Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rock Stars & Their Wines, Part One: Geoff Tate Goes "Insania"...

I have often been fascinated by celebrities who love to dabble in other hobbies once they feel they can finally do this without financial repercussions. As of late, there has been a resurgence of this happening, especially in the wine industry. It seems like everyone wants to make wine. Stars such as Jeff Bridges, Emilio Estevez, Mick Fleetwood, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Peggy Fleming have all become "winemakers" at some point in their careers. With the announcement a couple weeks ago that Lady Gaga was visiting Napa Valley and Sonoma and was thinking about making her own wine, I decided to delve a little further into this matter.

Back in the day, like a lot of other people my age (Oops! Am I giving my age away??), I was into heavy metal music. One of the bands I adored was Queensryche, a Seattle-based band who was "famous" for churning out these gorgeous, slightly over the top rock opera-style concept albums. Their lead singer, Geoff Tate, had a captivating, melodic voice that seemed unforgettable. I would immerse myself in their music for hours on end. Fast forward to now and what has happened to them? They've all gone on to do solo projects. One of Geoff's solo projects is wine... Dead silence. Geoff Tate is making wine? Really? Well, sort of..

Geoff's fascination with wine began during his early days with the band, back in the 80s. While traveling all over the world, he had the chance to try many wines and thus cultivated his palate. He was especially excited by the wines of the Napa Valley which he said blew him away. It wasn't until around 2006, when he began getting serious about possibly making wine. His wife's family in Germany owned a vineyard and they asked Geoff to come do some work there. It was then that he knew what he had to do. After a visit to Walla Walla, Washington and a meeting with Three Rivers Winery owners, Holly Turner and her husband Andy, Geoff set forth to make his own wine with their help. Now mind you, Geoff is not a winemaker. Rather more like a lab rat who has a say in the production and he gets to do a lot of tasting, blending etcetera. After all, the wine will have his name on it...

Geoff's first release was the 2007 Insania Red, a Bordeaux-style red blend of the classic Bordeaux grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Washington state's terroir and latitude mimics the Bordeaux region. A 2010 trip across the state of Washington proved to be life-changing for me, opening my eyes up to some of the world's best Bordeaux-style reds with huge cellaring potential and amazing price points! Geoff's wine drew enough attention that he continued production with two more releases.

Just a few weeks ago, I found out Geoff was going to be making an appearance at one of my favorite Napa Valley hang-outs: 1313 Main, a sexy little wine bar in downtown Napa. He was doing a solo show in town and decided to stop by and do a bottle signing for the 2008 Insania Red ($38) and a new release, 2010 Insania White ($25). I was overjoyed but sad that I could not be there. No matter! My friends at 1313 Main made sure I was taken care of by having Geoff sign a couple bottles for me and gifting them to me! I can't thank them enough!!

I have not sampled the 2008 Insania Red yet. As with nearly all the Washington state red wines, I believe it also has good cellaring potential and I decided to leave it in Napa with my private stash of wines as I will be moving there shortly. The 2010 Insania White is like nectar of the gods! 62% Semillon 38% Sauvignon Blanc. Perfectly balanced. Ripe with pear and apricot flavors, a slight floral character and just a hint of creaminess. What a beautiful wine! The $25 price point doesn't do it justice at all. It has a much higher perceived value. What happens for me when Semillon is done just right? I get a little explosion that goes off in my head!! It felt so good to feel that again!! With Summer around the corner, this wine is perfect!

With that said, I wish Geoff Tate the best of luck with his wine business! I really feel he's onto something GREAT! He seems to be doing everything correctly.

Where can you get bottles of "Insania"? They are available for ordering at on their online store. (Unfortunately, the 2008 Insania Red has been replaced by the 2009 vintage but I truly believe this vintage will be well worth looking into as well.) For photos of the event, please like 1313 Main on Facebook and check it out!! If you would like to keep tabs on Geoff, his music and Insania, please check out his website,

I would like to thank Geoff Tate for signing the two bottles for me and introducing me to such nice wine, my good friend Jerae Knutson and 1313 Main for providing the photos and the event. You are the BEST!!!

"You Saw It Here First"...This post was created solely for "Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk" by Grace Hoffman. Grace is an Italian-born, American-bred wine blogger/educator with an all-consuming passion for wine and all it encompasses.


  1. Quite informative and very interesting
    Grace's passion shows in her writing.
    Background and history of the subject piqué your desire to avail yourself of the products.
    Gracious in giving thanks to the people involved..
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. You also need to know that Queensryche members have not only gone on to solo projects, but have still continued to make new music as Queensryche! They have toured heavily over the past few years. I have seen them over 50 times just in the last 5 years, and will be seeing Queensryche perform in Wheeling, W VA on March 31st!