For a musician whose vocal cords sound in need of cough mixture, Sting's latest commercial venture could prove most soothing. The singer and occasional lutist plans to sell red wine made from grapes grown on his organic farm in Tuscany later this year.
Thirty-thousand bottles of a Chianti and a Toscana made largely from a vineyard of Sangiovese grapes on the 750-acre estate should reach shops in September.
At the farm 20 miles from Florence, the 57-year-old former schoolteacher produces extra virgin olive oil, jams, fruit, vegetables, salami and acacia honey. In a meeting at the town theatre at Figline Valdarno, reported by the Italian news agency Ansa, Sting spoke of his love for the Tuscan countryside. "Yesterday when I landed in Florence, I gave a sigh of relief," said the committed environmentalist, who keeps a private plane at Florence airport. "'I'm home', I said to myself. I love this place because nature offers cues for reflection and animates my artistic inspiration."
Wealthy from his stadium-filling career in The Police, Sting bought his first slice of land in Tuscany at the end of the 1990s for £2m, buying a further 500 hectares for £3.5m in 2002. The estate – where he recuperates from tours when not in his Wiltshire mansion – has a swimming pool, six small lakes, vineyards, olive groves and a recording studio.
He told locals he wanted to nourish his family with "genuine quality products in a healthy environment" through his work at Tenuta Il Palagio. "Everyone knows about my environmental commitment. With this business in Tuscany I am trying to help myself and those who are close to me to live better in a natural context."
The singer's move into viticulture makes him the latest celebrity to sell wine commercially. Mick Hucknall, of Simply Red, and Jim Kerr, of Simple Minds, both have vineyards on Sicily. The film director Francis Ford Coppola makes pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon at his vineyard in Sonoma County, California.
Cliff Richard was tricked by Gordon Ramsay into declaring his own Portuguese Vida Nova Reserva "rubbish" in a blind tasting on his Channel 4 show, The F-Word. "I wouldn't pay for that," Richard complained. "It's tainted. It tastes like vinaigrette."