Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Celebritization of Wine

With all this talk of globalization and industrialization, is the celebritization of wine being overlooked? Mike (Da Bears) Ditka has rolled out his own label along with Mendocino Wine Company, joining the growing ranks of celebrities in the wine business.

If by chance you don’t remember Iron Mike as the notoriously angry, albeit very popular and successful, coach of the Chicago Bears, you may remember him from the Saturday Night Live sketch “Bill Swerski's Superfans.” In the skit Ditka was idolized by a group of sausage eating, beer drinking, heart-attack having Chicago fans toasting to "Da Bearss" all in a pitch perfect Chicagoan “dis” “dat” accent. All of this conjures up images of a civilized glass of wine, no?

Well, as Ditka himself will tell you, "Looks can be deceiving. I've drank red wine my whole life. There's no wine ever made that I didn't try." I guess only taste will tell. Choose from Ditka Da’ Coach Pinot Grigio, Mike Ditka Kick Ass Red or opt for Da Coach’s Chardonnay, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. Prices range from $10 for the Pinot Grigio to $50 for the red blend. Come on, you knew you would have to pay up to score some Kick Ass Red! You don’t have to wonder too much about the attack on that wine, a blend of Syrah, Petit Sirah and Zinfandel.

I suppose Ditka has as much right as anybody to make his own wine. After all, Dick Vermeil, also a previous NFL coach, is a partner in OnTheEdge Wines in Calistoga in Northern Napa Valley. I’ve tasted some of the OnTheEdge wines and well, let’s put it this way, he has a Super Bowl Ring but I am not sure he has all his Xs and Os in order when it comes to winemaking. Even some retired NFL players are in on the wine scene. Joe Montana partners with Ed Sbragia of Beringer fame to market a wine called Montagia, a Cabernet blend from Napa. (Let’s just hope that the “Juice” doesn’t get involved with the juice.)

The celebrity wine craze does not end with football – or sports for that matter. There are pro golfers, race car drivers, figure skaters, rockers, actors, and even porn stars getting in on the wine turf in one way or another. Here’s da scoop as best we know it:

  • Carmen Policy, former executive of the San Francisco 49ers
  • Bill Walsh, former 49ers Coach
  • San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos
  • Former Charger’s player Lou Kapscandy
  • Golfers Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Mike Wier, Nick Faldo and Arnold Palmer
  • Figure skater Peggy Fleming
  • Race car drivers Jeff Gordon, Mario Andretti and Randy Lewis
  • Actress Lorraine Bracco
  • Actor Gerard Depardieu, and Fess Parker (of Davey Crockett fame)
  • Rockers Vince Neil, Mick Fleetwood, Sting, Jerry Garcia and Bob Dylan
  • Singer Olivia Newton John
  • Porn Star Savanna Samson

Heard of any others? Go Bearss!


  1. Francis Ford Coppola has to be the prime example of the celebritization of wine. I don't feel qualified to comment on how good the wine is (tasty the first time I tried it, but disapointing since then) but he's arguably both the most famous and most prolific winemaker on the list.

  2. You are indeed correct about Francis Ford Coppola. So right, in fact, that we thought him to obvious to add to the list. Thanks!

  3. I guess we have to officially add Madonna to the list. I read this morning that her father, who owns Ciccone Vineyards in Michigan (no comment) is putting out a limited edition Madonna wine. Like a prayer...

  4. Great blog! Referred via Vinography.

    I actually do like the rather odd, rustic On The Edge Charbono I tried at their tasting room in Calistoga. Didn't care for the others, though.

  5. Brian,

    Glad to have you on board! We hope you are enjoying it.