Friday Feb 25 2011
Car racing champion Scott Pruett savors pace of crafting wine at his Auburn home
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
Saturday dinner will celebrate release of first Pruett vintage
Some days championship sports car racer Scott Pruett has a need for speed, other days he craves the slow simplicity of making sangiovese. Pruett won his fourth Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 31 and is one of the winningest drivers in U.S. history. Pruett has also been in commercials for Lexus and is a consultant on their new luxury sports car the LFA, which sells for $400,000. When he is not on the road, Pruett calls Auburn home, where he and his wife Judy have planted their roots — and a vineyard. The racer turned vintner is involved in every step of the winemaking process- from the ground to the bottle. “I enjoy being outside, working with the earth,” Pruett said. “Racing is so minute by minute, hour by hour. In making wine you wait years.” After living all over the United States, Pruett, who grew up in Roseville, decided the Sierra foothills would be the perfect place to fulfill his dream of producing high-quality wine. The Sierra foothills were named one of the top 10 undiscovered wine regions in the world, according to Wine Enthusiast Magazine and his land got two thumbs up after climate and soil studies. “I have lived all over the U.S. and living in the Sierra foothills is the best,” Pruett said. “There is always something wonderful about buying wine close to where you live.” The Pruetts are releasing their first vintage this year, which includes wines like the 2008 Lucky Lauren ($25) and the flagship 2008 Napa Cabernet Championship Cuvee ($100). The Cuvee was created to celebrate Pruett’s 2010 season as GRAND-AM driver of the year and each bottle is signed by Pruett. He has spared no expense in planting the best grapes and received guidance from reknown vintners such as Fred Schrader of Schrader Cellars. Schrader has created two 100-point wines and lent his expertise to Pruett because of his interest in racing. Pruett said that while they have been fortunate with the grapes their vines have yielded, if there ever were a substandard crop he wouldn’t hesitate to just get rid of them. “I do this (winemaking) because of the love of doing it,” Pruett said. “I would like for it to at least pay for itself, but making money at it is not my main objective. I want the only thing for us to produce to be high-quality wines.” To celebrate the release of their first vintage, which features five wines, Scott and Judy Pruett are hosting a winemaker dinner on Saturday at Carpe Vino in Old Town Auburn. While Pruett Wines have been on sale exclusively at Carpe Vino, this is the first time the Pruetts are introducing their wines to the public. Pruett will not only share about his wines, but also his racing career. Weather permitting, his 1995 IndyCar will be on display. “This event has a lot of appeal on a few levels. (Pruett) is one of the biggest celebrities in Auburn,” said Carpe Vino owner Gary Moffat. “He brings as much passion and intensity to winemaking as he does to racecar driving.” For $99 guests can enjoy a four-star dining experience, with a five-course meal crafted by Chef Eric Alexander to complement the Pruett vintage. Among the featured dishes is a wild boar tenderloin in a sasparilla-cabernet sauce. Two wines that haven’t even been bottled yet, a 2009 sangiovese and a 2010 syrah, will also be unveiled exclusively for guests. “It is absolutely phenomenal and exciting,” Pruett said. “My goal is to be a small-producing vineyard with just wonderful wines.” Reach Sara Seyydin at email@example.com.