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Call It the "Fleetwood Uncorked" Tour:
Rock Star Drums Up Own Wine Label

September 14, 2004  
By Dana Nigro  
It's not often that a vintner releases a new rock album at the same time he releases a new wine. But Mick Fleetwood, who has a solo project coming out this month, took time out yesterday from the tail end of a worldwide Fleetwood Mac tour to promote his Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar label.  
In New York, the drummer and band co-founder introduced his first  wine, the 1998 Cuv�e, a blend of 75 percent Merlot and 25 percent Cabernet Franc from California's Santa Ynez Valley. "Aged 30 months in French oak" may be music to enophiles' ears, but they're probably not words fans of Rumours ever expected from Mick's mouth.  
The tall, gray-haired, but still ponytailed rocker, 57, says he has calmed down from his earlier hard-partying days: "I used to drink gallons of beer, but I said goodbye to that several years ago." Now when Fleetwood and his wife, Lynn, entertain, he's likely to be encouraging his friends to try his latest wine find, often a smooth, supple Merlot. Singer-songwriter Al Stewart, known for his hit "Year of the Cat," helped Fleetwood along the path to wine appreciation, introducing him to Gew�rztraminer with Indian food and teaching him about other food-and-wine matches.  
But the Brit doesn't claim to be a connoisseur, referring to himself in English slang as "a punter" when it comes to wine. Fleetwood says he just knows what he likes and hopes other people will share his taste. "I want this to be fun" -- for himself and his fans.  
Fleetwood and business partner Jonathan Todd, managing director of Fleetwood Marketing, have been working together to select wines for the label, tasting through samples requested from small producers. "The concept behind Mick's label is to find unusual wines, especially if we can blend them ourselves, and bring them out in small quantities," said Todd. They plan to have four different bottlings of no more than 10,000 cases each -- three reds and one white. (Though Fleetwood says whites are "not my first love," he sees the label as a learning experience and wants to keep an open mind). The next addition is likely to be a California Cabernet.  
"It's not a fast process, like every record we produce," said Todd. Fleetwood requires "a couple months living with the wine -- it's a very personal thing -- before he's willing to commit his name to it."  
The 1998 cuv�e from Santa Ynez was made from grapes from Westerley Vineyards by Mike Brown, a continent-hopping Australian who is winemaker for Buttonwood in Santa Barbara County, has his own M. Brown label from Australia and also makes his own Kalyra label, sometimes blending wines from California and Australia. Though each bottle bears Fleetwood's image and rock album-style lettering for his name, the labels are otherwise fairly traditional looking.  
With about 6,000 cases made, the wine will retail for about $30 around the country, less if ordered online through California-based Premium Distributors at Availability will be limited; for example, in New York, the wine will be exclusive to the Grand Hyatt hotel for a while. The next vintage will be 2000 (they skipped 1999 because it wasn't Mick's style), of which 10,000 cases will be made.  
It seems classic rock-themed wines are becoming a trend. California's Clos du Bois winery makes a wine named J. Garcia after the late Grateful Dead member; the labels feature the musician's artwork. And Bob Dylan has lent his backing to an Italian blend, named after his album Planet Waves. Come to think of it, The Mick Fleetwood Band's upcoming CD, Something Big, wouldn't be a bad name for a California Cabernet.  


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Last Updated - 18 September 2004

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