Damn Fine Wine
Ahead of hosting a wine dinner at the Club this month, actor Kyle MacLachlan discusses his journey from the silver screen to the cellar.
Kyle plays innocents who are interested in the mysteries of life. He’s the person you trust enough to go into a strange world with.”
Those words of American director David Lynch about his noted Dune, Blue Velvet and “Twin Peaks” collaborator Kyle MacLachlan hold true today. Since stepping away from the big screen, the actor has been on his own pleasantly strange journey.
“Ann Colgin and I met by chance,” says MacLachlan, 60, of his encounter with the Napa winemaking doyen 20 years ago. “We were doing an article for InStyle magazine. The writer had put together a celebrity, a winemaker and a restaurateur.”
“I was the celebrity, not the winemaker,” the actor clarifies with characteristic good charm.
MacLachlan had overcome the shaky reception of 1984’s sci-fi epic Dune to become one of most recognizable stars of the ’90s as Special Agent Dale Cooper in the acclaimed TV series “Twin Peaks.”
Years prior, Colgin herself had pioneered a model of sourcing grapes from established vineyards that would see her crowned one of California’s foremost Cabernet vintners.
After work on the article wrapped, MacLachlan, a self-confessed oenophile, set out to learn what he could from Napa’s newest legend.
“I would ask her lots of questions about wine and winemaking and how she did it and why she did it,” MacLachlan says. “That’s how I slowly began to piece together the idea that I could do a similar kind of structure in Washington State.”
That idea would become Pursued by Bear. Based just north of the Oregon border in Walla Walla, the label’s titular Cabernet Sauvignon, Baby Bear Syrah and Blushing Bear rosé have turned heads in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Many celebrity wines never rise above the realm of vanity projects, but Pursued by Bear’s 2015 Cab, which MacLachlan pours alongside his Syrah and rosé at the Club on September 25, garnered a laudable 92 points from Wine Spectator magazine.
MacLachlan’s passion for grapes may have matured over time, though he can’t recall being tempted by anything else in his younger years.
“In college, it seemed to me the one sole purpose of drinking beer was to get absolutely hammered and fall down and throw up,” MacLachlan says. “I wasn’t really interested in that. Wine seemed like a much more sophisticated beverage, so I just gravitated towards it.”
With the help of Colgin and her chief winemaker, Mark Aubert, MacLachlan gradually convinced himself that it was time to start his own label. In 2005, the prohibitive prices and availability of Napa Valley land proved a stumbling block. He decided to look north to his native Washington State.
“My father was getting older, and I felt like I was neglecting that relationship a little bit,” MacLachlan admits. “I thought, ‘You know what, this wine project could serve a greater purpose, give me a reason to go home more frequently.’”
MacLachlan began scouting locations in the Yakima Valley and meeting local suppliers, often with his father in the car beside him. He fell in love again with the unique terroir of his home, as well as its sun-drenched days and cool, desert-like nights, and a brightness and layered acidity in almost every varietal.
His connection with Colgin enabled him to secure more than advice. His 12 French oak Taransaud barrels are, according to MacLachlan, his wine’s “signature element.”
“They’re rare, highly sought-after, spoken for well in advance,” MacLachlan explains of Taransaud’s tight-grained coopering. “I tend to age the wines a little longer, and [the barrels] really help to keep the oxygen out, without over-oaking.”
Pursued by Bear has outgrown its origins as a passion project into a full-fledged, small-batch winery, and MacLachlan’s visit to the Club will be his first to Japan as a winemaker. Even so, he expects “Twin Peaks” devotees to enjoy the coffee undertones of the Baby Bear Syrah while “Sex and the City” fans might be drawn to the effervescence of the Bandol-style Blushing Bear rosé.
MacLachlan doesn’t want to tell you what to drink, though. Just to help you enjoy the journey as much as he has.
“Every day, once a day,” says Special Agent Dale Cooper, “give yourself a present.”
Words: Owen Ziegler
Pursued by Bear Wine Dinner with Kyle MacLachlan
September 25 | 7–10pm