Last Call: Dan Aykroyd
One of world’s most famous celebrities answers OWP
Dan Aykroyd needs no introduction, but alas… “Blues Brothers.” “Ghostbusters.” “Saturday Night Live.” Aykroyd is one of the world’s most beloved actors and screenwriters of all time. He is a comedy legend, a Hollywood icon, a Canadian hero — how’s that for an intro?
What some people may not know is that Aykroyd is also an astute business entrepreneur. In 1992, he co-founded the House of Blues, a music venue chain that continues today.
Besides music, Aykroyd has also become known for his ventures in alcohol.
In 2005, he acquired the Canadian rights for the ultra-premium tequila, Patrón. He invested $1 million into Diamond Estates, the Canadian importing agent for Patrón, in an effort to showcase another love of his, Canadian wine.
Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Diamond Estates is home to a wide selection of top-selling VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) Ontario wines, such as 20 Bees, FRESH, Lakeview Cellars, EastDell, as well as Dan Aykroyd Wines — current wines include: Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cab-Merlot blend, Cab-Shiraz blend, Chardonnay and Vidal Icewine.
In 2007, Akyroyd founded Crystal Head Vodka with artist John Alexander. The vodka, produced in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, is quadruple-distilled and seven-times filtered, with the final three filtrations through Herkimer diamond crystals.
How did you first become interested in wine?
My father always had table wine at dinner in our small suburban bungalow. Mostly, he would buy huge jugs of Colli Albani or Gallo, which he could afford on his government salary. Then as I grew older, along with many self-respecting middle-class Canadian male college students, I would bring a Mateus Rosé on dates. The genius songwriter and guitarist Steve Cropper, who was in the Blues Brothers Band, ruined me forever with French and California heavy Cab Sauvs.
How does the wine business compare to the entertainment business?
A business is not a business and will not last unless it is genuinely founded on a product which exhibits unimpeachable quality and standards of manufacture. If the product is not the best that can be done in any particular industry, then there will be no sustaining business. So, in this way, wine and entertainment are comparable as they must thrive by sticking to rigid, meticulously supervised standards of quality assurance.
What is your opinion of Oregon wine? Can you name one (or two) that really impressed your palate?
Oregon is creating beautiful reds. Everyone talks up the Pinot Noirs, but Cabs from there are outstanding. Right now, I am enjoying a Holstein Pinot Noir.
What is the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted?
Chateau Margaux 1990 did it for me.
What would you like people to know about Ontario wine?
Firstly, unless you visit Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec or the Canadian Atlantic provinces, you will not see much Ontario wine, if any, stocked in U.S. stores. British Columbia has its own strong wine business as now do Oregon, Washington and California. But the import tariffs in those regions on Ontario wines are simply too prohibitive for proper marketing of high volume Niagara grown exports.
Best way to sample Ontario wines is to visit the spectacular Niagara terroir where you will find world-class whites, ice wines and some outstanding reds — which the industry there is always working on because, after all, the vines in Niagara are only 60 years old, not 160 as in Napa or 1,100 as in Bordeaux.
McMinnville, Oregon, is home to Oregon Wine Press as well as its annual UFO Festival, the second biggest festival in the U.S. dedicated to UFOs. As a well-known extraterrestrial enthusiast and wine connoisseur, if you were ever to meet an alien and offer it a drink, which wine would you choose and why?
Of course the Trent photo is well known to serious researchers of the UFO enigma. Frankly, I hope never to meet an alien, unless it is one of the 7-foot-tall female ones, which have been reported. For her, only the Dan Aykroyd Cabernet Franc Ice Wine would do, complemented, of course, with Ontario artisanal cheeses.