In 1945, the Bordeaux winery Château Mouton Rothschild began commissioning prestigious painters to personalize the design of its wine label. An artistic commitment, of course, but it also worked as a claim: Picasso, Braque, Miró, Warhol, Cocteau, Dalí, Balthus or Haring signed some of his vintages. Perhaps it was one of the first occasions in which promotion through artistic celebrities was directly linked in the world of wine, a relationship that has been maintained over the last decades with greater or lesser success.
'Champagne': the luxury that was born from a revolt
Some of the latest examples have been those of Lady Gaga or Lenny Kravitz, who have recently signed special editions of Dom Pérignon. But there are famous personalities who do not limit themselves to putting on their faces, designing a label or participating in the promotion of a wine, but who get fully involved in its production: one of the most serious and long-lasting projects, especially for its commitment to the territory is that of the filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, who began to acquire a vineyard in 1975 —the year after the release of The Godfather II— until in 2006 he acquired Chateau Souverain in Sonoma, California. He not only produces vinus: wine tourism (restaurant included) is a fundamental part of his company. Several of his wines were served at the Oscar nominees luncheon on March 7, along with the rosé champagne that Brad Pitt makes in collaboration with the Perrin and Péters families.
Pitt and his ex-partner Angelina Jolie are part of the list of personalities from the world of cinema who have followed in Coppola's footsteps, also demonstrating a certain commitment to the quality of their wine, beyond considering it an investment. They set their sights on the Côtes de Provence and entrusted the production of their Château Miraval rosé to Marc Perrin, a member of a well-known family of winemakers from the Rhône. To get his champagne off the ground, Pitt (now alone) has also teamed up with the Péters family, from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger Another of the brightest stars in the Hollywood universe, Leonardo DiCaprio, has also been involved in the production of a wine and of course, it has been with a winery with a marked environmental commitment, Champagne Telmont, of which the winner of an Oscar for The Revenant has become a shareholder. Before them, the musician Sting and his partner, the actress Trudie Styler, decided to make their own wine in Tuscany.
Sanclodio, in Ribeiro, was the project with which the film director José Luis Cuerda turned his love for Galicia after having filmed The Language of the Butterflies there, and after having triumphed as a producer of The Others, by Alejandro Amenábar. The filmmaker's wine is a white with native varieties of the area: Treixadura, Loureira, Godello and Albariño. Now one of his daughters, Elena, continues to run the winery in Valle del Avia. Fashion designer Roberto Verino chose Monterrei to make his Gargalo, a wine with which he vindicates his family's wine tradition and the essence of Galician viticulture.
Involvement in the territory is also the engine of the Lluis Llach wine project in Porrera, one of the nine towns that make up the DOQ Priorat. Vall Llach, created by the musician and Enric Costa in the 1990s, goes beyond wines: it also produces oil and reinvests part of its profits in improving the town and the well-being of its neighbors: one of its projects allocates part of the money from their sales to finance leisure activities for the elderly in Porrera. The most recent of these examples is that of the Canarian soccer player David Silva. With an interest in the world of wine for some years —he was already an investor in the Soto Manrique winery in Gredos—, he has teamed up with the producer Jonatan García (Suertes del Marqués) to make Tamerán, which is released on the market with six references and which aims to offer a representative wine from the island of Gran Canaria, made with native varieties and ecological criteria. Silva is not the first footballer to invest in wine, but perhaps he is the one who has made the greatest commitment to wines guided by quality and sustainability objectives in the territory, keys that are marking the criteria of many producers today.
There are also those who have decided to get involved in the wine business, although not directly, but through family ties: the designer from Lerme Amaya Arzuaga (National Fashion Design Award 2013) is now dedicated to the wine tourism management of the Hotel and Bodegas Arzuaga Spa and runs the Taller Arzuaga restaurant (1 Michelin star), in Quintanilla de Onesimo, in the heart of the Ribera del Duero in Valladolid. Or the national team player Andrés Iniesta, who names the family winery in Fuentealbilla, his town in Albacete, after him.
A well-known name is not enough to sell a wine
Not even the claim that Miguel Bosé, Michel or Butragueño were part of a score of famous investors saved Bodega Casalobos, inaugurated with great fanfare in 2008 and which entered bankruptcy proceedings in 2012. Developed in the province of Ciudad Real in the midst of boom in the construction sector, was a project that did not get off the ground, despite the media coverage of its partners, most of whom had no prior relationship with the world of wine. Neither was the presence of Joan Manuel Serrat among the partners sufficient for the viability of Perinet, in Montsant. The winemaking incursion into the Ribera del Duero by Antonio Banderas did not last long, which in 2009 took over 50% of Anta. His name was not enough to save the winery, which went into bankruptcy proceedings a few years later and is now in the hands of the Riojan group CVNE. Whether they appear as mere investors or declare themselves passionate about the sector, the truth is that the name of a celebrity does not give a wine the passport to success.