What do Celebrities and Your Father Share? They Love Wine!

Oenophiles, or those who have a passion for wine, can be found almost anywhere. Among the celebrity-set — those for whom the camera and microphone is no stranger — wine can become a passion as loudly spoken of as their craft. For Father’s Day, let’s look at some of the well-known wine dads of the world. It may not be their first job, but it is truly their passion.

Mario Andretti: Racing Legend

Take California’s Napa Valley. Just a day’s leisurely drive northward from Los Angeles sits more than 43,000 acres of America’s most productive vineyards. There, too, sit the vineyards of some famous oneophiles, like Formula One world champ Mario Andretti.

La Gasthaus - Bergamo (BG)
(Photo credit: zioWoody)

For all the fast-paced 200-mile-an-hour life on the track, Andretti returned to an unhurried Old World charm to inspire and inform his 53-acre Tuscan-themed estate. Dotted with Italian elements and a villa he sometimes calls home, Andretti’s lust for wine started as many do: simply. Andretti’s 111 victories over five decades allowed him to see the world, and partake in its nectars, too. Despite the distinction of South African Stellenbosch and the power of Catalan reds, Andretti’s been known to get excited about true northern Italy vintages, like the 1997 Sassicaia. Though some say his namesake winery doesn’t make as much an impression as his name, the true oenophile has no care but his own appreciation for the art, and Andretti’s appreciated the art for nearly 20 years.

Bob Dylan: The Folk King

Unsurprising for an industry so well known for its Italian roots, many celebrities actually make the jump to Lo stivale (“the boot”) to plant some seed and set up shop. Bob Dylan, always the music-man, launched a label of the vineyard kind in honor of his fourteenth studio album, Planet Waves. And typically taking the road less traveled, Dylan built his wine-link with an “undersung” Italian region on the Adriatic through Le Marche-region producer Fattoria Le Terrazze, or “Farm Terraces.”

Dylan’s fascination with an almost demure rural region seems to complement his almost private albums. To run the production of his wine, he alludes to the waves of the planet, or the winds of fate, bringing him together with an expert and a fan who never missed a European concert, Antonio Terni. The wines are mostly montepulciano blended with a touch of merlot, giving it a softer edge. This collaboration in the mid-2000s helped to reinvigorate a declining Italian wine market, especially on Italy’s oft-ignored Adriatic coast.

Gregg Popovich:  One of the Best Coaches Alive

The coach leading the San Antonio Spurs in a battle for the NBA championship is also a multi-faceted wine connoisseur. When he’s not befuddling sports reporters with his linguistic prowess, Gregg Popovich spends time with grapes as part-owner of Oregon winery A to Z Wineworks. Speaking at a benefit for the San Antonio-based non-profit Roy Maas Youth Alternatives, Popovich spoke openly about his company’s wines, acknowledging that they were no Old World Barolo but that they were certainly good for the price. His wines have history being from one of Oregon’s founding Willamette Valley vineyards, and all are available for under $20 a bottle.

Sam Neill as his character Alan Grant in the f...
Sam Neill in Jurassic Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sam Neill: Star of Jurassic Park and Hunt for Red October

On the other side of the world, another artist, though of the silver-screen kind, brought the touch only a celebrity can. Sam Neill, the Kiwi who starred alongside Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October and took the paleontological lead in Jurassic Park’s tyrannosaur paddock, opened a paddock himself, of the grape-growing kind. The winery, called Two Paddocks, started in 1993 with just 5 acres of Pinot noir on the south island of New Zealand. Neill admits it’s a time-consuming and generally unprofitable business. Like many true passions, the satisfaction he discovered inspired him to do more, acquiring almost 70 more acres in the past two decades to produce over 3000 cases a year of Pinot noir, Sauvignon blanc, and some Riesling.

Whether Hollywood, recording artists or pro sports, there are many fatherly figures who love wine and are avid wine collectors and winemakers. So here is a list to show your dad is in good company when you bring your dad a big California Cabernet Sauvignon.

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