Spending your life enjoying the Californian sun while making wine and playing Rock n Roll sounds like a nice way to pass the time. Stillman Brown is doing just that, living and loving the dream. I stumbled across his strange path after doing a feature for Flush the Fashion on Dread Zeppelin.
His range of Zeppelin wines are the coolest thing you could drink next to an ice cube and…er.. they taste pretty good too! Some people seem to have it all worked out…. he does have a slightly crazy look about him though!
How do you get into making wine?
My gay porn career petered out . . . what, you believe it?
OK, actually I got to know several Santa Clara and Santa Cruz winemakers when I was working in a restaurant in Los Gatos, partnered up with a few friends and family on a private label Chardonnay project while I was a student at UC Berkeley, and decided to go full time when I graduated rather than becoming an academic/spook/politico.
The artistic and alcoholic elements were and are fascinating, not to mention being a self-unemployed drug dealer (and legal since 1933!).
How long has the Red Zeppelin Winery been going?
I’ve been making wine since 1986, though I’ve gone through a few intarnations. I’ve got some of my own equipment, but don’t have a bricks/mortar winery or tasting room.
What type of grapes do you use ?
On a regular basis, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. I dabble in Alicante Bouschet, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Grenache, Viognier, and I could go on.
Approx how many bottles per year do you produce?
Thirty thousand, with an equal or greater amount that I make or consult on for clients.
How does this years vintage compare with recent years?
2010 was outstanding for local Syrah; we got a badly timed rain last year, and the previous years have been a bit too warm in many areas. Since I range around Monterey and northern San Luis Obispo counties, I can’t really generalize; it’s a big area with a lot of mesoclimates.
What is the best wine you have ever tasted?
Oh, a couple of bottles of La Tache. Not replicable.
Do you have the best job in the world?
I’ve got two or three of them, as I throw wild parties at least once a year (enological scholarship fundraisers) and sometimes sing with the bands, though I just might be a better winemaker than singer . . .
What would you do if you didn’t make wine?
Be the worst punk rock singer in musical history. Oh, wait!
WTF is Black Zeppelin History month?
I’m trying to figure that out myself; I gave my fiendishly clever friends the Vegas Batshit Blondes the password to my YouTube account, and they run amok everytime they get an idea. (A dim schoolgirl’s idea of how to get an A on an oral report.)
What is your connection with Dread Zeppelin?
Since 1996, they’re my official innertainers. Just as my wines are only serious on the inside of the bottle, they combine brilliant humor with great, innovative music. They dress well, too.
Where is your favorite place to be?
What is the best way to get rid of a hangover?
Don’t get one. Plan ahead for your head’s sake. Advil, water, bacon . . . or the whole hog.
All this makes me wonder….. If music be the food of love, did Stillman ask God, “Can I have an extra order of fries with that?”