- Smooth Jazz Network
Mindi Abair: Behind the Beats (and Wine)
Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week, we're talking to Mindi Abair about not just her music, but her wine!
Mindi Abair is back with yet another hit single titled “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You” and in talking with Mindi about the new project, I mentioned how much fun it was to attend her and her husband Eric Guerra’s wine tasting event aboard the recent Dave Koz & Friends At Sea cruise. I literally learned more useful information about wine in that short one-hour event than during a lifetime of tasting wine and gained a real appreciation for Mindi’s blending of music and wine. So, here’s how the chat continued…
So, that event you guys held on Dave’s cruise was fun, filled with amazing insights and information that enhances the tasting experience like nothing I have ever witnessed. How did you get started with “Wine and Jazz”?
I've spent my life as a musician, writing, recording & performing music. My husband Eric has spent his life managing some of the worlds’ most prestigious wineries like Kendall Jackson and Mumm Napa. We literally sat down one evening in mid 2019 with a bottle of wine, a whiteboard and 2 magic markers. We knew we each had dream jobs. But we wanted to explore what our perfect lives might look like. We love to travel. My passion is music. Eric’s passion is wine. When we’re home with a bottle of wine, I’m constantly creating our “playlist” for the night based on what bottle of wine he opens. If it’s an earthy, yet elegant Pinot Noir, we’re listening to Soul music. If it’s a bright, beautiful Chardonnay, it’s Smooth Jazz. You get it! We figured we loved doing this… the only thing that would make it better would be sharing it with our friends… being together more… and having fun combining our passions to make our lives even fuller. Eric quit his job running a winery in St. Helena up in Napa. And we started our own company www.wineandjazz.com. Eric knew so many people in the wine industry. We had winemaker friends make us wines that were exclusive to us. And I would put together the label artwork for everything and brand it all musically. It was the best of both of us doing what we loved. We started shipping these amazing wines to family and friends. And about 6 months later the pandemic hit… everyone started drinking like crazy (you know you did) … I was doing Facebook live shows from our porch with Eric doing a ‘wine intermission’ and our little wine and jazz company grew like crazy.
And your website wineandjazz.com has a lot of great information on “Wine and Jazz” events, wines and more…
Our company started solely as a wine club, where we ship our wine club members 2 different exclusive wines four times a year. We expanded from there to taking people around the world in small intimate groups with Mindi Abair’s Wine and Jazz Adventures to Spain, Tuscany, Bordeaux, and Sonoma, CA. I also wanted to ‘take it on the road.’ I heard the band Rascal Flatts was throwing big pre-show BBQs for their fans. I thought… we should host a pre-show wine and jazz tastings. That appeals to me! Eric can teach people about each wine, and I can play to demonstrate the music pairing. Now we do pre-show wine and jazz tastings in front of 95% of all my shows. It’s a blast!
I particularly love the photo of you drinking a wine straight from the bottle and the look on Eric’s face… I think maybe it sort of represents both of your diverse approaches to fine wines LOL…
Eric is definitely a wine snob. He’s a walking encyclopedia of wine knowledge and loves sharing it. I, on the other hand, know how to play a saxophone… and I’m learning the finer points of wine day by day (and enjoying every second.) I love being a part of his world of wine. And he loves being a part of my world of music. Wine is very similar to music… it’s an art… there are so many intricate aspects to it … how it’s grown to how it’s harvested to how it’s made and bottled and sold. So many times, though, when you’re at a wine tasting or wine event, it’s such a stuffy environment. That’s not the case with our wine cand jazz company. We’re here to enjoy life and soak it in. I think it’s best to never take anything too seriously. Have fun with it… we do! Our tag line is “Sip generously. Listen loudly. Repeat often.”
And from your approach, how does your music (and others) pair with certain wines?
My husband Eric thinks in geeky wine terms. I think of everything in musical terms. He brought a sample home of this amazing Cabernet from Paso Robles that we ended up bottling and shipping to our club. He was getting hints of black cherry and tastes of leather and tobacco. I was thinking this wine was bold and showy… it had swagger. I thought… this is Rock ‘n’ Roll. I started DJ’ing and playing the Rolling Stones, AC DC, Aerosmith, The Who, etc. I called my friend Nick Egan and had him do a rock ‘n’ roll painting for our label. We called it Vive le Rock. I curated a playlist of 44 songs that you listen to as you drink!
Click Here to Listen to Vive le Rock
We have a wine called Vive le Jazz.It’s a Napa Valley Chardonnay, and it’s incredible. It’s bright, so expressive and complex, and you want to drink it and continue drinking it! It’s accessible... not some heady wine that only a sommelier can appreciate. I paired it with Smooth Jazz. The wine is complex and well crafted… like Smooth Jazz. It’s approachable and you just want more and more… like a classic… like Smooth Jazz.
Here are a few songs from our Vive le Jazz playlist:
Mindi Abair Forever
Peter White Caravan of Dreams
Bob James, David Sanborn Maputo
Gerald Albright So Amazing
George Benson Breezin’
Dave Koz Together Again
Candy Dulfer For the Love of You
Patrick Bradley All In
Jeff Golub Dangerous Curves
Kirk Whalum Ascension
Keiko Matsui Dream Seeker
Click Here to listen to Vive le Jazz
The various labels are very creative. Tell us about some of your favorites and how the art on the bottle pairs up with some of the wines you offer.
I love art… and I have so much fun coming up with the artwork for our wines. A few of my favorites:
Slide 1: Harmony GSM
This is a French 3 wine blend of Grenache Syrah and Mouvedre. I paired it with bands and songs that relied on vocal harmonies like Fleetwood Mac and Crosby Stills Nash and Young. My friend Nick Egan painted this label for us with 3 sets of lips singing.
Slide 2: Vive la Jazz Chardonnay
I’ve played the saxophone my whole life, but I can’t draw one. It’s too intricate of an instrument. There are so many keys and rods and moving parts. Our daughter is attending San Francisco State University as an Art major. She’s had saxophone in her everyday life for a very long time. I asked her to show me her version of a saxophone, and 2 brush strokes later, this is what she showed me. I think it’s so simple and elegant and conveys perfectly the beauty and strength of a saxophone. It became our Vive Le Jazz wine label. That’s the beauty of art… you get to see something through someone else’s eyes. And I’m so proud of our daughter Jordyn for creating this amazing label.
Slide 3: Flower Child Rose
I love Rosé. It’s such a perfect everyday wine for me. It’s feminine and fun… I paired it with songs inspired by the Summer of Love 1969. It’s my hippie wine! I created the label from a photograph of dried flowers that I manipulated to look like a watercolor painting.
Slide 4: Vive La Musique Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine
As much fun as we’ve had with so many of our labels, I wanted this to be classic and beautiful. These bubbles are spectacular. I paired them with party music… Prince, Earth Wine and Fire, Kool and The Gang, etc! The label had to reflect the beauty of this wine, and so Eric and I designed this from the ground up with deep rose gold foil and swirls.
And how can fans (both of wine and your music) obtain some of these wines?
You can buy our wines online at https://wineandjazz.com/wineshop. Usually we sell out of each varietal within a few months of its release to our members. So… get in there and see what we have … it’s always fun.
Or even better… become a member of our Wine and Jazz Membership at https://wineandjazz.com/join
With our membership, we ship you 2 new wines four times a year. We do personal Zoom tastings of every wine with our members. It’s a great way to learn about wine. Eric knows everyone. We have winemakers that make wine specifically for us. You can’t get these wines anywhere else. And he writes incredibly detailed wine tasting notes. Of course, I publish the playlist and talk about the artwork and my thoughts on the music pairing. We also do pre-show wine and jazz tastings before most of my shows, and we take people on intimate (40 guests max) adventures around the world with Mindi Abair’s Wine and Jazz Adventures featuring the finest food, wine and music you can imagine. Our members get first dibs at these, which sell out quickly!
You two also host some cool events. I believe the next one is in October in Spain!
We love to travel and we’re super foodies and of course wine lovers. We decided once the pandemic hit to create Mindi Abair’s Wine and Jazz Adventures. Our first Adventure was to Healdsburg in Sonoma, CA, where Eric lived for 15+ years. He knows so many people, and so we could really curate a priceless experience. We’ve done 2 of these now.. Rick Braun and Richard Elliot were my musical guests. Our next adventure was to Tuscany in Fall 2021. Jim Peterik (Eye of the Tiger, Vehicle, Hold on Loosely) was my musical guest, and we did a full band rock concert in a 12th Century Palace as well as visit Montepulciano and Montalcino, rent a private villa for all and soak in all things Tuscany! And now we’re doing 2 separate weeks in Spain (Rioja and San Sebastian) in October 2022. We have 2 rooms left for the first week 10/5-10. Bernie Williams (yes, the Yankee baseball icon) is my musical guest for the first week. He’s an incredible guitarist and a good friend. We’re doing another Sonoma trip in April 2023 and 2 separate weeks in Bordeaux, France August 2023. Join us at https://wineandjazz.com/adventures
How many people attend these events?
We only book Mindi Abair’s Wine and Jazz Adventures for 40 guests maximum. We’ve found that allows us to have a truly intimate experience. I’ve spent my life in big concert settings. It’s great to curate a week with a small group of people so we can all soak in the best of world class food, wine and music at a true luxury level.
And how can we sign up?
Check out our different destinations at: https://wineandjazz.com/adventures
Thanks for taking some time for us here at SJN and please keep the music and wine flowing!
I will definitely keep the music flowing. Thank you so much for listening loudly and coming out to my shows and having fun with me and my band.
My new song “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You” was just released as a single, and it’s a big summer party song featuring me and Rick Braun as the horn section! I also just released a new music video for my song “Where There’s a Woman There’s a Way.” It pays tribute to the women who brought us into this world, raised us, and continue to inspire us! It features an incredible gospel choir and I’m so proud of it.
Watch the official music video for “Where There’s A Woman There’s A Way."
Get more from Mindi Abair on her website.