Ray Isle sits down with the mega-selling singer to talk about her new job as a winemaker.
Ask Alecia Moore, otherwise known as the pop artist Pink, what she loves, and there’s a very good chance you’ll hear the word “wine.” An encounter with a Châteauneuf-du-Pape in her twenties led to a continuing passion, culminating in her purchase of an 18-acre organic vineyard in Santa Barbara County in 2013; now she’s winemaker of record for her soon-to-be-released Two Wolves wines.
Most celebrity wines are branding exercises, but Moore’s is an exception: She surreptitiously took winemaking courses at the University of California, Davis and works lengthy days in her vineyard along with her team. “It’s the hardest I’ve ever worked, physically,” she says. “Way harder than a concert.” That’s worth noting from someone whose latest tour had her singing upside down in an aerial harness three stories above the crowd.
RI: I know you love music, but what started your love for wine?
AM: It was when Roger [Davies], my manager, ordered me some Château de Beaucastel for the first time. I was like, “Ah—this is not Manischewitz.” Then it’s like one of those slow-motion montages. Like one time we were in Paris on tour, and I was bored and was like, “I have to find this Châteauneuf-du-Pape place.” So I just took the train to Avignon with my bass player. I didn’t even realize Châteauneuf was a region, not a winery! We actually ran out of money, and I ended up singing for cheese sandwiches on the street in Avignon—I think I sang Édith Piaf. Finally, the record company sent a driver to pick us up and take us home.
RI: Obviously you fell in love with singing a long time ago. How is falling in love with wine different?
AM: All of a sudden, when you start to love wine, I feel like it teaches you to pay attention to life. It teaches you to pay attention to your food, where it comes from, what things smell like. Like, why did I never know the difference between a Granny Smith apple and a Red Delicious? Why have I never done a tomato tasting? Why do I not know how to describe the difference between a lemon and a lime? But I’m a songwriter—at first I didn’t have a language for these things.
RI: But now you’re a winemaker, too.
AM: I am. I’m the official winemaker for Two Wolves, our estate. It’s a gorgeous property. It was 18 acres of vineyard, already certified organic, when we moved in; now we’re at 25 [acres]. The first year we harvested three tons of grapes; now we’re up to 18. But I love that. I love physical work. I prune vines while listening to Beck. That’s why I wanted to live here. I could do this—making wine—for the rest of my life. I mean, I’ll probably be in a tutu in Vegas when I’m 69, but if I have to be in a tutu, at least I’ll be drinking my own damn wine.
RI: Family plays into it, too, right?
AM: It does. I first realized this was what I wanted to do when I was at a vineyard in France at the tail end of a harvest. I was sitting there, looking at that property, and I just thought, well, I don’t necessarily want my children to do what I do, and I know Carey doesn’t want our children to do what he does, but if I could give them custodianship of land and a love for it and something that they could really work hard at and feel proud of and do with me… Who knows. Maybe they’ll go away first and then come back, I don’t know; but what if I created something that I could pass on, that seemed really real to me. And then the more people I met who were 4th and 5th generation winemakers, the more I was like, oh this makes so much sense.
RI: Has anything been difficult about the whole process?
AM: Aside from the spiders, everything’s great. There are a lot of spiders in our vineyard. That’s the worst part. I was like, oh, I can’t wait to foot-stomp my own grape. But the first opportunity I had, my assistant winemaker was like get in there, and there were so many spiders. So I was like, I think maybe we’ll just let it sit in the press.
RI: Fair enough—that’d be a little disconcerting. Anything else?
AM: Well, my vineyard manager calls me Dr. Doolittle because I won’t kill any of the animals—rodents, I mean—in the vineyard on purpose. So I think the vineyard staff goes behind my back to try and figure out how to handle that problem. They’ve asked me many times, do you want to be a winemaker, a winegrower, or an animal activist? But, you know, at one viticulture symposium I went to there was a falconer and I asked him, look, is there a humane way to ask ground squirrels to leave your property, other than your falcons? And he just looked at me like, you are the strangest person I have ever met in my life. But eventually he said, you can try fish heads from Whole Foods. This was not the answer I was expecting from a falconer. But I went and bought probably 2,500 pounds of fish heads that were leftover from the fish that they filet, and I had them placed in every hole where the squirrels go, like the main hubs of where they hang out. That was an awful experiment. I’m kinda glad it didn’t work.
RI: What do you think the response will be to your wine?
AM: I don’t know. I’m excited, and I’m terrified. It’s been really fun to have this be my secret because I’ve never had one. I mean, I got kicked out of my house when I was 15 years old, I dropped out of school, and six months later I had a record deal. I’ve been performing ever since.
RI: Fame definitely doesn’t allow for a lot of privacy, does it?
AM: Fame ends up being its own beautifully adorned cage. Being a singer has been awesome and awful—everything I thought it could be and more. Since I grew up in a broken home, the one thing I wanted was a family that somehow would work. Then, once I had that, I wanted somewhere to go with my family aside from music, somewhere I was just as passionate about. And that’s this place, these vineyards.
RI: I just have to ask, are you going to make a rosé?
AM: I already do! We make a Grenache rosé, which is fantastic. But I refuse to release it. If I put a pink wine out first? “Pink’s rosé?” That’d be awful!