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There’s nothing desperate about Kyle MacLachlan. As he tells Fiona Sims, he’s fallen in love with making wine on his home territory of Washington State
Kyle MacLachlan is mad about wine. In fact, the Hollywood actor, who plays
Orson Hodge (Bree’s husband with a dark past) in the TV series Desperate Housewives, loves it so much he has
started to make it himself. If he’s not on a Hollywood set or at home in New York, he’s likely to be getting his hands dirty in the cellar.
He hooked up with Washington State winemaker Eric Dunham a few years ago, as friends at first but then helping out. Dunham now helps MacLachlan make his own wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon, from his winery Dunham Cellars
in Walla Walla. Called Pursued by Bear, the first vintage was 2005 (the current release), with the 2008 still
in barrel. MacLachlan plans to make another this year, a 100% Syrah called Baby Bear. It’s a homage to his nine-month-old son, Callum, his first child, whom he mentions
MacLachlan hails from Washington and spends two months a year there,
visiting his family and working in the cellar with Dunham. And he really does get stuck in, even during harvest if his filming schedule allows. He particularly likes visiting growers – Dunham buys
in his fruit – to see how his grapes are doing.
His investment at Dunham’s winery includes buying the barrels for his wines (he prefers French oak) and buying the grapes. ‘This is not a money-making exercise.
I put in whatever money it needs and I certainly don’t make it back,’ he says. ‘But that’s not why I’m doing it.’
The first great bottle of wine that MacLachlan ever tasted was a 1982 Lynch-Bages – ‘a gift from David Lynch after my audition for the movie Dune,’ he
MacLachlan is perhaps best known for his part as FBI agent Dale Cooper in Lynch’s groundbreaking TV series Twin
Peaks, for which he received a Golden Globe. Then there was the starring role for two seasons in Sex and the City as Dr Trey MacDougal. His latest project
is the film Manure, a comedy set in 1960s Kansas about two men – played by MacLachlan and Billy Bob Thornton –
fighting over the manure business. It will be released in the UK later this year.
MacLachlan seeks advice from sommeliers when it comes to choosing wines in restaurants. Left to his own devices, he admits he tends to stick with what he knows.
‘My expertise is Washington and California, though things are moving so quickly there it’s hard to keep up, with new wines coming out all the time,’ he says.
Washington State, in particular, will have its day soon, he reckons. ‘It’s California’s little brother. But I think it will shoot up quickly. It’s still a bit Wild West – young winemakers trying different stuff, working out what their vineyards do best,’ he says. Among his favourite producers in Washington are Hugh Shields at DuBrul and Sheridan Vineyard, both in Yakima, and Agate Field north of Zillah.
He describes his wine cellar at home (he calls New York home, but also has
a house in LA) ‘an overstuffed room under the stairs with a small Breezaire cooling unit’. It is packed with Washington wines, plus some 1995 Bordeaux that he reports are drinking well now, including
Cos d’Estournel and Pichon Lalande (though he’s not so keen on the Talbot). He also has some top Napa reds from the
late 1990s ‘that need to be set free from their wooden cases’, among them Colgin Cellars and Harlan Estate.
His latest passion is Australian wine, declaring that he can find pleasure in a $6 bottle of Aussie red. ‘When I was filming in Sydney last year I went on a mad
tasting of Australian wineries. There are some great wines, and the names are unusual, which makes them easy to remember after a few glasses!
‘I used to walk into a winery and say: “Oh, look at that nice barrel”. Now I’m asking: “How often are you racking?”, “What percentage of new oak are you using?”. I
haven’t got into the viticulture side of things yet, but I’ll get to that,’ he promises.
Pursued by Bear Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Columbia Valley,
Washington. A collaboration between Eric Dunham and Kyle MacLachlan. Ripe, plummy nose with hints of liquorice, mint
and roast peppers. Surprisingly smooth tannins and balanced acidity, vanilla character on the finish.
Editorial feature from Square Meal Lifestyle Magazine Autumn 2009