“Blood Into Wine” puts Arizonan wine center stage

Musician Maynard James Keenan takes his performance from the stage to the vineyard in this new documentary

The list of musicians that have turned their hand to producing wine includes names like Dave Matthews, Madonna, Vince Neil and Cliff Richards, so it’s not a shock that Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of the metal band Tool, has joined this illustrious collection. But while many celebrities will lend their name, money and ‘vision’ to a brand, few take part in the day-to-day business of the vineyard, but Maynard is different and the new documentary film Blood Into Wine gives audiences a backstage pass.

If you know anything about Tool (and I didn’t before watching the film) you will know that Maynard (who is also the front man for A Perfect Circle and Puscifer) is a bit of a ‘character’. He’s been on stage in nothing but skin-tight shorts and a mohawk, head banging to lyrics such as “I am the demon cleaner who saves the day”, so juxtapose that image with the one portrayed in the film of a comic wit shielded by a pokerfaced façade, shoveling soil and planting vines by hand in the middle of the Verde Valley – one of north-central Arizona’s most arid areas – and things start to get interesting!

Blood Into Wine chooses not to focus on the story of band front man and his unassuming hobby, instead it is an honest, clever, amusing glimpse into the everyday life of a winemaker and all the passion and dedication that is intrinsic to that title. While it may not be the latest Will Smith summer blockbuster, Blood Into Wine has a charm of its own and is a film that delves deeper than simply producing wine and looks into the universal desire to live our passions and make our dreams become real, while on a journey of self-discovery and understanding.

Maynard felt a strong connection to the ruggedness of Arizona and in this most parched, unsuspecting landscape, started planting vineyards and making wine in the mid-90s. Life in the vineyard is the antithesis to the life a rockstar leads on the road, but the peacefulness of the vines is much more preferable to Maynard than the raging parties of a national tour. He’s happy to hide behind the label of his wine and let the liquid sing for him.

Caduceus (the name of Maynard’s wine) would not have been possible without the help and collaboration of Eric Glomski, Maynard’s winemaking partner and the man behind the award-winning Page Springs winery. Together Maynard and Eric collaborate on wines under the label of Arizona Stronghold, but consult with each other on their own individual projects as well. Eric had been making wine in California for David Bruce Winery but has found his home in Arizona. Eric is as down to earth as any farmer you could imagine, but it is his imagination and undaunting passion to create the best possible wines from a most surprising terrain that makes him such a joy to watch in the film.

It’s easy to see why Maynard was so pleased to partner with Eric because when you hear him talk about the work he does it’s hard not to want to give up the rat race and follow his lead into the vineyard. In the film, Eric says “Arizona is my home and my wines are an expression of a place that I call home”, then later, standing next to the babbling Verde River, he says of wine “the more we appreciate something, the more apt we are to preserve it, protect it and interact with it in a more positive way”. It’s easy to admire his enthusiasm and feel inspired by him.

Apart from showcasing wines from the unexpected region of Arizona and telling the story of how and why an enigmatic rock star was drawn to make wine here, this film takes a behind the scenes look at just how much blood, sweat and tears go into making a wine. For those who have never visited a vineyard or winery and who may not know all the contingencies involved, it’s an eye-opening, enjoyable education and is one from which people who know nothing more about wine than how to drink it, will surely benefit.

The great thing about wine is the variety – all the different grapes from all the different countries made by all the different producers – and it becomes even more exciting when the boundaries are tested and wines once undreamt of are created. Blood Into Wine tells one such story. My hope is you’ll enjoy the film, become inspired to live your dreams and always try to avoid drinking uninteresting wine!

Joining Maynard and Eric on-screen are a few well-known names and faces like the comedian Patton Oswalt, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of Tim & Eric, sultry supermodel/actress Mila Jovovich and Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad) whose small part is quite possibly the funniest of the film, but you’ll have to wait to the end to see it.

Be sure to catch Blood Into Wine in select cinemas in the U.S. or on DVD and Blu-ray everywhere else, when released in September 2010.

There’s always time for wine!

Tara – Wine Passionista

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Leave A Reply (3 comments so far)

  1. Mark
    7 years ago


    Interesting article and it certainly would be nice to be able to drum up that much publicity for any of our own sites or companies simply by being famous already. Arizona is an interesting wine region, they tend to think of themselves as the 5th most important state for wine in the USA, personally I think that’s debatable and not really very important….the Erath family of Oregon Pinot Noir fame recently purchased 100+ acres and starting making wine outside of Willcox, so I think we may see the first 90+ point bottle from Arizona in the near future.

    • Wine Passionista
      7 years ago

      Hi Mark,
      I wasn’t aware that Erath has invested in such a big vineyard area in Arizona – how interesting! Very exciting to think this area could soon be ‘on the map’ of serious wine producing regions in the US! Guess we’ll have to ‘watch that space’! :)

  2. Demetrius Kennealy
    7 years ago

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