In addition to producing 50 songs and two albums, musician Mat Kearney is making wine. Verse & Chorus Red Wine, with Kearney’s name on the label, is a mostly merlot blend. It retails for $29.
Kearney said he wanted to make wine that was just like a musical icon. “We set out to make a wine that was like a Tom Petty song—balanced, fun, big, with a surprising amount of depth. We ended up making something better than I expected.”
The musician teamed up with the Peju family, winemaker Rob Lloyd, and fruit selected by Napa Valley vineyard owner John Truchard. We recently caught up with Kearney to talk music, merlot and the meaning of both.
The Daily Sip: Many feel wine is as important a part of any meal as the food. What's your philosophy?
Mat Kearney: They sound like my kind of people. When a good meal is paired with the right wine, they both make each other shine. I'm kind of a nut about pairings. I think most people would enjoy a much broader spectrum of wines if they knew when to drink them. When people say I don't like chardonnay, I say have you ever tried it with the right creamy pasta?
TDS: How did growing up in wine country influence your wine tastes?
MK: The Oregon wine scene has been around for 50 years now, but over the last 10 years or so it has grown a ton. My older brother Ben is responsible for introducing me to a lot of great Willamette Valley wines. He would bring home a lot of local producers and do family tastings. Whenever I have a good Shea or King Estate Pinot Noir, it reminds me of my childhood.
TDS: Before producing your own wine, what were your favorite wine regions and wines?
MK: That’s a tough question. Last summer I was drinking lot of rosé from Provence. I really love Spanish old-worldish wines. Lately, I've been drinking a lot of Napa red blends because it seems to be the wine my wife and I equally enjoy.
TDS: Is crafting a song or crafting wine more difficult. Why?
MK: Hmmm...Well crafting a wine is definitely more time consuming. I’ve never woken up and said I’m going to create a new wine today. That said, great songs come when they want. With vines, at least you know they are going to produce grapes every year.
TDS: Tell about your wine; what makes it special?
MK: When we were finished making Verse & Chorus, we all kept saying, "this is a delicious wine." The more I open it up for friends, the more I realized how right we were. We set out to make a wine that was like a Tom Petty song... balanced, fun, big, with a surprising amount of depth. We ended up making something better than I expected.
TDS: Why are wine and music the perfect pairing?
MK: They both can open you up and unlock your soul and get you out of your head. Music slips in through your ears and heads straight to your heart without consulting your brain. Wine is made of the same stuff. Both can be talked about and analyzed, but at the end of the day they are more about a feeling than anything cerebral.
TDS: What are your future plans for the label?
MK: Verse & Chorus is a baby company so we are taking small steps that hopefully build on the success we are having with our Napa red wine. We have a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc coming out this Spring. We drink a lot of that around the house so we wanted to start with a few wines that we love drinking. Hopefully people can taste that we are doing something we love and believe in.
Have you had the chance to try Kearney's Verse & Chorus? Let us know below.