From Times Online
The rock star Sting – whose best known songs include Message in a Bottle – is to produce 30,000 bottles of Chianti a year from his 300-hectare estate in Tuscany.
The singer, 57, whose real name is Gordon Sumner, made the announcement at a public meeting called at Figline Valdarno, south of Florence, to "defend Tuscan agriculture and bio-diversity". "Since January I have been round the world one and a half times," he told the meeting. "When I get back here I take a deep breath and say to myself – I'm home".
The singer, dressed in a grey jacket and T-shirt and sporting a full beard, said that from the terrace of his 16th-century villa, Il Palagio, which he bought in 1997, he could see the sun setting behind the Appenines – "a masterpiece" of nature. He said that he would market two kinds of wine: a Chianti DOC and a Tuscan red based on the Sangiovese grape.
The brand names remain a closely guarded secret. However Paolo Rossi, the estate manager, said that the "Sting wine" had been made two years ago, and the first bottles of the 2007 vintage would be on the market in September. It would amount to "rock music wine" with "a bit of swing and a bit of international pop thanks to the addition of Cabernet and Merlot grapes".
Riccardo Nocentini, the mayor of Figline Valdarno, which is close to Sting's estate and villa, said that the singer was not just a "welcome guest" in the region but also a serious farmer. Together with his wife, Trudie Styler, Sting markets "Il Palagio Sumner Family" honey and olive oil from his estate through Harrods in London and on the internet.
Sting said that his concern for the environment, which initially took the form of a campaign to save the Amazon rainforest, had spread to the defence of rural Tuscany. "I always use traditional methods – no pesticides," he said. He bought the vineyards and woods adjoining his villa grounds in 2002, and employs 15 estate workers as well as seasonal labour.
A percentage of all profits from the sales goes to the environmental causes the couple support, such as the Soil Association, which promotes organic food and farming in Britain, and the Rainforest Foundation, which they helped to found in 1989.
Italian fans who attended the meeting said that they would buy the new wine the moment it appeared. "We have always bought Sting's honey and oil," Giovanni Pollastri and Lidia Di Corato told Corriere della Sera. "In fact with all the money we have spent supporting his agricultural produce we deserve a free bottle."
Sting spends much of his time in Tuscany when he is not touring, and recorded the album All This Time at Il Palagio after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. The villa grounds, which he tours on a mountain bike, contain a circular swimming pool and a giant chess board. The nickname Sting derives from the bee-striped jersey he wore early in his music career with a band called the Phoenix Jazzmen.
Four years ago Mick Hucknall, the lead singer of Simply Red, introduced a wine called Il Cantante (The Singer), at his estate on the slopes of Mount Etna in in Sicily. He said that he had bought the vineyard after turning to wine to curb the wild drinking of his youth. He said: "My logic was I would drink less if the drink was better. So I became obsessed with fine wines."
Gerard Depardieu, the French actor, owns a vineyard on the island of Pantelleria, where he produces "passito", the celebrated local dessert wine.