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Diane Keaton's New Wine Puts Snobs on Ice

Plus, Jordan Winery spoofs Star Wars; California tries, fails to address confusing social media laws; and Sauternes vignerons vow to keep fighting as high-speed train plans move forward
Lost scene from <em>The Godfather</em>:
Photo by: Everett Collection
Lost scene from The Godfather: "I'd kill a Corleone for some ice right now …"

Posted: October 15, 2015

Back in the 1970s, actress Diane Keaton made a statement with her menswear fashion obsession. Now she’s pushing boundaries in the wine world with her new red blend, The Keaton. It's a wine she says has been produced specifically to be served on ice, a preference she credits to suffering though sweltering hot New York summers with no A.C.

Earlier this year, Keaton found Bruce Hunter, managing director at Shaw-Ross International Importers, through a mutual friend and pitched her idea for a chilled red blend. Hunter then enlisted longtime friend Bob Pepi, winemaker for his own Eponymous brand and consulting winemaker for Andretti and Argentina's Valentín Bianchi, among others.

“We wanted to make a wine that people could enjoy with or without ice, that could hold up to being a bit diluted, that was fruit-forward but not sweet,” Hunter told Unfiltered. The Keaton is a red blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah and Zinfandel sourced from Lake County and Mendocino. The screwcap is another Keaton mandate. “[She] gives a realistic view of the way she drinks wine. It gives people a different platform to explore,” Hunter said of the Academy Award winner's hopes to create a brand that proves there's no wrong way to enjoy wine. “Diane Keaton is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She’s so down-to-earth, and we’re excited to work with her”.

The Keaton debuted Oct. 10 at the Hammer Museum’s Gala in the Garden fund-raiser in Los Angeles, at which Keaton and Paul McCarthy were the evening's honorees. Priced at $15, it hits wine stores in Southern California later this month, with distribution soon to follow in New York, New Jersey, Nevada and online. A white version of The Keaton is slated for November. No word yet on whether Keaton suggests it be warmed up for those cold winter nights.

The Force of Harvest Awakens: Jordan Winery Spoofs Star Wars

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away … or rather, in 1977 in California's Sonoma County, Jordan Winery CEO John Jordan was introduced to Star Wars. “The first Star Wars came out on my fifth birthday, and I have seen every movie on its release day ever since,” Jordan told Unfiltered. After taking over his family’s Alexander Valley winemaking business, he brought his lifelong obsession into the personality of the winery, last year hosting a Star Wars–themed Halloween party at the Jordan Estate and producing a companion parody video, “Cab Wars: The Fruit Strikes Back.”

After watching the trailer for the upcoming installment of the sci-fi franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jordan was inspired to make another parody, “Cab Wars: The Force of Harvest Awakens.” “We couldn’t allow the release of the latest Star Wars episode to go unrecognized at Jordan,” he said. The video celebrates the end of the 2015 harvest with levitating grapes, vineyard lightsaber battles and Imperial Stormtroopers posing as winery workers. A life-size Yoda figurine, a gift to Jordan from a visiting customer, makes many cameos, as do starships zooming through the vineyards. Jordan developed the video with Lisa Mattson, the winery’s director of marketing and communications, who has been producing in-house videos, including an annual music video, for the family-run winery since 2009. “We shot the footage ourselves and then hired a special-effects artist to add the lightsaber glow, lasers, Death Star in the sky, levitating grapes, bins and bottles,” Mattson told Unfiltered. And leaving no detail forgotten, they also hired a musician to create an instrumental score similar to the one in the actual movie trailer. "We take our craft seriously," Jordan said, "[but] wine is about having fun.”

California Tries, Fails to Address Confusing Social Media Laws

Unfiltered readers will recall the ongoing fiasco surrounding the California ABC's social media policies. It started with an ABC warning issued to member wineries of the Save Mart Supermarkets Grape Escape event stating that their tweets were in violation of tied-house laws, meant to thwart abuse of relationships between suppliers and retailers. A year later, the event was cancelled after only four wineries were willing to participate, down from 60 the year before.

The remedy was to update California law to reflect the changing times and the power and ease of marketing events via social media. And it seemed lawmakers were genuinely interested in fixing this issue with the passage of Assembly Bills 780 and 776, two measures that were perhaps prematurely hailed as a step forward, yet failed to deliver under further scrutiny. Unfiltered reached out to Rebecca Stamey-White, a partner with San Francisco-based law firm Hinman & Carmichael, for clarification.

“AB 780 removed the provision that suppliers could only give retailer information in response to a ‘direct inquiry from a consumer,’ which is great, but … is not a provision that the ABC has ever actively enforced. So, not only does AB 780 not address the larger problem, but it addresses a non-existent problem,” Stamey-White told Unfiltered.

“AB 776 [permits] suppliers to sponsor charity events also sponsored by retailers and to advertise their own and the retailer's participation in the event, but that's still a very narrow exception and set of circumstances," she said. "Continuing to add all of these narrow exceptions, instead of trying to create a more comprehensive solution to the tied-house laws, creates an environment where it's even hard for a lawyer specializing in alcoholic beverage law to figure out a compliant social-media strategy, let alone a small winery that doesn't have a legal team on hand to clear each social-media post.” Unfiltered eagerly awaits our lawyer's approval to click "Unlike."

Sauternes Vignerons Vow to Fight High-Speed Train

On Sept. 26, Sauternes winegrowers were busy with harvest when the terrible news came: Alain Vidalies, the Minister of Transport, had approved controversial plans to build a high-speed train route through the Ciron Valley. “We were horrified by the decision. It’s so anti-democratic, so absurd.” said Berenice Lurton, owner of Château Climens and one of the activists battling the project alongside environmentalists.

A public inquiry voted against the project, but it was not enough to outmaneuver three powerful politicians. Alain Juppé, mayor of Bordeaux and influential in the conservative UMP party, and Alain Rousset, president of the Regional Council of Aquitaine and a Socialist leader, and Martin Malvy, president of the Midi-Pyrénées region, are in favor of the project, which now awaits official approval from the Elysée.

Once the Elysée inks the "declaration of public utility," the activists will take their complaint to the Supreme Court in Paris. “This will block all action and stop construction,” Xavier Planty, co-owner of Château Guiraud and president of the local wine syndicate, told Unfiltered. Then they’ll plead their case in Luxembourg at the European Court of Justice, arguing that the project endangers protected species and human rights. “The battle has just begun!” said Planty.

The proposed rail line would allow France’s high-speed trains to continue south from Bordeaux to Toulouse and Dax and, eventually, far in the future, to Spain. However, the engineers plan to build in the Ciron River Valley. The Sauternes producers have argued that the construction and train line would destabilize the fragile ecosystem that fosters the wine region's essential botrytis growth, without which Sauternes' famed dessert wines can't be made.

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