Ryan Seacrest is famously passionate about music: Millions of Americans know him from his roles on American Idol, American Top 40 and his Los Angeles morning radio show, On Air With Ryan Seacrest. Less well known, however, is the television and radio host's deep love—nay, "obsession," as Seacrest puts it—for wine.
When Seacrest, 40, got his first job as a DJ for a local radio station in San Francisco almost 20 years ago, he was thrilled that his salary would allow him to budget for a great bottle of California wine every week. His fondness for the wines of his adopted home state, and his friendships with Napa vintners, eventually led him to a new hosting gig in 2006: Auction Napa Valley. Seacrest chatted recently with assistant editor Esther Mobley about the wines he drinks, how he cellars them and why he's so obsessed.
Wine Spectator: Have you always been interested in wine?
Ryan Seacrest: When I was growing up in Atlanta, my father had a very small closet collection and eventually built a little wine cellar in the basement of our house. He would drink red wine with dinner, and he started to introduce it to me ... [laughs] when I was of age to be introduced to it. I developed a real passion, and it was something he and I bonded over. Eventually it became something that navigated my travel and my dining—that whole aspect of my life.
WS: What do you drink?
RS: I love rosé Champagne. I like very dry white wines—any of the drier whites that come from the Napa Valley and white Burgundies. I drink red with chicken, fish and meat. I love the Colgin wines; I think those are some of the best in the Napa Valley. I drink the Napa Valley Reserve. One of my favorite Bordeaux is La Mission Haut-Brion; it's a great value for a fantastic wine. And I love tequila—my tequila of choice is Casa Dragones.
WS: Do you have a cellar in your home?
RS: I built one in this new home when I moved into it. When I bought the house, it did not have a wine cellar. It was the second one I built. The first one I built was in the home prior, and I made an entire level, with a wine tasting bar inside the cellar. This one is all temperature-controlled. It's primarily California Cab and Left and Right Bank Bordeaux. I have some Burgundy as well, but I end up really liking the bigger reds.
WS: How do you buy your wine?
RS: The folks from Wally's will come in [to my home cellar] and look at what I've got. I'll say, "What do I need more of? What do I need to try? What are some great values?" Christian [Navarro] does a fantastic job guiding me. I'm also very close with the Marcianos, and I've tasted their wine that is going to be released shortly, from barrel, which I'm really excited about. I use their olive oil, too.
WS: You were the host of Auction Napa Valley in 2006. How did that come about?
RS: Through my friends Ann and Joe Colgin. I looked at the invitation and I thought, "Oh my God, I'm going to be in one place where I can meet all these people that are stars?" I was so excited to meet the people who ran the wineries and the winemakers—those were the people that I would read about and were the ones that I wanted to meet. It was fun, because you're in a room with people who are passionate about the same things that you are.
I love going to Napa. Visiting Harlan Estate, I'm like a kid in a candy store. These are all wines that, when I was growing up, and before I could afford them, I was dreaming about. So to have the opportunity to try them and be where they make them is very special.
WS: Do you travel to wine regions?
RS: I've been to Tuscany, I've been to the Bolgheri coast. I've been to Bordeaux. I went to Stellenbosch last month to taste. Incredible wines and amazing values, too. And the setting is just spectacular. But the one place I've never been to is Burgundy. So I'm anxiously awaiting planning that trip. That'll be the next one.