Smokey Robinson romances through the grapevine

In 1968, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, recorded the song, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” a song about the heartbreak of a fallen lover. That same year, another version of the song was recorded and released as a single by Marvin Gaye. It became a smash hit.

Although Robinson went on to make and write several hits with and without the group, the singer has ventured back to the grapevine for his latest project.

The soulful crooner has linked his name to something as smooth and sweet as the lyrics of his songs—wine.

With help from his friend and personal banker, Bob Buzzelli, and the owner of Grapevine Ventures, Louis Caputo, Robinson has been able to bottle his music into a classic, liquid amenity, dubbed the Smokey Robinson Wines.

But Smokey wasn’t a fan of alcoholic beverages. He could not stand the potency of the liquor, he said.

Smokey Robinson’s 2014 cabernet sauvignon, and the 2015 riesling, are both made with grapes from Suisun Valley, Calif., east of Napa Valley. (Photo by Cendino Teme)

A vegan for the last two years, he does not pair his wine with meat or cheese, but he was sold on the idea of starting a wine collection after a little convincing from Caputo and Buzzelli.

“They asked me, ‘how do you like your wine?’ and I said, ‘wine, me, I don’t really drink that much,’” said Robinson. The singer said when he does drink, on occasion, he indulges in a glass of wine “so I gave it try, and it was good.”

The riesling has a crisp, light taste with a mix of apple and honey. A sip of it has a hint of alcohol.

Robinson’s personal preference however, is white wine, which he named My Girl.

There is the light, citrus, pear and honey taste of the chardonnay. The wine is named after “My Girl,” a song Robinson wrote for The Temptations, released in 1964.

The label has a silhouette of a woman made out of staff lines, and it is a dedicated to Robinson’s female fans.

“What we did was try to find a wine that was soft to base it on ‘My Girl,’” said Buzzelli. “So we chose a white wine because a majority of women like white wine.”

For another of Robinson’s biggest hits, the business partners tied it to a wine that would be more masculine and popular with men.

In this March 16 photo, crooner Smokey Robinson poses with two bottles of his signature wine at the Miami Airport Marriott Hotel. (Photo by Cendino Teme)

In the song, “Cruisin,” Robinson channels a man who wants to seal his relationship with a woman.

“And if you want it you got it forever. This is not a one-night stand,” sings Robinson behind the light rhythmic melody, a signature of Motown. The bottle of the Bordeaux blend is illustrated in a design that is shaped like a flame.

There is also a pinot noir illustrated with the likeness of a couple embracing labeled after his 2005 hit, “Being with You.”

Even though Robinson is not a sommelier or a wine expert, he said that he wanted to create an experience for his fans that would “touch and move” them as he has done with his music for decades. His wine and music are the same he says:  “simple, classic and timeless.”

Bottles of Robinson’s riesling and cabernet sauvignon are available for purchase at and

The series of bottles touting the matching song labels will be available in the spring.

This story was originally published in The Miami Times March 22, 2018.FullSizeRender.jpg

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