If you ever thought about owning a winery, you need to watch Blood Into Wine first. And, then watch it a second time and possibly even a third time. It is that good, and what’s more, it is that informative of a piece of work that watching it a second time is that valuable. And, if I did not mention, it stars Maynard James Keenan, the front man for the very hard rocking bands, Tool and Puscifer, who provides an intriguing narrative look into his own personal life, thoughts and reflections.
A Status Symbol
Owning a winery is romantic. It is a status symbol that lets the world know you have arrived. But, as this documentary tells you every few frames, it is brutally hard work. And, these days if you’re going to own a winery and grow your own grapes, you need to have very deep pockets. Fortunately for Keenan, he had a day job which provides both a good pay check (and those deep pockets) and draws attention to ones endeavors, like starting a winery.
Hard Work and Then Some
I am fascinated by wine. And, if traveling the United States like I do, I find that the winery, distillery and micro-brew business is exploding in the United States and this specialty niche shows no sign of slowing down.
But, like the micro-beer and liquors industry, these days not everyone has to own or even have access to several acres of wines. Many wineries simply buy the grape juice from commercial growers and then through the magic of chemistry, produce and bottle their own wines at their winery. I consider this a form of duplicitous business behavior and I believe wineries should not be able to call themselves wineries if they do not grow their own grapes. But, I still travel to them, sample their wares and buy their bottles. I still believe we have to support the underdogs of the world.
Keenan choose the hard route and decided to go full bore into the winery business from the ground up; buying virgin land, planting his own grapes and building his winery from scratch. Again, this seems simple enough and romantic even. But, as you watch this film, you see that Keenan had to claw and scratch his way into the winemaking business at every turn.
Animals hungry for his grapes, bureaucrats upset over the choice of his winery’s name, water rights with the locals, unforgiving weather patterns; building the Caduceus Winery from the ground up was hard, and at times very frustrating work. This movie makes it painfully clear. And, this is long before Keenan ever had a product that he could move to market.
Investing $100 Million for a $10 Million Dollar Winery
As the business manager makes very clear in this documentary, making money in the winery business is not for everyone. You need have a lot of money at your disposal while you struggle for your grapes to develop, your brand to take off, and for the wine aficionados to appreciate you.
Fortunately for Keenan, he has a built in audience and following. Keenan could bottle Arizona sand and the devoted followers of his musical groups would still show up and buy from him. In one scene of the movie Keenan does an in person wine promotion and sell at a local Whole Foods market. Local police are there in case anyone gets to excited. Women are swooning over meeting Keenan and proudly show off their autographed bottles of wine. It is a rock star adoration meets wine vender.
A Dose of Reality
If you are thinking of owning a winery, watch this film. Listen to what each person in the film says as they tell you how difficult this endeavor is, the challenges that are involved, and the obstacles one has to surmount.
Personally, I just want to drink and enjoy wine. I don’t really want to work for it. But, if your one of those hardy folks who believes in making your own mark in this world, then go for it. But, watch this great film first. Then, when you get winery up and running email me, and I will come write about you, drink your wine and salute you for your courage.