Rock Stars in Wine

Did you know that there is a growing group of musicians who have turned their creative talents to winemaking in their spare time? Here’s what some of them are doing…

Journey’s Jonathan Cain
To Jonathan Cain, keyboardist and longtime member of the band Journey, winemaking and music go hand in hand. Passion, patience and the desire to please an audience are the similarities he lists between the two, which is why the three wines he’s created under the delaCain label are named after musical terms: Finale, All Access and Chaconne, meaning slow dance. Jonathan’s interest in wine started with his grandfather, who made his own wine when he arrived in Arkansas from Czechoslovakia in 1920 from Muscat vines that grew wild on his property. Jonathan’s fascination led him to explore the wineries of Northern California, and when the opportunity presented itself, he jumped at the chance to become co-vintner and consultant of the delaCain label with Dennis De La Montanya, who owns their 80-acre vineyard in California. Most of Dennis’s fruits are sold to big operations, but the duo uses what’s left to create their “fun, neat little collection” made up of two Cabernet Sauvignons and a Pinot Noir, Jonathan told VINE TALK. “There’s a lot of music that goes into winemaking,” Jonathan says. “Wines and grapes are handled with a rhythm…The gravity of the whole thing is like a waltz.” Jonathan says his favorite part of winemaking is crush—the process of squashing the grapes—and looks forward to being in California during that time with his Journey bandmates this year. He also lists the people he’s met and worked with as a favorite part of his hobby. “The people on the winemaking path I find are spectacular,” Jonathan says. “What keeps me going is admiration.”

Queensrÿche’s Geoff Tate
Geoff Tate of the heavy metal band Queensrÿche teamed up with Holly Turner, winemaker for Three Rivers Winery in Washington state “through a friendship and a mutual appreciation for the winemaking process,” according to Holly. Geoff had been a fan of Holly’s wines for a few years, and while the duo toured other wineries together as potential producers for Geoff’s label, in the end they decided that they should just do it together. They’ve created two wines under the Insania label, simply called “Insania White” and “Insania Red.” The white wine is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes and the red is a Bordeaux blend that features four varieties from ten different vineyards. “It started out as something fun,” Holly told VINE TALK, “but Insania wines have been selling out every year they’re bottled.” Since 2007, three Insania vintages have been bottled, and Holly says they’ll only stop when “it stops being fun.”

Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana became involved with winemaking in 1999, when he collaborated with Mumm Napa on the release of Santana DVX, a one-time sparkling vintage. It was so successful that the team paired up again to create the Santana Brut label. “The Santana Brut is a little on the sweeter side for us,” Mitch Davis, brand Director from Mumm Napa, told VINE TALK. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir with about 30% Chardonnay, although the blend varies from vintage to vintage. Carlos’s main role is the label packaging and design, and while he leaves the winemaking up to the experts at Mumm Napa, he does visit the winery about once a year to approve the taste profiles. A portion of the proceeds benefit Santana’s Milagro Foundation, with funds earmarked to benefit alcohol and drug prevention for children and teens.