When he’s not touring or recording, Maynard James Keenan, frontman of Tool, Puscifer, and A Perfect Circle, spends his free time… making wine.
At first glance, it may appear that Tool fans and the viticultural elite have nothing in common. However, both dismiss MJK’s newest venture. But the 2009 film “Blood Into Wine” is a documentary of Keenan’s process and motivation behind taking up with winemaker Eric Glomski to create his own vineyard and label based in Jerome, Arizona.
Arizona, you say? It may seem as if Arizona wouldn’t be an ideal place to establish a vineyard. However, climate changes over the last decade or longer have prompted even the old vanguards of viticulture to explore wine blending, alternative marketing techniques, and the newest in soil enhancement technologies. Face the facts: global climate change has affected and will continue to affect everything we do from the regions where wine grapes are grown to how we conserve and consume virtually everything. Planetary changes have opened doors for winemaking in regions previously thought unsuitable to meet the tradition of enological quality.
Those on top of wine sales note that the marketplaces increasingly global as new competitors are getting into the game, bringing with them wines of high quality for affordable prices. Now, like always, the consumption pattern has to do with quality.
Keenan’s rockstar status shouldn’t raise a question about his wine’s quality, but we see throughout the film an underlying question about that and its legitimacy. Let’s clear this up right now: the wines produced at Caduceus are young and tasty. They’re complex and, much like Tool, uncharacterizable. Glomski and Keenan each indicate in their own way that they are making wines that they’d like to drink.
Distinguishing a product is usually reckoned by the type of product, its price and how the promoting company communicates. And communicating is something Keenan has never had a problem doing. In the film, Maynard describes the wine as something he’s trying to express, similar to his role as frontman of Tool. With regard to his on-stage persona, Keenan has been called this generation’s Frank Zappa. There are striking similarities Keenan and Zappa. However, none of them are germane to this article. With regard to wine making, Bonny Doon founder Randall Grahm was called the ‘Frank Zappa of Wine Making’ by the Sarasota Herald Tribune in December of 2008. Grahm’s vision was to make ‘wine with soul’. So Boony Doon as well as Caduceus are making wines that break with the Old World paradigm and look to explore something distinctly New World as well as undeniably hip. Name one other wine maker that’s managed to engage potential younger consumers.
That said, catch a screening of “Blood Into Wine.” Better yet, buy a bottle of Caduceus wine. Whether or not you let it age a bit is up to you. We don’t hesitate to spend exorbitant amounts of money on concert stubs but for Keenan, perhaps both wine and performing are pure expression; a concert in a bottle. Maybe slumping wine sales will inspire even the Old Guard to get themselves a rockstar.