Country rocker Zac Brown on making wine, teaching kids to farm and what happens when you have a No. 1 hit called “Chicken Fried.”

By Ray Isle
Updated May 24, 2017
© Shearer/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Will Play For Pasta

The world is a treasure chest of tasty giblets. While we were on tour in Italy, I tried this pappardelle with wild-boar Bolognese in Capalbio, a walled medieval town in Tuscany. The way they cooked the meat, the concentration of the flavors, tons of grated cheese–I’ll never forget it.

Southern Comforts

I’m from Atlanta, and there’s a ton of great barbecue in the area. Some of the best I’ve ever had was at this weird little gas station in Union Point, Georgia—just a little shack. That guy knew what he was doing with brisket. It was smoky and sweet and fall-apart tender.

Bitten By The Wine Bug

The first time I really experienced amazing wine pairings was at my friend Emeril Lagasse’s steakhouse in Las Vegas. I started to realize just how many different kinds of wine there are. That is one of the ultimate rabbit holes you can disappear down. And I love a good rabbit hole.

Mix Master

For my Z. Alexander Brown wines, I worked with winemaker John Killebrew from Delicato Family Vineyards, and it was like hanging with Mr. Wizard. He and I blended all the components of the wine until we got the flavor just right.

Friend Of A Farmer

At our Camp Southern Ground in Peachtree City, Georgia, we have kids from all different backgrounds integrated together. We’ve got a four-acre organic farm on the property, so we get them pulling up vegetables out of the dirt. For some of these kids, it’s the first time they’re seeing where vegetables come from.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

So, just imagine, the first song you ever release goes straight to number one, and it’s called “Chicken Fried.” What do you think every radio station had for us when we went to their studio? Man, that was a good solid year of fried chicken—bags in the fridge, the cooler, everywhere.