Sat., Sep. 29, 2012 7:00 AM PDT
Why are Drew Barrymore and Fergie making wine? Is the wine any good?
—W.M. Magic, via Twitter
Fergie and Drew Barrymore are getting into the wine business for the same reason that any celebrity gets into any business: No matter what they may say about their "passions," or "muses," it's about money. And at least one celebrity is charging ridiculous amounts of said money...and he's not even crushing grapes with his feet or anything.
First, the list of celebrities in the wine business is longer than you might think. Get online at Wine.com and you'll see Real Housewife Ramona Singer's "fresh and fruity" pinot grigio ($15.29); Dave Matthews Dreaming Tree line (about $16); and the "fresh apricot" forward Barrymore pinot grigio.
That doesn't include a slew of golfers and famous chefs who also have their own labels. Why?
"Wine is sexy," says Ray Johnson, director of Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute.
Well, yes, there's no arguing with that. For her part, Barrymore told Haute Living earlier this month why she wanted to make wine:
"I'm very leery of celebrity culture and I didn't want this to be something that was tacky in a 'Hey, I'm just throwing my name on this and putting it out there' kind of way." she told the magazine. "I wanted to put it out there because wine is about tradition and family."
As for Singer, she told The Daily Beast that "I couldn't find a pinot grigio that I loved."
Of course the money a star may make down the line doesn't hurt either. Fergie has called her choice, very simply and smartly, an "investment."
Yao Ming, the massive Chinese basketball player, owns a luxury wine that sells for $289 a bottle and enjoys serious respect from wine snobs. Of course, a $289 bottle does not a profit make, but the fact that people are buying it indicates that the retired athlete is doing something right.
As for how involved stars are in the whole process, it's not hands-on, but it's not something these folks just mail in, either.
"I was recently talking one of the people who works with Yao Ming," says Sonoma State's Johnson. "And Yao Ming is really involved in the business side of it—deciding what they're going to do with the brand, how they're going to extend it."
In other words, none of these celebrities is out there picking grapes. But you can bet that they're doing a lot of tasting!