The SOMM Journal

August / September 2015

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Page 76 of 132

76 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2015 { behind the label } HAVING SEEN HIS FILMS, MET THE ACTOR AND TASTED HIS WINES, I can honestly say Kurt Russell puts as much passion into making his Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays as he does in his award-winning movies. Starting his Hollywood career at six years old in ABC's television premiere of " Sugarfoot," then moving to the big screen at age 11 as the kid who kicks Elvis Presley in It Happened at the World's Fair (1963), Russell has gone on to star in such blockbusters as Silkwood, Escape from New York and Tombstone. But one of his most impassioned roles recently has been as California wine - maker, a vocation he took up after years of bicycling through the wine regions of France, Italy and California with his long-time partner, actress Goldie Hawn. Then, in 2007, while filming Quentin Tarentino's Death Proof in the Santa Rita Hills, Kurt discovered the great Burgundian-style wines of Santa Barbara County. Shortly afterwards, celebrity photographer Greg Gorman introduced Kurt to Peter and Rebecca Work and the award-winning wines of their triple- certified Ampelos Cellars. Captivated with the challenge of creating wines to match his palate, Kurt implored the Works to teach him their craft. As a trained thespian, he was a quick learner. Consequently, the 64-year-old actor now has a boutique label named GoGi (pronounced go-ghee), the nickname for a young Kurt Vogel Russell who couldn't say his middle name. But unlike celebrities who merely slap their names on a label, Kurt is intricately involved with every step of the process, from pruning to punchdowns to packaging, with dirt under his fingernails and cuts on his hands to prove it. Every vintage is named after family members, including Lulu, a Viognier he only makes for his mother, Lou. In fact, his wines are so personal that Kurt took time away from the set of his latest film, The Hateful Eight (written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and scheduled for release this fall), to speak to me about his winemaking. Although Kurt's first vintage was a 2008 Pinot Noir that quickly sold out, the major GoGi launch was this year at the Second Annual Santa Barbara Food & Wine Festival at Bacara Resort. His current bottlings are the 2012 "Angelbaby" Pinot Noir ($75) (Kurt's nickname for his sister Jami Way, GoGi Wines' Director of Sales) and the appropriately labeled 2012 "Goldie" Chardonnay ($50). Both wines carry a Sta. Rita Hills appellation; ggrapes for the Pinot come from the Ampelos Vineyard, while, while the Chardonnay comes from three other vineyards in the AVA. The wines are currently distrib - uted in California, Colorado and Florida, and online at "I make what I like to drink," says Kurt, a proponent of long aging in French oak to produce full-bodied Pinots. "But if it has a great aroma, full body and is fruit-forward but doesn't follow through as a great-structured Pinot, then it doesn't live up to its promise. And I like to make wines that follow through on their promises." Star Appeal KURT RUSSELL'S GOGI WINES REVEAL ANOTHER SIDE OF THE HOLLYWOOD VETERAN by Richard Carleton Hacker HENRY BRUINGTON Kurt Russell enjoying a glass of his "Angelbaby" Pinot Noir at the 1880 Union Hotel in Los Alamos, California. At the Second Annual Santa Barbara Food & Wine Festival at Bacara Resort, Kurt Russell (sporting facial hair in character for his role in Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight) and his sister, Jami Way, GoGi Wines' Director of Sales, introduce the latest vintages of GoGi Wines. A portion of sales from Gogi Wines's "Goldie" Chardonnay will be donated to The Hawn Foundation's "Mind Up" educational charity for children. PHOTO: RICHARD CARLETON HACKER

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