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Pearl Jam's Big Return to Seattle—with Washington Wine

We talked to the winemakers behind the band's labels, made in honor of their homecoming concert. Plus, Fukushima wine on Colbert, a vinous legacy for an LGBTQ activist legend, and more spacewine
Photo by: Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images
Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder maintains an even flow of wine throughout his concerts.

Posted: July 26, 2018

Well before it was considered rock 'n' roll to own a wine collection, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder proudly popped and partook of Pinot right there on stage during concerts. And in the years since the band's breakout 1991 album Ten, the Seattle area has become as famous for its winemaking scene as its grunge scene. No surprise then that the band has tuned up a new charity label with winemakers in Woodinville, Wash.'s eno-punk Warehouse District to celebrate next month's Home x Away concerts and raise money for the Vitalogy Foundation, Pearl Jam's Seattle homelessness awareness and relief charity.

Colby D. Kuschatka
Home (left, Seattle) and Away (from second-to-left, Missoula, Mont., Chicago and Boston)

The Home x Away limited-edition box set of reds is a release from the Underground Wine Project, a collaboration between Washington winemakers Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery and Trey Busch of Sleight of Hand Cellars; each bottle of the Idle Hands Syrah/Cabernet cuvée sports a label design by Pearl Jam depicting a retro-futuristic skyline silhouette of one of the four cities along the Home x Away tour kicking off next month, including Seattle, where the Aug. 8 and 10 "Home Shows" mark the band's homecoming after five years since last playing Jet City—and, reportedly, the biggest concert series the city has seen in more than three decades.

“We have been longtime fans," McNeilly told Unfiltered of the project. "Trey and I have met [Pearl Jam] band members over the years at different things, and we have worked with them a little bit with some of their charities, but it’s just fun to be pulled in a little bit closer for a great cause. I think that if we can work with Pearl Jam and find some new arenas to talk about philanthropy and talk about people’s responsibilities toward charity, you can kind of open people’s eyes and let them know everybody has a responsibility to help everybody else."

All the proceeds of the 450 cases sold went to the Vitalogy Foundation. That's right, the new wine, alas, has already sold out—within 15 minutes of the band announcing the project via its email newsletter. But for the homers in the Seattle area, 10 of chef Ethan Stowell's restaurants that snapped up some of the wine will be selling it by the glass, with further proceeds going to charity, starting Aug. 1, in the lead-up to the Seattle gigs. Pearl Jam's partnership with the Underground Wine Project is one of many surrounding the Home Shows with a goal of raising $960,000, with each donation made to the Vitalogy Foundation to be matched by the band.


Stride of Pride: Barefoot Wine's New Docu Celebrates LGBTQ Community with 'Pose' Actress, Old-School Activist

Last year's sleeper sparkler of choice for boat christenings is this year's ally-auteur. E. & J. Gallo brand Barefoot most recently made waves at Outfest, one of the biggest LGBTQ film festivals in the world, in presenting "One Stride: Chosen Family," a short film telling the stories of how three sets of LGBTQ friends have each been brought together through love, support and, of course, wine.

Directed by Stephen Winter and produced by Winter and Ned Stresen-Reuter, the documentary stars the '60s-era LGBTQ civil rights activist Richard Leitsch (who died at 83 in June, just weeks after filming the project), actor Mj Rodriguez, from FX's hit show Pose, and other members of the LGBTQ community who have created a "chosen family" of their own.

Barefoot sponsors more than 200 LGBTQ events around the world each year, with its involvement in the causes going back 30 years. The brand is also running a "Barefoot Bestie Label" campaign, which lets buyers create personalized, rainbow-colored wine labels for three different Barefoot bottlings to share with their WBFFs (Wine Best Friends Forever; you got it, we know). That program benefits Outfest and runs through Sept. 8.


'Slightly Radioactive' Wines with Fukushima Isotopes Get Spoof Ad on Colbert

If you read today's Wine Spectator story, "Radioactive Isotopes in California Wines? Don't Panic," you probably won't be too worried about the trace amounts of the radioactive cesium-137 isotope detected in California wines made after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. If you watched The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night … you might be.

The show opened with a spoof ad for the fictional Santa Rosa Estate Chardonnay, which, a dulcet voiceover coos, "can be characterized as crisp, light-bodied, and slightly radioactive. It pairs well with fish and light pasta, and will give you mutant powers beyond human comprehension!" If that means waking up one day with the magical gift of perfect blind tasting, could be worth the risk.


Limited-Time Only: Special Deal on Spacewine Included with Your Deposit on $9.5 Million Space Vacation!

When France's national football team beat Croatia in the World Cup final, the French exulted with some fairly out-of-this-world antics: Normally restrained Bordeaux first-growth Château Lafite Rothschild was practically giving away bottles! Why not, figured aerospace company Orion Span, launch the festivities literally out of this world?

In honor of Les Bleus' win, the company is offering the next three French residents to put down a deposit on a 12-day stay aboard its Aurora Station space hotel (not yet in space) a six-month supply of wine that the company says “defies the challenges of drinking in zero gravity," which is apparently an issue that several wine companies independently have felt the need to address this summer. “Since launching reservations in April, we’ve received interest from travelers around the world—including many from France. In honor of their big win, we’re providing avid World Cup fans from France the ultimate way to celebrate,” said Frank Bunger, founder of Orion Span, in a press release.

Orion Span
The Wine Bar at the End of the Universe

Pour le prix of just an $80,000 deposit, monsieur (they take cryptocurrency!), you can begin enjoying your gravitationally flexible wine in 2020. The trip itself doesn't launch until 2022 and will set you back a total of at least $9.5 million, but interested Franco-cosmo-enophiles have until Aug. 31, to get in on this offer.


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