founded Two Paddocks in 1993. Comprised of three small vineyards in Central Otago, New Zealand, Two Paddocks specializes in Pinot Noir because “I regard Pinot Noir the greatest of all grapes,” Neill told VINE TALK. “And we are a decidedly cool climate which in part accounts for why we grow pinot so wonderfully.” As the proprietor and chief taster of Two Paddocks, he says “I’m also probably our vineyards principal consumer,” and he makes the three-minute drive from his home to the winery nearly every day. Along with Pinot Noir, the vineyard produces a Riesling. “My wife to whom I defer on all things, decided on a whim one day that she was no longer going to drink red wine,” Neill told us. “This was something of a blow since I had gone to all the trouble to produce a fine red wine partly for her. Nevertheless I picked myself up and looked carefully for the varietal that I like best and would also flourish here—Riesling won easily on both counts. So now I thank her for being … well, difficult.”
Dan Akroyd, who wrote and starred in The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters and was an original cast member on Saturday Night Live, has two collections of Canadian wine in collaboration with Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits in Toronto. Akroyd is constantly traveling and makes a point to visit local wineries during his visits to gain inspiration from the culture, passion and dedication of winemakers all over the world. A long-time Bordeaux drinker and collector, he prides himself on supporting the Canadian winemaking industry with his series of regionally inspired and modestly priced wines.
Kyle MacLachlan is known for his roles in films including Blue Velvet, Dune, and The Doors as well as television roles in Desperate Housewives, Sex in the City and Twin Peaks. He became interested in winemaking while searching for a great Cabernet for his wedding in 2002. A Yakima, Washington native, he wanted to keep things local and reached out to Eric Dunham of Dunham Cellars in Walla Walla, WA to partner with him on the Pursued by Bear label. The duo created a Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah blend that was released in 2008. The name of the wine is inspired by the famous stage directions in Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” (“Exit, pursued by a bear,” Act III, scene iii). “It’s a funny and unexpected phrase that’s not only a nod to my theatrical roots, but also plays to my sense of humor,” Kyle says on his website. “It just seemed to fit what we were trying to do.”
For more, click Actors and Directors in Wine, Part I.