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Wine Talk: Peggy Fleming

Olympic star glides from the ice rink to the vineyards

Tim Fish
Posted: July 5, 2005

When figure skater Peggy Fleming took home the gold medal with her graceful performance at the 1968 Olympics, she became one of the Games' first darlings of the mass-media age. While Fleming, 57, no longer glides the ice, she is a regular commentator for ABC Sports and ESPN and is now a vintner. She and her husband of 35 years, Greg Jenkins, released the debut wines from Fleming Jenkins Vineyard and Winery in May. The couple tends a 1-acre vineyard on their Los Gatos, Calif., ranch, 1,400 feet above sea level in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The initial releases include a 2003 estate Chardonnay (87 points, $35, 71 cases), a 2003 Syrah (85, $40, 99 cases) from friend John Madden's vineyard in Livermore Valley and a 2004 Syrah rosé (87, $17, 23 cases) from the San Francisco Bay area.

Wine Spectator: How did you become interested in wine?
Peggy Fleming: Through my travels as an athlete. I traveled to Europe a lot. My coach, Carlo Fassi, was Italian so he loved eating and drinking wine. He exposed me to wines and different foods. So I wouldn't get nervous about the competition, he got my mind off of things when we were traveling and we would go to museums and things. My husband, Greg, and I enjoy wine and cooking, so I guess it was just inevitable that we would end up making wine. We make the wines we like to drink. It's really just personal.

WS: When did you plant your vineyard?
PF: In 1999. We have a lot of property up here, a few acres up in the hills, and we weren't using a lot of it. We put the vineyard in because we thought it would be beautiful; it was really as much about landscaping as wine. But we did do a soil analysis, and we chose Chardonnay. At first we were just giving out the wine as presents, but now here we are--a bonded winery. The current vintage is about 220 cases, and we're going to grow a little at a time. We're planning next year to do about 500 cases, and in 2007, we'll probably do around 1,000.

WS: Who is your winemaker?
PF: My husband. He's a physician, and he loves the science and chemistry that goes along with making wine. We're making the wine at Testarossa winery in Los Gatos. They're guiding us through it. I think you have to surround yourself with wise people who know the business. It's just like finding a good coach when you're training for the Olympics.

WS: What have you learned in your time as a grower and vintner?
PF: That it's a lot more work than we ever thought it would be. It's like our children. You practically spend as much time with the vineyard as you do with your kids. But we want it to always be fun. We don't want it to be a job.

WS: Have you found that wine and ice-skating share anything in common?
PF: Both are artistic and creative and beautiful, so I love that whole end of wine. I want our vineyard to look gorgeous and make exquisite wine.

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