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Michelle Obama to launch wine line!

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Not really, but it caught your eye, didn’t it? And what’s more, you weren’t really surprised, were you? It would be just another case of a celebrity wine brand.

What does it say about our culture when everyone from the National Rifle Association to Bob Dylan wants to have or sponsor a wine brand?

You can read about the Dylan wine here and the National Rifle Association Wine Club here. Throw in P!nk’s new rosé, the California National Association of Women’s Feminist Wine Club, and the rapper Lil’ Jon’s wine, which I blogged about in June, and you have just about the entire bandwidth of America’s political and cultural spectrum. I could, of course, mention numerous star athletes, movie moguls and even dead celebrities (Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Jerry Garcia), whose names and images grace wine brands. Nor is this an entirely new trend: the 19th century famous opera singer, Lily Langtry, launched what might have been the world’s first celebrity wine when she purchased her Lake County property in 1888.

Who’s next? A sprightly little sparkling wine from Mr. Personality himself, Osama bin Laden? Something sweet from Sarah Palin? At this rate, everybody in the world will have his own wine brand, eventually.

It’s easy to mockumentarize the celebrity wine thing, but the truth is, I like it. It’s a testimony to how far we’ve come in this country in so short an amount of time. You don’t have to go very far back to an era when nobody drank wine, except Skid Row bums, first-generation European immigrants and a few rich people in the cities. When I was a kid, we saw wine exactly twice a year — on Passover and Hanukah — and it was Manischewitz.

Wine has become an integral part of the culture, in the same way as the computer. Doesn’t matter who you are — a nazi, a terrorist, a nun, a Buddhist, a secretary, a rock singer, a bricklayer, the President of the United States. We all use the computer; we all like wine. The phenomenon is that wine has become so central to our way of life, so normal, that famous, wealthy people and organizations — who presumably have professional advisors who tell them how to invest their money and manage their images — are hopping on the wine train, hoping, no doubt, to make a little extra cash, but thinking, also, that having their names associated with wine is a lot better than having it associated with dogfood.

Boomers: you did good. You lifted wine out of the gutter into which it had fallen and resurrected it. Millennials: thank us, take the torch, and keep running.

  1. Steve – feel compelled to point out that you are ignoring my generation in your torch hand-off there… I mean, we are the Lost Generation and probably the Troubled Middle Child generation among the three, but I like to think that we did *something* for the wine world ;-).

  2. Young Dude, you did a lot! I shoulda squeezed in the Ys. Or Xs. I get them mixed up.

  3. Steve – Please fix the unfortunate typo in paragraph 4 – “Osama”!!

  4. Yessir, wine has made it into the culture so that every named celeb can buy into the over-abundant bulk market and sell probably the same wine at a variety of prices, based on the rung each individual celeb has reached. True progress.

  5. done

  6. So where do you think wine will go as the torch is passed to the next generation?

    More importantly, where would you want it to go?

    Cheers!

  7. Hello all,

    I have a small winery in Sonoma County California. The name and the trademark I have is called Trek Wine. We focus our donations on organizations that take boys and girls backpacking and outdoor ourtings. Hence the name Trek Wine. We are currently being sued by Trek Bicycle Corp. The Bicylce industry has many bogs surrounding this issue. I need the wine industry to start blogs. If you would like more information just search Trek Wines. Thank you

  8. word on the street is Pink has just purchased a house in Healdsburg. Alexander Valley from what I hear, but no finer details than that.

  9. Chris: Wow. Maybe she’ll do U+Ur Hand at the Dry Creek Kitchen!

  10. Larry Chandler says:

    Lily Langry was not an opera singer. She was an actress and appeared in stage plays. She did, however, appear in opera houses and had one named after her by Texas Judge Roy Bean.

  11. I was thinking, Steve. It’s possible celebrity, as a lifestyle, has a way of inducting it’s members into the world of great wines. It can deliver a charge that makes them passionate about it. Consider their vast wealth and the passion to match, you’re right, it’s not surprising they take on these ventures. Speaking of, were you ever able to share a glass with Lil’ Jon?

  12. Dylan, I was driving to Lil Jon’s crib but his bling blinded me and I got lost.

  13. P!nk was in Bordeaux…http://club61.blogspot.com/
    It’s Jean-Michel Caze’s blog. Yes, JM has a blog now.

  14. As a Gen X (or Y?)-er I proudly accept that torch. I would like to think that we’ll completely take the pretention out of wine drinking (without taking away the class) and continue to make wine a household neccesity. With the help of social media and frank discussions about wine, I think this can be done. Now if only we could get the celebrities to endorse wine that’s already out there instead of making their own wine. (PS. Way to get up my hopes about a M. Obama wine!).

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