October 6, 2017

Audio oenophile: Musician Myra Flynn partners with winery

Musician Myra Flynn has partnered with Shelburne Vineyards to market a wine named for her. PHOTO BY JACK ROWELL

Vermont-born, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Myra Flynn says she’s never liked selling merchandise, as so many music artists do to boost their bottom line.

“I don’t like it,” said the West Brookfield native with a laugh during a recent phone interview from her father’s house in North Fayston.

Sure, she has sold plenty of CDs — in fact, she’s thrice sold out of her three albums to date (2013’s “Half Pigeon;” 2011’s “For the Record;” and 2009’s “Crooked Measures”). And her ambitious fourth album, which she described as a more polished commercial pop recording made in L.A. with multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning executive producer Jared Lee Gosselin, is poised to make an impact on a larger scale upon its forthcoming release in December.

“But I don’t like T-shirts,” said Flynn. “I don’t want my face on one. I’m not especially committed to a font or logo. I don’t have any confetti or candy for anyone.”

What she does like is wine, though, a passion that gradually developed out of her love for playing at vineyards and other wine-based venues. Four years ago, she created the annual Vermont Fall and Wine tour, which she has since expanded to include California vineyards in Napa Valley and Santa Monica.

“The people who were drinking wine would come up to me after shows, crying beautiful tears — not sad ones — of just the emotions of the music and the willingness to go deeper and just be vulnerable and emotional,” she said of the shows. “There’s something about wine that opens me up in that way, too. I love to have a glass when I’m songwriting. And it’s always red. It’s just this beautiful opening agent.”

So Flynn approached Ken and Gail Albert of Shelburne Vineyard, a pioneering Vermont vineyard where she has long performed and been a big fan. “I literally said something like, ‘I think the Real Housewives get to have a wine. Why don’t I get to have a wine?’” she recalled with a laugh. “I have a genuine love for it. So we had a series of meetings and tastings and desires, and now I have a wine.

“It’s really awkward, because I feel like people are super confused — music and wine? And I want to take that time to explain to them how it all ties together for me,” said Flynn. “But at the same time, it’s fine if it’s confusing because, in general, I would just like to have a brand where I get to continue to put things out into the world that I enjoy. I’d rather be doing that than making T-shirts.”

The winery is also excited.

“We’ve just developed a really warm, personal relationship with her. And when she asked us, we were delighted,” said Gail Albert, the winery’s director of marketing, about the partnership. “It’s something we haven’t done much before. But it was something that was worth trying, and we love being associated with her and the image that she’s created. I think it will be good for both of us.”

The wine, “Flynn,” is a 2015 dry red from the Marquette grape, a Pinot Noir hybrid that does well in cold climates. Shelburne Vineyard’s Marquette wine has been praised by the likes of Food & Wine and Bloomberg, the latter calling it “a revelation” that’s “well-composed and bursting with fruit flavor.”

Shelburne Vineyard founder Ken Albert describes “Flynn” as “one of our good red wines from the Marquette grape, which is our flagship red grape. So it should attract some interest.”

Flynn designed the label with Steve Redmond of Hinesburg design studio Rival Brands — adding graphic design to her growing list of talents, which also includes a jewelry line that she makes out of used piano parts. Flynn will promote the wine at her shows and on her website. Shelburne Vineyard, which will also carry the wine, will fulfill the orders for Flynn and handle the distribution. Both parties will share the proceeds.

The wine will make its official debut at a concert by Flynn on Oct. 13 at Shelburne Vineyard, the day before Flynn’s wedding there to fellow Vermont native Phil Wills.

“They hope to expand into new avenues and venues,” said Flynn. “And I’m hoping that, too. I’m a musician, and I have easy access to people who are probably not going to think I’m just some random wine distributor. I’m going to be, like, ‘You guys, it’s my rock star wine. And I’m excited about it.’ And I’m excited for that.”

“What’s in it for me?” added Flynn. “Branding, marketing. The ability to do something I love and enjoy. Feel like an adult. Just try something completely new. I make my living doing the things that I like, and the wine is a part of that. So I feel really blessed. I feel really, really lucky.”

“She has a fan base and it’s something to excite them, and we reach an audience we might not reach with our wines, because she’s doing this under her name,” said Gail Albert. “She’s tireless and enthusiastic and warm and friendly. She’s a wonderful person that we’re really proud to be associated with.”

Flynn, for her part, admitted to being “way out of my depth” in terms of promoting this new venture. But she’s clearly embracing “this whole other world,” as she describes it.

“I’m still learning, a lot, and I’ll continue to learn more. But first things first: we gotta get this wine out into the world and throw a giant party, and I’m going to sing at that party. And then I’m going to marry the man of my dreams the next day. And it’s all just sweet. It’s a lot to look forward to.”

Myra Flynn performs Friday, Oct. 13, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Shelburne Vineyard, 6308 Shelburne Road, Shelburne. Tickets are $10. More information is available at www.shelburnevineyard.com. Flynn wine will be available via Shelburne Vineyard and at Myra Flynn concerts. Learn more about Myra Flynn at www.myraflynn.com.


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