February 26, 2009
Maynard James Keenan: better to see in concert than get a bottle signed?

Did anyone make it to Whole Foods Market last week, when Maynard James Keenan from the rock band Tool signed bottles of his wines? I missed it and was curious ow this turned out. The backstory: Keenan is the vintner behind two wine labels: Arizona Stronghold Vineyards and Caduceus Cellars/ Merkin Vineyards. Sacramento was a stop on a bottle signing tour with winemaker Eric Glomski, and you can read more about all this in my interview with Keenan.

It sounds like it was a veritable mosh pit of wine buyers and Tool fans. Tere Romo of Sacramento sent this e-mail, and here's her take on the event:


"The wine signing event was a memorable experience, though I had mixed feelings about it. I went with my niece (19) and nephew (31) who are also avid fans. Who else would be up so early and in the first of three lines at 6:45 a.m.? And there were already 21 fans ahead of us. It paid off, though because when we got back for the wine selling line in the afternoon, we got through quickly and then went to wait for the actual wine signing line.

"I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the event in that you actually felt like you're part of a Tool family/nation no matter your age or gender...By the time we emerged from the signing, the Whole Foods parking lot had been taken over by Tool fans. It was after 5 p.m. and there were still lots of people in lines to both buy and sign.

"We got a case of Chupacabra (from Merkin Vineyards) between my nephew and I and had them all signed. I just wish that Maynard had been more pleasant or even friendly. I know that he is not about socializing, given his persona on stage, and I was very surprised that he was doing this. I also know that it must be hard to go around the country and signing, what by now must be thousands of bottles. But, he looked like he really didn't want to be there; in contrast, his partner (winemaker Eric Glomski) was very friendly and thanked us for coming.

"Finally, after I thanked them for doing this Maynard looks up and thanked us, too. I wanted to ask him which wine he recommended for seafood since Chupacabra was the only one I have tried, but it just didn't seem like I should...It could have been that his placement in the store wasn't the greatest (way in the back and pretty cramped) or he was tired after signing bottles for over 600 in Fresno the day before...but it was disappointing. In the Bee article, he came off as really trying to entice new converts to his wine, but then acted totally disinterested. Too bad, because I don't think that it will help his wine sales in the future."

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