Finale Wines Deliver Elegant Sips of Classic Rock
“It’s not about how many cases we can sell. It’s about how many palates we can wow.
We want to wow them,”
Co-owner - Finale Wines
Jonathan Cain is best known for his role in the legendary band “Journey.” Iconic songs, timeless performances and historic productions with the eighties’ top vocalists have led this keyboardist and songwriter to earn some of the music industry’s top accolades. And while Cain continues to tour and showcase his classics, he has now taken to capitalizing on another lifelong passion: wine.
Enter Finale Wines, a Northern California-based brand that celebrates the intersection of wine and music. The line presents an array of reds, with a Rosé forthcoming, ranging from mid to upper-mid pricing. Having launched successfully in the Bay Area, Finale Wines is now making its way into other markets through a partnership with Southern Wine and Spirits.
Some promising opportunity for Cain’s new concept. But you may be asking yourself where the seemingly exclusive worlds of wine and music come together.
“We begin with the end in mind. We all have a vision. It’s a very musical thing to make wine. It’s a process like song writing. It’s a creation,” Cain said. The man’s expertise in songwriting goes without saying, but far fewer people know that he has some significant ground to stand on when it comes to wine knowledge.
Cain’s family has a history in winemaking, with his grandfather producing his own Muscat after immigrating to the US in 1920. Cain got his own introduction to wine at the tender age of three, when the owner of his family’s apartment building routinely shared French bread dipped in homemade Chianti. When Cain moved to Northern California in 1981, he found himself in wine country as often as possible.
“It’s God’s juice. It’s something God created for use to enjoy. I took advantage of a good thing. I really put my nose to it and every other weekend I was up there,” Cain said.
Cain’s passion spanned beyond just tasting good wine, however. He kept tabs on the industry’s movement and noted what the major players were doing to ‘wow’ their patrons.
“I always call them artists. They refer to themselves as craftsmen. They profile stuff out of the ground. It’s insane what they do,” Cain said, tipping his hat to the winemakers he’s visited. He called out Sebastiani Winery for providing tremendous insight into the field. He called them the “Mack Daddy” of Sonoma, saying that they were “Doing it all” and that “They had a good representation of the whole gamut” when it came to wine.
Passion turned to business in 2005, when Cain met winemaker Dennis De La Montanya, Finale Wines co-owner, at a barrel tasting in Sonoma. De La Montanya, a Journey fan, asked Cain to sign a bottle for his wife. Cain went on to visit De La Montanya’s winery in Healdsburg, CA and the two became fast friends.
“I was impressed with [Dennis’s] wines,” began Cain. They transitioned to business partners when De La Montanya suggested bottling some of his wines for charity. “Thought we could do something cool to make money for the kids.”
Cain rallied Journey to launch what is now a yearly tradition that features album covers and De La Montanya’s wine with personally signed labels. Proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish foundation, a charity that Finale Wines strongly supports as well.
The charity project led the duo to think about another venture together, and the concept of a new wine line developed.
“I realized that [De La Montanya’s] palate and my palate were very similar after blending some stuff together,” Cain said.
De La Montanya introduced Cain to Daryl Groom, a winemaker and consultant that he knew through coaching Little League in Healdsburg. The duo became a trio, united under the principal of simply ‘making great wine and having fun while doing it.’
With some development and fine-tuning, as well as lots of tasting, they launched Finale Wines. Their focus is on offering a superior product made in small batches. He and his team are more interested in creating ‘wow’ than scaling up at the risk of quality.
“You’re not going to find it at Bevmo. You’re not going to find it at Costco,” Cain said. “We’re consistent. We offer our best fruit…it’s something that I pick personally every year. I’ve got my thumbprint on it.”
Their first hit was Chanconne, a Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast. Translating to ‘slow dance’ Chanconne seeks for its patrons to ‘enjoy the moment.’
“If I was on a desert island and only had one wine, it would be a Pinot,” Cain said. He saw this as a natural first step on the road to the brand’s full line. “[Pinot is a] great introduction to red wine. A lot of the wine drinkers that don’t like red wine…I tend to lead them toward Pinot Noir.”
Finale Wines has grown its production to Finale Pinor Noir, Finale Cabernet Sauvignon, Grand Finale Bordeaux-style red blend, and All Access, a Cabernet Sauvignon known for ‘VIP taste.’ Current vintages range from 2006-2010. The group is also launching a Rosé in the near future, hopefully in time for Thanksgiving.
“It’s one of my favorites with turkey and stuffing,” Cain said. “Rosé is really making a comeback. We just put together a barrel and are very excited about it.”
The line has seen success in the restaurant sector, with its retail presence limited to one-off events without any long-term shelf contracts. Cain was content with these limits to maintain their quality focus.
“We don’t have plans to go that big. We like keeping it where it is,” he said. “We’ve developed great relationships with our clients and I love that…We love our [sommeliers]. We may grow a little bit but right now it’s about the relationships we have.”
For more information visit Finale Wines at www.finalewines.com.