Zac Brown: Z. Alexander Brown Wines Interview
March 25th, 2018
Zac Brown began playing guitar when he was seven, and is now a multi-platinum Grammy award-winning artist. His creative passions and talents have always extended beyond his music.
A true wine lover, Zac recognizes winemaking as an art, noting, “Wine has always fascinated me because of its inherent connection to the land and the artistry necessary to craft a distinct and memorable experience.” This was his motivation to pair up with Delicato Family Vineyards and Napa Valley winemaker John Killebrew to create Z. Alexander Brown wines. Launched in 2016, Z. Alexander Brown became the #1 new wine brand that year. The labels feature the name “Uncaged,” which describes their approach to crafting Z. Alexander Brown wines and is the title of one of Zac Brown Band’s Grammy-winning albums. The Uncaged portfolio now includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Proprietary Red Blend, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Z. Alexander Brown wines are part of Southern Ground, Zac Brown’s unique lifestyle brand that is based on his strong belief in originality, quality and philanthropy. Each of the distinctive companies in the Southern Ground family, including Z. Alexander Brown wines, is created based on bringing passionate artists together under one roof to work together and create. Southern Ground’s efforts work to help develop Zac’s biggest passion: Camp Southern Ground. Founded by Zac, Camp Southern Ground is an inclusive camp serving children from all socioeconomic backgrounds, races and religions, with programs that challenge, educate and inspire.
We had a chance to dive a little deeper with the music star to learn more about what led him into the wine industry, in the Q&A below.
Where does the name “Uncaged” come from and is there any symbolism behind the flying owl on your wine label?
The owl is the keeper of the vines, and myths say it is present when the spirit is set free. The owl captures the spirit of our wines – intense and full-bodied – which are expressions of the land that they are from.
In addition to being the name of Zac Brown Band’s third studio album released back in 2012, the word “uncaged” embodies the approach myself and our winemaker, John Killebrew, take to crafting our wines.
Was there a moment in your life where you knew you wanted to get into the wine business?
Well, the first time I really had the chance to taste incredible wine pairings was at my friend’s steakhouse in Las Vegas. That was the moment I realized just how many different kinds of wines there are. It was the ultimate rabbit hole and I wanted to get involved and learn what goes into making such good wine. I love a good rabbit hole.
How did you decide to pair up with Napa Valley winemaker John Killebrew?
This is actually a funny story. The first time I met John was over a dinner hosted by Delicato Family Vineyards in Napa. The quality of the organization immediately caught my attention. I tried so many wines that night and there was not one that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy.
I actually brought one of my friends along who was an “undercover” Master Somm. It was important for me to get his thoughts on the company and to meet everyone to make sure everything was legitimate.
I have a passion for bringing music, food and people together, which is the main reason I got into wine in the first place. John had a lot of the same values and that opened a natural gateway for us to work together.
Do you have a favorite wine varietal in the Z. Alexander Brown Portfolio?
We recently launched our first white wine with our Uncaged Chardonnay, which was really exciting. I always liked Cabs, and then I realized that every wine serves a purpose – just like guitars. To truly create music, each song needs a different voice and the same is true when pairing wine varietals with food.
Do you see any parallels between your wines and your music?
Absolutely. Both wine and music are intangible – you can’t stop either one in time and examine it carefully as they both change over time. Each has a lot of tone, feeling and texture. It’s all a craft. No matter what the medium is, it all takes a lot of love, time and attention to detail to come out with a final product you know everyone will enjoy.
Earlier you mentioned the flavor profile for your wines is intense and full-bodied. Can you go into a little more depth on the wine style you were looking for and why you chose it?
I wanted to create a wine that people from all walks of life could enjoy. It was important that Uncaged was accessible to people who may not normally drink big wines, but also something that a real connoisseur could drink, enjoy and understand the complexity within it.