There is romance to the idea of tending vines and making fine wine for a living. Many of California's wineries were founded by people who, after finding financial success in other fields, were drawn to wine country by that idyllic dream. In the early days, the winemaking pioneers were often oilmen or doctors. Then came those who had made their fortune in finance or tech. All were folks who could not only afford prime vineyard land, but the long-term investment and infrastructure necessary to build a wine brand. Nowadays, it's not uncommon to find a different kind of success reflected in the names on wine labels, those of celebrities from the entertainment industry. Name recognition and an established social media following can launch a successful brand, so much so that these are more often partnerships with existing wineries rather than new estates, per se. Celebrity wine brands with names like Trump or Dan Aykroyd can certainly inspire skepticism, but it pays to keep an open mind and judge the wine on its merits, not on the moniker. This new cabernet sauvignon from Z. Alexander Brown is an example, as he's better known as the star of country music's Zac Brown Band. In this case, the wine has some soul, with a bourbon-washed black cherry flavor and a finish as deep and smooth as its proprietor's voice.
Alexander Brown "Uncaged" Cabernet Sauvignon. $14.99 (regularly $18.99; sale price through Sunday). PLCB Item #1182.