Many famous people, like Francis Ford Coppola, have taken their seemingly endless funds and branched out into other ventures, including wine making. Did you know a number of race car drivers have been bitten by the wine bug as well? Here is a look at five celebrity race car drivers that also have their own wines.
1. Mario Andretti — Andretti Winery
Located on a side street, off Highway 29 in Napa, California, Mario Andretti has a beautiful Tuscan themed winery that produces some excellent wines. Founded in 1996 by Mario Andretti and his longtime friend, Joe Antonini, former Chairman and CEO of KMart Corporation, Andretti Winery showcases the Italian lifestyle and superb wines.
Andretti Winery features a large portfolio of red, white, and dessert wines, all classified into three series — Montona Reserve, Napa Valley, and Selections. Bob Pepi is the Consulting Winemaker who has many years in the wine business.
Andretti Winery is open daily for tastings. Please see the Andretti Winery website for more information on visiting the tasting room or ordering wines online.
2. Richard Childress — Childress Vineyards
Richard Childress came from the NASCAR world and is the current team owner of Richard Childress Racing (RCR) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he returned to his “roots” by opening a vineyard in the Yadkin Valley AVA.
Mark Friszolowski is the winemaker, previously receiving acclaim for his work with Pindar Vineyards in Long Island. He has won hundreds of awards for his wines, helping to put New York State on the winemaking map. Now, he is working to establish North Carolina as the next star for East Coast wines.
Like Andretti Winery, Childress Vineyards has a tasting room open to the public. For more information, please see the Childress Vineyards website.
3. Jeff Gordon – Jeff Gordon Wines
This NASCAR favorite certainly needs no introduction. Practically a household name, even to those who are not NASCAR fans, putting Jeff Gordon on a bottle of wine is bound to equal success. Gordon enlisted well-known winemaker Joe Briggs from August Briggs Winery in Calistoga, California to make his wines. Ironically, although the wines are produced in Northern California, they are primarily only available in Charlotte, North Carolina!
For those wanting to try Jeff Gordon Wines outside of North Carolina, either order online or stop by Buffalo’s Shipping Post in Napa to purchase in person.
4. Randy Lewis — Lewis Cellars
Randy Lewis, III is a five-time starter of the Indianapolis 500. Since his departure from racing, he has been busy producing wines in the Napa Valley. He established the winery in 1992, along with his wife, and they were later joined by their son Dennis in 1999. The winemaker is Brian Mox who has worked with such prestigious Napa wineries as Stag’s Leap Cellars and Laird Family Estate.
Although they are in the Napa Valley, Lewis Cellars is unable to accommodate tours, tastings, or visits to the winery. Check out their website to order direct.
5. Kevin Buckler — Adobe Road Winery
Kevin Buckler is probably best known for his founding of the The Racer’s Group (TRG) that manufactured and distributed performance Porsche parts, while also building a career as a sportscar racer and team owner.
In addition to developing The Racer’s Group into an internationally recognized racing team, he also handcrafts some very limited production wines from premiere vineyards in both Sonoma and Napa counties. What started as some “garage winemaking”, Kevin has grown into a full winery with tasting rooms in Sonoma and Petaluma, along with distributors in 12 other states.
Please see the Adobe Road Winery to make tasting room reservations and buy wine online.