Culture: As Hollywood Strikes, Kyle MacLachlan Goes All In on Wine
Last week at a sold-out event held at New York City’s Her Name Was Carmen, the intimate Latin American restaurant hidden halfway between Cipriani Downtown and the Holland Tunnel, flamenco dancers tirelessly pranced around the room. Glasses were filled with Blushing Bear Rosé and the Bear Cub Cabernet blend while the actor Kyle MacLachlan—star of the iconic television show Twin Peaks and the force behind the winery Pursued by Bear in Walla Walla, Washington—serenaded guests with a wistful rendition of Gershwin’s “Summertime.”
“I say we don’t get our inspiration from the south, we get it from the east,” MacLachlan later told the crowd. “California is not what I aspire to; Bordeaux is where I find my inspiration.”
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MacLachlan is still a working actor, with upcoming roles in Zoë Kravitz’s directorial debut and a television adaptation of the video game Fallout. But since the Hollywood actors’ union approved a strike in July, MacLachlan has been completely focused on wine, a passion close to his heart since his Desperate Housewives era.
Celebrity wines are nothing new, of course. Francis Ford Coppola is today possibly just as famous for his directing work as his winery. Johnny Depp made headlines in 2007 when he acquired the vineyard estate Plan de la Tour in Provence for his then-partner Vanessa Paradis. Around the same time, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie acquired Chateau Miraval, which makes a popular rosé. Elizabeth Banks is the Chief Creative Officer of canned wine brand Archer Roose, while Jon Bon Jovi and his son are responsible for America’s fastest-growing rosé, Hampton Water.
But MacLachlan arguably stands out amongst this mega-watt crowd. At Pursued by Bear, which is named for the famous Shakespearean stage direction and produced with vintner Daniel Wampfler, the actor is active in selecting fruit and making barrel choices. Clearly, it’s working: Several of Pursued by Bear’s recent vintages were named Editor’s Choice by Wine Enthusiast, including the 2022 Blushing Bear Rosé and 2019 Baby Bear Syrah, which both clocked in at 92 points, as well as the 2019 Bear Cub Red, which procured 93 points.
MacLachlan will soon return to Washington State to close out the summer. “I’ll be in the tasting room for a few days, meeting about the new vintages, visiting a vineyard or two and a couple of growers,” he says.
These days, MacLachlan is thinking quite a bit about his last trip abroad—to Bordeaux, in June—which took place as the SAG-AFTRA strike loomed. “[The director] David Lynch and I always talked about going, but never made it,” he recalls. “But now with nothing on the horizon, I took that time to go with my family. It was an opportunity that made sense.”
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The excursion gave him much upon which to ponder back home in Washington State’s Columbia Valley. “I’ve looked at maps and read about [Bordeaux], but it took a visit for me to understand the difference between a vineyard in Saint-Émilion or Pauillac, compared to a vineyard in Margaux,” he says. “Also the difference between Right Bank and Left Bank, the nuance of terroir and what varietal works best in what area.”
MacLachlan is spending more time lately in Pursued by Bear’s tasting room, a new addition with a bracing pink facade. It opened this past February in a former hair salon in downtown Walla Walla. “I’m glad the owner insisted I don’t repaint the exterior,” he says. “Now we call it the rosé building.”
Inside, there’s a six-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a bear, which greets visitors on the rare days that MacLachlan isn’t around. Bears adorn each of the winery’s bottles; the brand launched with Baby Bear Syrah in 2008, the year MacLachlan’s son was born. “Now I’m stuck with bears,” he laughs.
Yet, it’s better than being the face of the brand himself. “I wanted the wine in the forefront and me in the background—then, if someone did a little bit of work, they’d see this is the wine that Kyle MacLachlan makes,” he says. “But it’s really an opportunity for people to learn [that] Washington State wines are very good and improving with quality every year, [with] a low price point and a better deal than Californian wines.”
He’s still getting used to getting attention, though—at least when it comes to wine. “I remember my very first wine review,” he recalls. MacLachlan knew his wine had been reviewed by Wine Spectator, but hadn’t yet seen the review. “I opened the magazine to the reviews for Washington, and saw Pursued by Bear and I was so excited—[but] for a split second I thought, ‘Someone else has a wine with the same name as me!’ That’s how surprising it was to see my name in print. I can’t recall any reviews for my acting performances.”
Of course, MacLachlan may have his performing career to thank for his second act in wine. Fans will unquestionably remember his role in 1984’s Dune. The film was universally panned, but it wasn’t all bad news: It marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship with David Lynch. The director gifted MacLachlan a bottle of Chateau Lynch-Bages following his screen test, essentially introducing MacLachlan to Bordeaux.
One can’t help but think of a 1999 New Yorker profile of Lynch, which spotlighted the director’s superstition that only bad news comes without wine. By that wisdom, then, MacLachlan’s wine turn is certainly a bright spot.
Last Updated: August 15, 2023