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NASCAR and Wine Buddy Up Further

You may consider NASCAR to be the domain of tank tops, bad hairdos and beer drinking. Oh, come on NASCAR has been mixing wine, beer and whisky on the circuit for years! The inclusion is mutually beneficial to all parties...

Never the less one Napa Valley wine producer (not to mention Richard Childress and Mike Skinner–see below) is trying to change the beer-drinking part of the equation. Bennett Lane Winery owner Randy Lynch has recently announced a two-year partnership with Sonoma, Calif.'s Infineon Raceway, in which his winery will be the title sponsor of the upcoming NASCAR Camping World Series West Event.

The raceway will also begin serving Bennett Lane Maximus and Cabernet Sauvignon by the glass. Lynch, himself a former amateur racecar driver, is no stranger to the racetrack. He currently owns a NASCAR West division team, whose No. 2 Bennett Lane Winery car won the 2007 West Series championship.

This year Lynch's wife, Lisa Lynch, will be heading up a second Bennett Lane team, represented by the No. 24 Maximus, which will compete against the No. 2 Bennett Lane car. Unfiltered is still working out the kinks on its own racecar, which will feature a wine fridge in the trunk, a cork dashboard and an engine that runs on grape pomace

Richard Childress:
When Richard Childress was 17 years old, he began racing a 1937 Plymouth he bought for $20. He eventually made his way onto the racing circuit as a driver, but after only a few years, he turned to running a team and brought on the now legendary, late Dale Earnhardt. Since then Richard Childress Racing has racked up 125 victories over the past 36 years, and today has top-ranked drivers Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Dave Blaney behind the wheel of three teams in NASCAR's NEXTEL Cup Series. And just like a rookie driver trying to overcome the critics' doubts, Childress is trying to defy the skeptics who wouldn't dream of growing grapes or making wine in North Carolina. With Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon planted and a winery that opened just last year, Childress wants to make wine that everyone will like--even NASCAR fans.

More On Bennett Lane:
Who: Randy and Lisa Lynch, who purchased a second home with a dozen or so acres of vineyards in Calistoga at the northern end of Napa Valley. A former race-car driver, Lynch also owns a NASCAR West division team and an ad agency. Rob Hunter, formerly of Sterling and Markham, signed on as consulting winemaker in 2005.

When: After purchasing their new home and the accompanying vineyards, the Lynches considered selling off their fruit, but a glut of grapes in the area was pushing down prices. Instead, they decided to make their own wine. They found a custom-crush facility, Bennett Lane, that happened to be for sale, and they bought it just in time for the 2003 harvest.

Where: Lynch is using as much of his property as possible for grapegrowing. He owns a total of 22 acres in Calistoga--10 acres at the winery and 12 around his home, where, he says, "all that isn't a driveway or house" is planted to vines, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with small amounts of Petit Verdot and Merlot. The couple sources the rest of their fruit from another 40 acres in Napa Valley, buying additional Chardonnay grapes from

Sources: Unfiltered: "Plus, the relationship between wine and NASCAR gets cozier"; "Wine Talk: Richard Childress," Eric Arnold; "Wine Talk: Mike Skinner," Laurie Woolever; "New Wines, New Faces: Bennett Lane," Robert Taylor and MaryAnn Bovio, Wine Spectator, April 17, 2008

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