Celebrity grapevine

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The celebrity fashion for owning a vineyard is on the increase, according to Alex Hewetson

A growing trend in the world of wine is the involvement of famous people with vineyards; I might have said rich and famous, but there are many rich people who are quietly involved in wine without all the fanfare and razzamatazz that goes with celebrity. The glitterati who indulge in their viniferous whims vary greatly, as does their involvement.

MADONNA

Madonna has an interest in a family-run vineyard
Madonna has an interest in a family-run vineyard

There are three types of celebrity wineries: those bought by stars for their own consumption – this category includes David and Victoria Beckham, Sting, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and Johnny Depp; others have an interest in wine but watch it being produced from a distance – Madonna, for instance, who collaborates with her father Silvio “Tony” Ciccone in the family-owned Ciccone Vineyard and Winery in Michigan in the United States.

Then there are those involved in every aspect of the

Actor Gerard Depardieu’s wine sells in Belgium
Actor Gerard Depardieu’s wine
sells in Belgium

process, such as French comic actor Gerard Depardieu, a serious aficionado who has vineyards in France, including the Chateau de Tigne label, as well as California, Algeria, Argentina, Morroco, Spain and Sicily. In the business for more than 30 years, Depardieu’s produce sells in Belgium at the Brussels gastronomic store Rob The Gourmets’ Market in Woluwe-St-Pierre.

But if you are titillated by the prospect of drinking wines made by the stars, not all of them are available here in Belgium. Of those that are, be prepared to pay upwards of €15 a bottle.

GOLFERS’ PASSION

Let’s take a few sports personalities for starters. If you are not an ice hockey fan, you may not have heard of Canadian Wayne Gretzky, but he is widely considered the greatest ice hockey player of all time. Having retired from crushing opponents on ice, he indulges in the more genteel pastime of making wine, in association with wine professionals who produce the various styles of wine on his estate (No. 99 Estates Winery) in Ontario. A number of golfers also have a passion for wine – Nick Faldo (Nick Faldo Wines) and Greg Norman (Greg Norman Estates), to name but two, both have wineries in Australia – Norman also in California – and are keen to produce wines of serious quality, making it clear they wish to be respected for their wares.

JURASSIC WINE

In the world of show business, the players include the Italian-American movie director, producer and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola of Godfather fame. His winery, the Rubicon Estate in California, is well respected, producing reds of different quality and price, but mercifully none named after his films – I dreaded seeing something along the lines of Apocalypse Reserve on the shelves during my visit there. Bottles from the Coppola winery can be obtained from Belgian wine seller Rouseu Wines. Another actor of renown who has established a winery is Sam Neill, the paleontologist Dr Alan Grant in Jurassic Park. His Two Paddocks winery on the South Island of his native New Zealand is where he produces quality Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Merlot and Pinot Noir – definitely worth a try. There is sadly no supplier in Belgium, although the English wine merchants Haynes Hanson & Clark in London do stock Two Paddocks produce.