Filed under: Popular Culture, Winemaking | Tags: Arizona vineyards, Arizona winemaking, Blood into Wine, Caduceus, films about wine, Maynard James Keenan, Noise Pop, Waits-Mast Family Cellars, wine and music, Winemaking
When I scanned the schedule for the annual Noise Pop music festival in San Francisco I was surprised to see that amid all of the film festival events, there was a screening of Blood into Wine, a documentary about winemaking.
As I read more about it, I was even more intrigued since it tells the tale of a musician-turned-winemaker who is pioneering a full-scale wine operation in the hostile conditions of Northern Arizona.
We don’t often think about the worlds of rock and roll and winemaking colliding, but in this instance the connection is forged by the passion of Maynard James Keenan.
He made his mark as a musician with TOOL, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer and now has legions of fans lining up to buy his Caduceus wines (an audience member at the film screening told me that she had her mother stand in line for 4 hours at a Whole Foods in order to get a signed bottle of Maynard’s wine).
From the film (screened last night at Viz Cinema in San Francisco), it’s clear that this isn’t just a celebrity slapping his name on a bottle of wine. Keenan is living and breathing his winemaking project and talks about the similarities between making art/music and making wine.
Director Ryan Page told me that Maynard wasn’t always a wine drinker, preferring to drink beer when he was back stage at shows. When he saw that the record executives were drinking wine, he took notice and his wine exploration began.
Maynard moved to northern Arizona in 1995 and eventually began his project to plant grapes in the Verde Valley after purchasing a vineyard in 2003.
Under the guidance of his winemaking mentor Eric Glomski (formerly a winemaker at David Bruce, he’s the owner and winemaker at Page Springs Vineyards and Cellars and co-owner of Arizona Stronghold Vineyards), he started to make wine with fruit sourced from Arizona and California and began planting his Merkin vineyards in Arizona at elevations between 4200 and 4800 feet.
The film Blood into Wine chronicles the winemaking process, from planting to pruning to veraison to harvest to processing to blending and bottling.
The romanticism and spirituality inherent in the vineyards and the land is beautifully portrayed, but is also interspersed with interviews with music writers and TOOL fans, comedic interludes, and sassy one-liners from Maynard (ever the performer).
We learn about the challenges of growing grapes in Jerome, Arizona; from packs of wild boars eating the grapes to cold snaps and snow. But we also see imagery of Maynard and Eric “on tour” doing meet and greets at Whole Foods and sitting down for radio interviews about their wine venture.
Yet despite all of the fans and the rock star persona, both Eric and Maynard say in the film that “we’re not chasing scores,” with Maynard adding, “we’re like an indie band.”
“Blood into Wine” premiered last week and is now in limited release in various cities in the U.S. For those in San Francisco, it will be screened again tonight (Feb. 26th) at Artists Television Access as part of the Noise Pop Film Festival.
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