WINEMAKER: Smokey Robinson has ventured into the wine making business with his own label.



The hotel room was a balmy 80 degrees and people waited patiently without complaint because of the reason for the elevated temperature. Motown legend Smokey Robinson needed the warmth for his voice because the following day, it was on full, exquisite display at Jazz in the Gardens. The 78-year old crooner performed a set that was classic, elegant, at times sensual and often playful; making the room’s toastiness a minor inconvenience.

But Friday’s gathering was all about the wine – Smokey Robinson Wines to be exact. They feature a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon that lived up to its description: “Rich red fruit; nutty vanilla oak, and well integrated dry tannins; medium to full bodied.” The 2015 Riesling also did not disappoint, with its “crisp apple and citrus nose; bright and clean, lightly floral with notes of pear and honey.”

Robinson got into the wine business at the encouragement of two friends who, while golfing, suggested he consider putting his name on a collection.

Although he rarely drinks, Robinson said when he does, “I want it to be something I like.” So, he joined them for a visit to EngineHouse 25, a Pittsburg winery, to learn more about the process.

“I started to do tastings, grapes, different wines, and it took us about a year and a half to come up with this,” he shared. “I’m very proud of them.” Besides, he was not going to put his name on just anything.

After chatting about his wines, our conversation went back to his first love, music. He has no plans to give it up anytime soon. He tried, but “after about 3 and a half years, I went ape sh*t. I can’t find a replacement for performing for me. It’s a need.”

His spirituality is critical to the longevity of his music career, as well as the new venture he’s now embraced.

“I am connected to the Father, totally committed, that’s how I live my life. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not talking to God. I know where my blessings come from. I know I wouldn’t be doing any of this without His say-so.

Performing for audiences that include children and their parents, seniors and all races is “very fulfilling experience for me.”

That fulfillment was very evident during his Jazz in the Gardens performance. Robinson exuded an appreciation for what he does and a genuine connection to his audience as he sang beautifully in a voice that, like fine wine, gets better with time.

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