L.A. Restaurants Like Kettle Black Start Pouring 'Arrow' Star Stephen Amell's Dude-Friendly Wines
He's also a savvy celebrity entrepreneur who understands the power of social media. So when launched his Nocking Point wine company in 2012, he used Facebook to jumpstart the business.
Amell and business partner Andrew Harding started with 140 cases of wine they had commissioned. Amell remembers getting on Facebook one night and posting that Nocking Point was ready to sell wine.
"I think that Drew would admit in retrospect that he was dubious," Amell says. "I posted something around 9 o'clock. I got a call from Drew around 11:30. He's yelling, 'It's selling out as we speak!'"
Amell, who has more than 5 million Facebook followers, more than 4.5 million Instagram followers and more than 2 million Twitter followers, has kept the momentum going. After launching with à la carte sales, Nocking Point started a wine club that's grown to around 7,000 members and has close to 7,000 people on its waiting list.
And last Wednesday, Nocking Point's wines started being served in four Los Angeles restaurants: Sawyer and Kettle Black in Silver Lake, Woodley Proper in Encino and Harbor House downtown. Amell, whose wines are made in Walla Walla, Washington (where Nocking Point has also opened a tasting room) or nearby in Oregon, hopes to add more L.A. restaurants and eventually create a lower-priced line of wines for stores like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. (Right now, club members get a shipment of three bottles plus some Nocking Point gear for $100.)
In the meantime, Kettle Black is promoting its relationship with Nocking Point by offering a steal of a prix-fixe dinner that is available through October 5. The $40 meal includes three courses and three wine pairings.
The meal starts with Apex rosé that nicely balances the acidity of Kettle Black's Tuscan kale salad. It's a reminder that men can enjoy rosé.
"One of the most important things we've done with Nocking Point, and I hope we can continue to do it, is being known for rosé," Amell says. "The back label for our Apex rosé reads, 'pink wine for dudes.' We love rosé as much as my wife hates merlot."
For the second course, there's cavatelli with wood-fired bolognese and Pecorino-Romano. Origins pinot noir pairs well with the rich, meaty pasta.
For dessert, a plum cake with an Origins pinot noir reduction, vanilla gelato and almonds is paired with a lovely vermouth that Kettle Black bar director Jordan Young makes with Nocking Point Maja pinot gris.
This special meal is a serious bargain when you consider that ordering three courses off Kettle Black's regular menu can run you more than $40, without any beverages. Amell says he's put his wine into L.A. restaurants "to raise brand awareness." He enjoys visiting these restaurants and he's selling his wines to them at a low markup.
"The margin on a bottle is maybe a buck," he says.
Beyond collaborating with Pacific Northwest winemakers, Nocking Point has created wines with help from celebrity pals of Amell's. Jared Padalecki from Gilmore Girls and Supernatural worked on an organic Chardonnay-based sparkling wine. (Dudes love bubbles, too.) Zac Levi from Chuck put out two rosés this summer. And pro wrestler Cody Runnels just released a sparkling wine known as Dream and a big red blend named Nightmare.
Adding to the dudes-love-wine vibe is the Nocking Point gear and exclusive comic books that members get along with their bottles. Nocking Point also has its own line of micro-roasted coffees.