Celebrity Wines - Drivers

Wine in the Winner's Circle

 


Life in the fast line, that’s how these guys roll. The world of wine has been expanding at such a rapid pace that it’s not surprising to find aspiring vintners from all walks of life. In fact, we’ve tracked down 4 who started life on the road, at 150 miles per hour!

Yes, it’s true, racecar drivers can now be found making wine. And not just any racecar drivers but winners from NASCAR and Formula 1, not to leave out the amazing finishes in Can-Am races as well as the Indianapolis 500. With a track record (no pun intended) like that it’s not surprising that these guys continue to win -- medals with their wines, that is.
Mario Andretti – Andretti Winery

Perhaps the most famous driver ever, Mario Andretti left the world of motorsports after winning races in virtually every division imaginable, from midget racers to NASCAR and, of course, the Indy 500. With so many wins under his belt it’s no surprise that Mario brought passion and drive to his signature Napa Valley estate: Andretti Winery.

With 42 acres in the Oak Knoll District, famed for its long, marine-cool growing season, the Andretti estate produces fine, balanced wines from Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Mario has enlisted Bob Pepi, son of the renowned Robert Pepi and world-class winemaker in his own right, as winemaker and the results speak for themselves: these wines are winners.

Jeff Gordon – Jeff Gordon Wines


While Mario Andretti may be the most famous racecar driver on this list, Jeff Gordon is probably the most well-known in the USA. This four-time NASCAR Cup Series champ is virtually a household name. Now Jeff has set his sights on making Jeff Gordon wines equally as well-known and highly regarded.

Jeff has enlisted Joe Briggs, of the August Briggs winery, to make his wine and has produced wines from Carneros Chardonnay, Napa Valley Cabernet, Merlot and Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Jeff’s love of the region is easy to understand considering his early days racing midget cars on tracks in Calistoga and Petaluma.

Kevin Buckler – Adobe Road

While perhaps more famous as the owner of The Racer’s Group sportscar racing team, Kevin Buckler had an illustrious career with wins at both the 24 Hours of Daytona and 24 Hours of le Mans. After spending much time in the garage, tuning up and getting ready for race day, it may come as a surprise that Kevin started his winemaking career making garage wine. Well, maybe that isn’t surprising after all.

Kevin enlisted Michael Scorsone as Adobe Road’s winemaker. Michael brings experience at some of the finest California wineries to the table, operations such as Neyers, Failla and even Turley. Together Kevin and Michael have produced a full line of California wines from some of wine country’s most famous appellations.

Richard Childress – Childress Vineyards


Richard Childress ran NASCAR cars through the 1970s but really became a driving force with his signing of Dale Earnhardt in 1981. The next 15 years saw Richard Childress racing, with Dale behind the wheel, cruising to six championships. Richard was born and raised in NASCAR Country, Winston-Salem to be specific, so it was a returning home of sorts when he added Childress Vineyards, located just a ways south of Winston-Salem, to his growing empire.

With a clean slate to start, Richard employed Mark Friszolowski to be general manager and winemaker. Mark, a native of Long Island, NY, cut his teeth in that region’s emerging wine industry with stints at Pindar and Duck Walk wineries.  Childress Vineyards has emerged as North Carolina’s preeminent winery, producing a full range of red and white wines in a state-of-the art 35,000 square foot facility.

Mentioned in this article

Comments

  • Snooth User: Tony1943
    498315 8

    Hey, you left out Randy Lewis---Lewis Cellars. He makes better juice than any of these. Pricey but not over priced.

    Sep 29, 2010 at 2:44 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 213,190

    There are more to come! I've got randy on my list, he is the real deal.

    Sep 29, 2010 at 2:49 PM


  • Certainly applaud Jeff G. for choosing an outstanding winemaker for his label. Childress has his winery in Lexington, NC (most notably known for BBQ until he arrived on the scene) and he did an outstanding job with the facility. You could take it and put in anywhere in Napa or Sonoma and it would fit right in.

    Sep 29, 2010 at 4:04 PM


  • Snooth User: zy1118
    485741 16

    I can vouch for Childress. Surprisingly good wine, and a fun afternoon destination. My wife and I had a great time there and wish we could have lounged in the yard and listened to the live band all day...

    Sep 29, 2010 at 4:05 PM


  • Enjoyed a nice visit to Andretti in 2004 and again in 2008. Not only nice wines, but a beautiful small property and welcoming house staff. Just wish I hadn't broken that souvenir glass.....made a glass of wine with the race taste that much nicer.

    Sep 29, 2010 at 5:40 PM


  • Snooth User: Gavilan Vineyards
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    517320 40

    As a former racer myself I cannot tell you how many of the racers are into wine. The list is astonishing. The ones mentioned here are the most well known ones.
    Not just having learned how to burn fast deep holes into your wallets with racing they then went on and burned them faster by buying vineyards and making wine.
    Sometime I think we are all nuts but then...we do have fun! :)
    Adobe Wines are excellent BTW. Have not tried Gordon's or Childress.

    Sep 29, 2010 at 7:01 PM


  • Snooth User: F250
    595234 1

    Great Article and that is great that these guys have been able to combine their two passions. Also agree that Lewis Cellars would be a good addition to the article. I was fortunate enough to visit Adobe Road recently, they just opened up a new tasting room on the square in Sonoma and really enjoyed their Cab. Even joined their club the "Inside Track" (which I thought was funny with the racing tie in!)

    Sep 29, 2010 at 7:42 PM


  • Hey, I'm a former racer-Drag racer and make wine. Check out our wine Westbound wine at Westboundwine.com. Dave West

    Sep 29, 2010 at 7:44 PM


  • Snooth User: BG422
    343567 19

    Tasted at Adobe in Petaluma last year -- we loved it. We're doing it again next week when we make our trip out there. I agree about Lewis, but I think that Adobe is close enough and, relatively speaking, a value.

    Sep 29, 2010 at 10:22 PM


  • Please don't forget that there is actually life and, much better, motor racing outside of the USA. I speak of Formula 1, not well served in the USA admittedly, but it too has Jarno Trulli who has his own winery, producing award wining wines. I would suggest that for the world at large he is somewhat better known than all but Mario Andretti from your list above... Keep up the good work but please don't fall into the usual trap of most from the USA that the world stops at your borders. That said of course most people outside of the USA fall into the trap of thinking that motor racing is Formula 1 - but much more exiting, and inclusive, events are outside that sphere.

    Sep 30, 2010 at 4:47 AM


  • I agree with peter bowyer. I have tasted Trulli wines- and they are fabulous.
    US wines pale in comparison

    Sep 30, 2010 at 9:26 AM


  • Snooth User: Styxdvr
    419134 30

    I've had the Lewis Merlot before, it was excellent.

    Sep 30, 2010 at 11:16 PM


  • Snooth User: swimdad
    474451 31

    I love the Andretti cabernet, just finished the last bottle from our cellar yesterday, and haven't seen any in my neighborhood for over a year.

    Oct 24, 2010 at 10:35 PM


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