Danica Patrick is a legend behind the wheel. In 2008, she became the first and only female driver to cross the finish line first in an IndyCar Series race. Two years later, she switched to stock cars and found continued success and notoriety with NASCAR. Today, Patrick has transitioned to a new career entirely — ironically, an enterprise that thrives on unhurried movement.
As owner of Somnium Vineyard, a 24-acre estate property on Howell Mountain in the Napa Valley, the former professional athlete is bringing to bottle the bold flavors of Napa Valley fruit. California Cabernet is the sort of juice that flourishes with time, and Patrick appears entirely at ease with the pace.
With winemaker Julien Fayard at the helm, the brand is focusing all of its efforts on the storied varietal. A flagship Cabernet Sauvignon bottling, which is produced in extremely limited quantity, typically retails for around $185. Vintages from 2015 to 2017 offer great structure and a surprising degree of balance for the style. Also of note is a rich and piquant rosé.
Patrick is quick to point out that she’s not trying to win any races for biggest wine in the Valley. It’s almost as if she’s not in competition with anyone, but instead making wines that suit her own sensibilities, and enjoying the ride. Nevertheless, Patrick sat down with VinePair for an exclusive speed-round of our Lucky Sevens questionnaire. Below, Patrick shares her guilty pleasure, the one wine she doesn’t like, and a newfound natural remedy that puts her to sleep every night.
1. Do you remember your first wine?
I remember wanting a really sweet wine in the beginning. That evolved into dry white wine, then red wine, then back around full circle to anything that pleased my developing palate. [I’m] always open to trying new wines. With wine as a passion of mine, in 2009 I purchased a property on Howell Mountain and named it Somnium, which means “to dream” in Latin. The idyllic 22-acre estate sits at 1,300 feet, just below the Howell Mountain appellation, a region known for its diverse mountain terrain — and the wines, which are intense, balanced, and exquisitely structured.
2. What’s your guilty pleasure?
From a food perspective: chocolate, trail mix, and granola. From an alcoholic perspective: red wine. I really love wine, especially full-bodied red wine.
3. What is your go-to wine varietal for a summer afternoon?
The Somnium Rosé, of course, as it’s a great, everyday, easy-drinking rosé with bright acidity. … [It] is a blend off of the Estate property that was planted in 2011 when we began development. The truth is that over the years, I’ve come to respect and enjoy Sauvignon Blanc, and I hope [to] expand our portfolio from the Estate property and produce a white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc in the near future.
4. What [Sauvignon Blanc wines] do you enjoy?
Domestic California Sauvignon Blanc; otherwise, New Zealand, or a Chenin Blanc from South Africa. I’ve been traveling since retiring, and it has broadened my appreciation for wines from other regions.
5. Is there a category you’re into [or] learning about these days?
Two: Adaptogens and CBD. I’ve always been interested in natural remedies and learning more about them, so I’ve been taking adaptogens for a long time; and now, CBD at night to help sleep. Beam’s powder, Dream, really does work — I’m out in 20 minutes for a truly restful sleep. Topical CBD solutions are becoming more popular, with me especially after working out for sore muscles. Learning and researching natural remedies led me to invest in [Beam], as I believe in their product and it is now something I use daily.
6. How have your tastes changed over the years?
I used to enjoy vodka and soda or a Margarita, but now anytime I order a cocktail, I end up thinking, ‘Why didn’t I just order a glass of wine?’ My passion and drink is a good glass of wine. If I had a [variety] I wasn’t a fan of, I would have to say my least favorite would be port.
7. What do you drink when no one else is looking? (This doesn’t have to be alcoholic.)
A lot of coffee. I’m not a secretive person, so even if I had a secret drink, I’d probably still tell you if you asked. Honestly, I pretty much only drink three things: lots of coffee, water, and wine. My love for wine is why I started Somnium and purchased my vineyard in Napa Valley years ago.
Published: May 18, 2020