Maynard James Keenan is attempting to do just that. After already successfully navigating the music business as lead singer for Tool and A Perfect Circle, his new venture, Caduceus, is an extension of a love he found for wine. I remember a few years ago reading an article in Wine Spectator about how he had found this profound love after trying a 1992 Silver Oak, and subsequently amassed an impressive collection of wine from around the world. Later, it was revealed that his great Grandparents and Great Uncle made wine in what was Northern Italy (now Southern France), and the stage was set for him to embark on his own winemaking project.
His canvas is the Verde Valley in Northern Arizona in the form of Merkin Vineyards. His vineyard site is composed of four different blocks with unique soil characteristics that vary from chalky sedimentary rock, to fine river sediment with calcareous substrate “peppered with evidence of volcanic intrusions”. Maynard also choose to employ the talent of Eric Glomsky as winemaker for the project, who was formerly co-winemaker at David Bruce Vineyards in California. The wine at Caduceus is produced from some 6000 vines, some of which were recently planted and are still unusable. In the meantime they have chosen to blend some local fruit with grapes grown in California from areas like Paso Robles, and the Pope Valley in Napa Valley.
The project consists of five unique bottles of wine: the Primer Paso, a blend of Shiraz and Malvasia, (a white varietal akin to Viognier); the Nagual De La Naga, a Tuscan inspired Cabernet Sauvignon/ Sangiovese Blend; the Nagual Del Sensei, a Cabernet Sauvignon/ Syrah Blend; Dos Ladrones (2 thieves), a white wine produced from delicate varietals protected from the Arizona sun under a canopy of Apricot trees; and the Chupacabra “Mystery Blend,” priced around $20. The Paso and the Naga were recently released on March 24, 2006.
The wines can be tasted and are available for purchase at Page Spring Cellars, the winery owned and operated by Eric. Considering Maynard probably has a lot of devoted fans, it’s probably a good idea he choose to separate the winery from his home. He joins a long list of celebrities that have chosen to make their own wine, but I have a feeling Maynard is a little different. His passion has put him on the front line in the vineyard and the cellar, and I doubt other celebs have had the same intense interest in their own projects. In his diary entries on the website, you can catch a glimpse of this mans devotion to his wine when you see pictures of him sealing bottles with wax and embossing them by hand, driving the tractors, or planting the vines. Now that my interest is peaked, I need to get my hands on a bottle or two.
Visit the website for more information and photos.
Update: The online store is now open (but will probably sell out soon).