We’ve all dreamed of hanging out backstage with our favourite bands, sharing drinks and a few laughs. For Andrew Roper, who runs Wines to the Stars, it’s his job. And a dream come true.
For 20 years, Andrew has toured with bands, pouring Australian wines backstage and in festival green rooms around the globe for the world’s biggest artists.
He poured champagne at Etihad Stadium for Adele in March, sparkling shiraz for Guns N’ Roses in February, and he has Ed Sheeran, who likes lighter-style reds, and pinot noir-loving Lorde booked later in the year.
“There’s been booze backstage since bands started touring, but what I’ve done is stepped it up and brought the wine industry into the backstage change room,” Andrew says.
“I do a backstage cellar door and work with the band direct – I’ll set up a wine room in their dressing room and do a snapshot of the state they’re in. I’ll also bring in a winemaker or winery owner. I brought Oakridge to the Queens of the Stone Age recently and poured their wines.”
Andrew Roper with Paul Stanley of KISS:
The key to the success of Wines to the Stars isn’t actually the wines Andrew pours, but the stories and people behind the wines.
“The wines have to have a story,” he says. “I took AC/DC to Langmeil in the Barossa on their last tour and they were floored by the fact they were walking among the oldest shiraz vines in the world.”
Andrew often fields calls from bands before they announce tour dates so they can plan their tour around him and have days set aside for wine tours.
“A lot of artists have been touring Australia for years but they haven’t gone out of their hotel rooms,” he says. “Now they’re looking to go to different regions.”
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Over the years, Andrew has built up profiles of the wines bands love. “It’s quite surprising the wine knowledge some bands have. Even younger bands are right into wine,” he says.
“I looked after One Direction on their last tour and a couple of them were right into wine – and they were old enough to drink on their last tour. Katy Perry’s right into wine, too. I organised the wines on the last tour she did and am booked to look after her wine-wise next year. She likes all types of wines, especially pinots.
“My stand out example of introducing our great wines to an artist was at the last Future Music Festival where I took care of Drake; he was not aware of any wines from here and was really in the dark as to what he liked with wine.
“He left Australia absolutely loving the wines from Oakridge of Yarra Valley, as well as the wines from Rusden in the Barossa Valley. His band also partied after the show with some fantastic sparkling shiraz I opened for them for something completely different to remember us by.”
Not all artists are as easy to please as Drake.
“Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes brings his own wines with him on tour and it’s taken me a few tours for him to try Australian pinot noir. He has his own road case for wine that he tours with.”
Andrew says: “I brought Veuve Fourny champagne backstage for Adele on her recent tour.”
Try this \ Veuve Fourny Grande Reserve Premier Cru Brut NV ($65, Champagne). A chardonnay-based champagne that is smooth, and with a nice chalky grip.
Andrew says: “They love the big reds from the likes of MollyDooker in McLaren Vale, as well as the Old Bastard shiraz from Kaesler of Barossa Valley. Sparkling shiraz is also a fave.”
Try this \ Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz 2014 ($27, Grampians). Such a reliable, delicious sparkling shiraz, with spice, rich dark-berry flavours, vigorous bubbles and fine tannins.
Andrew says: “The band’s into any Australian wines. We’ll pour good Yarra Valley wines – Yarra Yering and Oakridge – plus some pinots from the Mornington Peninsula, such as Ocean Eight.”
Try this \ Ocean Eight Pinot Noir 2015 ($55, Mornington Peninsula). Andrew will pour this fabulously layered and elegant pinot noir for Lorde when she tours here in November.
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
Andrew says: “I took Oakridge wines to their recent Melbourne gig .”
Try this \ Oakridge 864 Pinot Noir 2016 ($78; Yarra Valley). From a single block of vines grown on red soils of Gladysdale. It’s earthy, with lively, tense raspberry, blood plum and forest floor flavours. Its structure is a highlight.