By Rick Riozza

From its inception, this CV Weekly column has always referred to the brave new wine world ethos as playing the game of wine. Well—guess who just joined in the wine game, that’s right: the brave new world man-about-town, man of many hats, Snoop Dogg.

And who knew the Doggfather was a wine connoisseur! Indeed, gin and juice aside, wine may well be his second choice over all of the world’s offered inebriates.

Just last week, Snoop Cali Red made its nationwide debut with the Australian-based wine company and its now-famous brand, 19 Crimes. Many of you already know of the 19 Crimes brand concept which reflects back to the 1800s when England would banish people convicted of crimes to the Australian continent—the entire country was a prison colony! And the brand name took its moniker from the list of 19 crimes for which people could be sentenced to exile. And many of the “convicts” pictured on the brand label were involved in the Catalpa rescue, where six Irish revolutionaries broke out of the colony and some later were pardoned and went onto a successful life. As it turned out, “many of the convicts became the colonists.”


And as you’d expect, the 19 Crimes wine portfolio includes eight wines produced from the vineyards in Australia. We’ve all seen the labels with the prison photos of the various convicts used to sell Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Red Blends, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose and “Hard” Chardonnay. As you wine lovers know as well, these Australian wines are juicy fruit-forward wines, definitely on the smooth side of things, not too tannic—and some with a little more background acidity than others.

I believe it was the 19 Crimes brand that began all of the talking label apps that now appear “and speak” on the many national wine labels out and about. For the 19 Crimes label, it was especially unique to hear from the “convicts on the label” speak for themselves and their plight in augmented reality.

Enter now, rapper Snoop Dogg’s collaboration. 19 Crimes Snoop Cali Red is the first California vineyard wine produced by the company. “Snoop is quintessentially Californian, so it was only fitting for him to be the face of our first ever California wine,” said a 19 Crimes representative.

“Since its inception, 19 Crimes’ brand story has been about doing the unexpected, so it’s not so odd that it would tap Snoop to be the face of its first Cali red. Snoop, obviously, wasn’t one of the convicts who built Australia, but his addition aims to bring a more modern-day element to the brand’s wine selection.

“Snoop Dogg is the perfect partner as he embodies the spirit of 19 Crimes and what those original rebels stood for. He is an iconic figure throughout the world. He’s rule breaking, culture creating, and he overcame adversity to become very successful.”

Recently the Doggfather rapper proudly stated, “I’ve been a fan of this [19 Crimes] wine and I’m excited to unveil my ‘Snoop Cali Red’ this summer and share the experience with all my fans. It’s one of the most successful brands in the market, so I’m more than eager to bring this collaboration to the world! Music was my first love and will always be that, but I’ve always tapped into other new things that were important to me.

“Whenever I get into any project — whether it’s music, TV, film, football, or business, I want to make sure the energy is right…I’ve always enjoyed a glass of wine, and 19 Crimes allowed me to come up with the perfect blend for me. It’s strong, bold, and incredible—just like the D-O-Double-G.”

Priced at $12 per bottle and 14.1 percent alcohol by volume, it’s a red blend of Lodi Petite Syrah (65 percent), Zinfandel (30 percent) and Merlot (5 percent) aged in oak, to bring it a “distinct smoky component that also yields vanilla and chocolate.” According to the website, this wine is “full and dense, with strong black & blue fruit notes up front from the Petite Sirah, complemented by bright red, slightly candied fruit in the background from the Zinfandel—with the dark toasted oak, it ties it all together along with a slightly sweet finish.”

For you Snoop fans—or perhaps new fans, you’re in for a treat as you download the augmented reality app that creates the illusion of the label talking. Simply download the 19 Crimes app through the App Store or Google Play, and use the built-in camera to point your phone at the wine label. Hold your phone up to Snoop’s image and watch him talk back to you.

And some really great news on this new launching, 19 Crimes will donate $100,000 to the NAACP Legal Fund. As explained by the Vice-President of Marketing, John Wardley, “As protests sparked across all 50 states, over 10,000 people have been arrested nationwide for participating and breaking curfews – simply exercising their rights as a US citizen. The NAACP Legal Fund has stood up to support these people, the majority of whom are Black or People of Color. 19 Crimes was born from individuals that overcame adversity, and we are proud to support the NAACP in their fight to seek justice for people who are unfairly facing incarceration, for simply expressing the same outrage that we all now feel” In addition to their initial donation, the 19 Crimes team is working with the NAACP on a longer-term plan to provide continued support.

As mentioned above, this wine will definitely satisfy the red blend fan group, which love the smooth flavors of a fruit-forward wine. And it’s good for the over-all wine market as it will bring in the younger wine set, who enjoy the fruity semi-dry wines currently, and eventually move on to the more complex reds.

“Toast to success and nothing less”Snoop Cali Red has dropped. Cheers!