Fergie and Pat Ferguson.

A Father-Daughter Duet

Fergie and Pat Ferguson Rock the Wine World

G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S.
Fergie exudes glamour. As the lead female vocalist for the Black Eyed Peas she travels the world singing sold-out shows with sultry power. She is sexy and stylish—iconic even. And on occasion she performs a different kind of concert, to a very special live audience amid the rows of grapevines that she tends with her dad, Pat Ferguson, in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Fergie and her father have grown wine grapes on their six-acre vineyard in Solvang, since 2006. It ’s a flourishing, hand-farmed plot overlooking the valley. And with the help of winemaker Joey Tensley, they produce Ferguson’s Crest wines, estate-grown Syrah, Viognier and a red blend of Cabernet, Syrah, Grenache, Merlot called Fergalicious. The wines are dynamic and layered—much like Fergie’s music.

Fergie grew up in Southern California, where her dad tended an enormous home garden that included peaches, tangelos, artichokes, peppers as well as a few Syrah vines. Not surprisingly, the singer traces some of her fondest wine memories to sips of the wine her dad made in the garage during those early years.

I asked Fergie and her father about their shared passion for music and wine.

Laura Sanchez: It sounds like you’re a farmer at heart. What made you trade your citrus trees and backyard garden for wine grapes?

PAT FERGUSON: The Santa Ynez Valley—this is wine country and the vines were a challenge and a passion I could share with my daughter.

LS: Why did you choose Santa Barbara County?

PF: I had visited a college friend in Solvang and fell in love with the area.

LS: How do you create harmony in
the vineyard?

PF: By personal attention to all the vines—I irrigate, fertilize, prune and harvest with utmost care.

LS: I understand that you made an effort to expose your children to wine aromas and flavors at an early age. Tell us about the Wine Olympics. What inspired that effort?

PF: The Wine Olympics were a creation of my wife, Terri, and her brother, Jack; we would have guests blind taste a variety of wine and they’d have to guess the varietal. We even had a trophy for the winner! We all loved wine and competition, so it worked and was a fun way to learn more about wine.

LS: Fergie, how did that exposure inform your palate and influence your wine preferences?

FERGIE: My parents, Terri and Pat, were always discussing wine at the dinner table, educating my sister and me on different varietals and how different regions produce different styles of wines. By having a better understanding I learned to appreciate wine and what I liked.

LS: What is the best food and wine experience you’ve ever had?
Why was it so memorable?

F: I think that it clearly has to be one of the amazing family gatherings my family has had at holidays and special occasions over the years. When my mom would cook her famous turkey lasagna and my dad would uncork a couple of great bottles of red and my sister Dana and I would spend hours talking with my parents and our family, and then in later years those same holidays with our husbands there, and now amazingly with our own children there. There is no restaurant or event in the world that has been able to match the experience that comes from being in a house full of your family and loved ones. The food and wine taste exponentially better!

LS: Was there an epiphany wine that sparked your desire to produce your
own wine?

F: Funny enough, it was my dad’s own juice that he would make from the Syrah grapes that was really delicious when I was a kid. As I became an adult, memories of that kind of sparked the dream to take it to the next level. As far as discovering a great red as an adult, it was going to dinners with Jeff Fahey [actor, best known for portraying Captain Frank Lapidus on the ABC series “Lost,” starred in the 2007 film Planet Terror with Fergie] and friends in the ’90s. Jeff would ALWAYS order Opus One for the table and I fell in love with it.

LS: When do you enjoy sharing your wines with others?

F: I share my wine whenever I get a chance, I am very proud of the wines my dad produces. When guests come over the only wine I pull out of the wine fridge is Ferguson Crest.

LS: Do you ever sing in the vineyard?

F: On occasion, yes, that has certainly happened… and as a side note, it’s also the place where my husband, Josh, proposed to me!

LS: Do you have a favorite toast?

F: I use them all, from all of the international toasts like “Saude” from Brazil or “Salud” from France or “Salute” in Italy. I have also used “Cheers” and I’m even embarrassed to say I’ve said, “Bottoms up” once or twice in my life.

LS: Pat, what are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced
as a wine grower?

PF: The greatest challenge is the continuing drought in California.

LS: What is your most useful piece
of equipment? Why?

PF: The most useful piece of equipment is my Gator mobile, which is a John Deere mechanized tractor—
I use it to get around the vineyard and up and down the hill—very essential! The other thing I need all the time are my pruning clippers—I’m always pruning.

LS: What do you find most satisfying about farming?

PF: The most satisfying part of grape farming is the harvest—seeing a year’s toil come to fruition.

LS: What’s it like to collaborate on this project with your daughters?

PF: My two daughters have become an integral part of the operation—it helps create a very unique bond that is extremely rewarding. Dana is the analytical one, so it’s great for the business side of things, while Fergie is the creative one.

LS: Based on conversations you’ve had with Joey (Tensley, winemaker), do you feel there are similarities between making wine and making music?

F: Yes, making wine and music are both true art forms and take an artistic approach. Music starts with lyrics and winemaking starts in the vineyards—both require passion.


Wine and Music Pairing

The 2013 Ferguson Crest Viognier has apricot, honeysuckle and peach notes. “I Gotta Feeling” is as refreshing as the wine’s mineral-driven finish.

The 2012 Fergalicious of course pairs with its namesake track, “Fergalicious,” because of its sexy complexity.

The 2012 Ferguson Crest Syrah is spicy with black pepper, graphite, chocolate and cassis. Its richness makes it ideal for “Glamorous.”


 

Laura Sanchez is a Santa Barbara–based wine writer whose work appears in an array of print and online publications. Laura@Nectar-Media.com
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Categories Beverage Spring 2015
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