Celebrities and fine wines sound like they would go well together because of their mutual glamour quotient. But their association can go far beyond simply endorsing or selling wines, such as Gordon Ramsay’s involvement with Château Bauduc of Bordeaux in 2009. There are in fact more celebrities in the wine business today than you might know, trying their hands at everything from investing in wine and owning vineyards to brewing their own vintage.
For example, Hollywood A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio recently became the latest celebrity to enter the fine wine business with a financial investment in Champagne Telmont. As an alternative asset, fine wine makes for an attractive investment option and celebrity wine investments are not cut off from these benefits.
Why are celebrities investing in wine
We see celebrities investing in wine for a varied number of reasons. Launching or buying a winery can appear as a status symbol or a chic hobby, and often, it is exactly that. It can serve as an extension of a celebrity’s personal or lifestyle brand. But it can also offer some tax benefits, as with nearly any business. So, while some celebrities such as David Beckham and Johnny Depp purchase wineries solely for their personal use, many more use their wine investments as a lucrative business venture, using their name and fame as a marketing tool for their wines.
In the case of celebrities like legendary Hollywood director Francis Ford Coppola, winemaking is going back to their family legacy. Coming from a family that made wine as a longstanding tradition (Coppola’s uncle and grandfather and uncle used to make wine in their apartment basement in New York), acquiring an estate and starting a celebrated winery brand seem like expected, albeit expensive, next steps.
Leveraging stardom to sell fine wine
The Francis Ford Coppola Winery puts the convergence of celebrity and wine into sharp relief. For example, the fine wine estate includes a mini-museum filled with memorabilia from the director’s popular movies, and artefacts scattered across the remaining estate as side attractions for visitors. This draws much more footfalls than a simple winery would have, to the extent that the Coppola Estate faced such a deluge of visitors that they had to introduce a high parking fee to control crowds.
Celebrity wines rank high in popularity among the public and bottles tend to fly off the store shelves. Pop icon Kylie Minogue launched a French rosé during the pandemic two years ago, which sold about half a million bottles in about five months, many of them to first-time wine drinkers. It sold over 70,000 bottles in a week in Australia alone.
Spending power can be a key factor
Some celebrities are drawn to the wine business because they have been wine enthusiasts for a long time and want to do something outside of work that they can enjoy. They invest in wineries and launch their labels because they consider themselves wine connoisseurs. As industry experts explain it, “Fame brings them wealth and they can afford to invest in it.”
Celebrities can afford the financial clout needed for the investment, of say, $200,000 to $300,000 for an acre in Napa Valley. They can take on famous and resourceful partners and easily access the resources necessary for a successful large-scale wine launch. Because of these reasons, there has been a rising influx of high-profile investments and purchases in premium wine regions like Provence, with celebrities and luxury groups investing millions of euros in the Var.
Connoisseurs can sometimes be doubtful or patronizing towards celebrity wines. But notwithstanding the occasional brand endorsement gimmick, there are many success stories among celebrity wine investments that explain the popularity of these fine wines.