Jeff Bundschu and Rand Rognlien of Vindie Wine on the Alchemy of Wine and Music
Interviewer & Writer:
Uncorked Monthly Contributing Writer, Kim Brittingham
There’s nothing quite like falling in love.
It makes even the rainiest, rottenest day feel like one long cinematic moment. We can hardly think of anything else. We’re haunted, almost, by the sweet, clinging ghost-mist of it. Like a euphoric dream that leaves a pleasant residue on our waking brain.
I’m talking, of course, about falling madly for new music.
We hear it that first time and we’ve just got to know, What is this? We track it down, then play it over and over again, every chance we get. And when we’re away from it, it echoes through our mind.
Eventually that new shine wears off and the music becomes familiar, but by then it’s a part of us. It’s woven into our fiber, tapped out like Morse code on strands of our DNA. Certain albums become soundtracks for periods in our lives. We listen to them later and we’re instantly transported back in time.
I’ve fallen for new music hundreds of times. Admittedly, though, it happens a lot less often now than it did when I was in my teens and twenties.
Maybe this is why so many of us become caricatures of the decades in which we attended high school and college. It takes a certain discipline to stay tuned-in to pop culture throughout adulthood and not look like a joke, and most of us don’t have that kind of time.
When I was a teen in the ’80s, I remember how comical those ‘60s throwbacks looked to me, ambling through the mall in bell bottoms and hippie tie-dyed t-shirts while the rest of us rocked mullets and wrapped studded belts around our suede booties.
47-year-old winemaker Jeff Bundschu gets it. “Most people that are our peers or even ten years younger than us are pretty set in their ways musically,” he reflects. “And it’s not that they don’t love music or love the opportunity to get new music…Those soundtracks that you’re talking about often times have a timestamp on them and…as we get older, we get busier, we don’t have access to great music all the time or maybe we’re overloaded. If we’re lucky we might have some kids to tell us what they like and we find something there. But I’m here to promote the idea that you can create those kinds of soundtracks with…compelling and emotionally inspiring music by…artists that are brand-new to you, and not the stuff you were listening to 10, 15, 20 years ago.”
Discover and fall in love with new music
Bundschu and his partner Rognlien are the founders of Vindie Wine out of California. These guys have come up with a great way for wine lovers to discover and fall in love with new music.
Here’s how it works: when you buy a bottle of Vindie wine, you’ll find a scratch-off code on the back of the label. Pick up your favorite device and follow the instructions on the bottle to Vindie’s website. There, you’ll enter your code and be given immediate access to a carefully curated list of eight songs by four emerging artists which have been chosen specifically to enhance the wine you’ve purchased.
And listen — this isn’t just some rinky-dink bonus music Vindie is throwing at you to say thanks for buying their wine. This is some well thought-out stuff.
“We’ve done years of research on this (with) many different people in a room with blindfolds on, and basically have developed our own in-house proprietary pairing process that is pretty awesome,” says Rognlien. “Think of when you get a great juicy steak, or if you’re vegetarian, some type of pasta that you have with a wine that is paired with it, and when you have those two together, it just makes complete pairing sense and there’s a party in your mouth, so to speak. It’s the same thing that we’re doing, except (you are) having a different sensory experience where you’re listening to something and then you’re tasting something, and they’re coming together, and it’s a pretty magical moment.”
People can get 15% more pleasure out of their wines?
It would seem there’s really something to this “magic” of which Rognlien speaks. In an article published online by Decanter in January 2016, Hannah Seaton reported that, “A study has shown that people can get 15% more pleasure out of their wines by simultaneously drinking and listening to the right kind of music.” The study, led by Charles Spence, a professor in experimental psychology at Oxford University, matched tastes such as sweet and sour to sound properties like pitch and tempo.
“Sound can…entirely change the taste and texture of the wine,” writes Seaton. For example, she shares that sweet wines like Riesling match well with music that has an even rhythm, slow tempo, and a high but soft pitch, like piano music. Meanwhile, Italian reds pair with syncopated rhythm, fast tempo and a high pitch.
A deeper sensory experience
While the pairing of a specific Vindie wine with specific music is meant to give the drinker/listener a deeper sensory experience, the wines can hold their own. Bundschu made sure of it. His backstory includes the historic Gundlach Bundschu Winery in Sonoma, California which has been in his family for generations. He says, “The quality of (the Vindie) wines…were really important to me to get right, and make sure that they stood on their own merits independent of the music they’re paired with.”
Vindie offers a red blend and a chardonnay. Says Bundschu, “Alison Crowe, our winemaker, is a master at creating comfort in the glass.” He describes the Vindie chardonnay as having “a good acid structure, but lots of buttery-ness and sweetness.”
The Vindie red, which is a California Appalachian blend, is something different for Bundschu. “We at my family winery are very focused on Bordeaux varietals and acid and structure and age-ability and built tannins and weightiness. (The Vindie red blend) has elements of that, but what makes it really different is the fact that Alison wasn’t afraid to go toward fruitiness and brightness. So the blend even, aside from a couple of traditional heavy components, has some pinot noir in it to lighten it and to make it a little more effervescent.”
Curling up on a couch, sipping a glass of Vindie and listening to its musical match may very well feel good, but there’s yet another feel-good factor to Vindie. Says Rognlien, “Every time you listen to a song, the artist and songwriter are getting a royalty.” Plus, for every bottle Vindie sells, they give a portion of the proceeds to one of their favorite non-profits: Sweet Relief Musician’s Fund. The fund provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems. (See www.SweetRelief.org.)
Vindie is expanding into Whole Foods and other specialty retailers, so ask your favorite shop to carry it. In the meantime, you can purchase online at www.VindieWine.com. If you’d like Vindie to bring a music and wine tasting event to your neighborhood, let them know through their website.
NEW BOTTLE EXPERIENCE REVIEW & RATING:
Bright appearance, with present/full aromas of butter, chocolate and blackberry. A medium/full-bodied red. The finish is layered. Supple tannins add weight and a polished texture and lead to a bright, lush finish. An overall good Red Blend Blend from California, United States.