In today's wine world, some winemakers are considered rock stars by their fans. But only a few winemakers really are rock stars.
Better known as P!nk, Alecia Moore is one of the music industry's most recognized faces. A three-time Grammy winner, she has sold over 90 million records since her solo debut in 2000. She is currently performing on her "Beautiful Trauma" world tour. Married to professional motocross racer Carey Hart, Moore, 39, is also a mother of two. And she's a vintner.
But rather than trade on a seemingly made-in-the-shade coupling of her stage name and the soaring popularity of rosé to produce a mass-market wine, Moore chose a more hands-on, artisanal approach for her passion project.
In 2013, Moore purchased a 250-acre estate north of Los Angeles in Santa Barbara County. It came with 18 acres of organically farmed vines, planted to Cabernet Sauvignon along with Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and others; Moore planted an additional 7 acres to bring Syrah and Sémillon into the mix. The first release of her Two Wolves label totaled just 85 cases of individual Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot bottlings from the 2015 vintage; the rest of the fruit is being sold off for now. Moore plans to grow the project slowly to a goal of 2,000 cases per year.
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth caught up with the megastar recently to talk about what brought her to wine, her old-school vigneron inspirations and the mad-scientist experiments she's working on now.
Wine Spectator: This project has been a few years in the making. Tell me about how you found the vineyard.
Alecia Moore: We had some friends in the area and often rode motorcycles around there. We fell in love with the land. We were getting tired of the city, and with the kids, it just seemed like the right move.
WS: But a vineyard is whole new kind of headache. You need to really be into wine for that. How did you get the bug?
AM: It's funny, because I grew up with a mom who drank Manischewitz on the holidays, so I thought wine was punishment [laughs]. When I was young and broke and trying to sing for a living in Venice Beach, I fell in with a boys' club that wore suits and had wine budgets, and I drank with them. That's when I first started tasting real wine.
Then one day, I remember, I was in a Hilton in Australia and had a Châteauneuf-du-Pape and said, "Wow, this is fucking delicious." Suddenly it became more interesting, and I just went down the rabbit hole. I have three obsessions: my children, music and now wine.
WS: And what have you learned since going down the wine rabbit hole?
AM: Wine taught me to wake up and pay attention to life. The other side of my life is about escapism. Wine taught me to get engaged. Like, why have I never paid attention to all the different kinds of mushrooms out there, or the weather, or the moon? And you extend that into wine, and it's the barrels and the pruning—all these details. You have to pay attention.
WS: So as you got into drinking wine, you thought about winemaking?
AM: I had played around with the idea of living the life of a winery owner for a long time. One day after getting home off a tour eight or nine years ago, I decided to take some WSET classes. Then I went to the UCLA [Wine Education] Extension and eventually U.C., Davis, taking night classes along the way. I'm a high-school dropout and had never really been a real student before. But again, wine taught me how to pay attention.
WS: And from there, any practical experience?
AM: Absolutely. Look, I can read books all day long. But unless I actually do it, I don't understand it. So I went to France once a year for a few years and worked with a different winemaker and different grape type each time. Charly Foucault at Clos Rougeard was one of them, because Cabernet Franc is my jam. And I spent time in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas and Bordeaux.
WS: And then you came home and essentially decided to become a winemaker at your own property. How was that?
AM: When we took over the place, the previous owners had made wine from it just because the vineyard was there. But the vines weren't tended the way they could have been, and the soils weren't understood. So I just went to town on all of it.
WS: With some help though, right? Now you're on a 14-month-long tour, which seems pretty long. How do you get time to manage things?
AM: Fourteen months is short. They used to be 27 months, but I cut back when I became a mom [laughs]. But I do make sure to take off [from touring] on holidays and during harvest. And the wine community around here has been so great. You ask for help and they show up at your door. They invite you over to taste. Chad Melville has been a huge help and he introduced me to [winemaker] Alison Thompson, who does the day-to-day.
WS: You have a reputation for being very hands-on—you write your own songs, for example. So how do you handle something as detailed as a vineyard and winemaking when you're not home all the time?
AM: Well, Alison is U.C., Davis, so she teaches me the laws and then I break them [laughs]. But I also make sure I take time off on holidays and during harvest. This tour wraps up in August and then I'm home into the fall.
WS: Any other influences in terms of wine, other than Foucault and those you worked with?
AM: Being pro-female, Lalou Bize-Leroy is a total badass to me. When it comes to influences, I am a purist and I respect classics and tradition. But I also like to experiment. So while I learned about Cabernet Franc from Charly, I also made a carbonic Graciano and skin-fermented Sémillon. And that's what so much fun about wine.
WS: The name, Two Wolves ...?
AM: A Cherokee parable about how everyone has two wolves living inside them, in opposition.
WS: So many wineries are a family business. How do you see Two Wolves in the future?
AM: I'm just getting started. I'd love to give something to my kids to tend. Charly was an eighth-generation winemaker, and that's amazing to me. Two Wolves is a family thing, too, but in a different way. For right now, my husband is the janitor—he cleans up after me at the end of the day [laughs]. And my kids just eat the grapes. We all love it.