Gerald Casale loves wine.
The Devo co-founder, 65 discovered fine wine and fine cuisine after Devo left Akron in 1978 for the sunny, smoggy, (then) cocaine-fueled paradise known as Los Angeles to find fame and fortune.
The band indeed found both fame and fortune, but Casale also found himself embedded in the then burgeoning California Cuisine and California wine scene, a far culinary cry from his humble Akron beginnings.
"Listen, I grew up blue-collar in Ohio, I ate what people ate there which was basically, macaroni and cheese, pizzas, overcooked, brown rump roast, baloney sandwiches..any cheese was Velveeta and any wine was Night Train," Casale said.
Casale's timing was perfect and soon he was buddying up to then young soon-to-be superstar chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Michael McCarty and Piero Selvaggio. Casale then took advantage of Devo's European tours to further learn, refine his taste for carefully fermented grapes and developed a love of fine food and fine wine.
"Because they knew who I was and I was interested in their food we became friendly. And then they started teaching me about things. I'd ask obnoxious questions badger them and not leave them alone and I learned so much about food and wine, that way," he said.
But knowing a good wine from a bad wine wasn't enough for Casale who would go on to teach wine drinking classes in the early 90s while Devo was mostly dormant.
"But it still wasn't analytical, I then wanted to know how wine was made and why one producer can take grapes and make a great wine but you give those same grapes to another producer and they make a crummy wine," Casale said.
"It just became more and more of a dream, an aspiration to actually become involved with something I respected and that brings so much quality of life with it. There's nothing like a decent meal and a nice wine to go with it to end your day with," he said.
Casale is now in officially in the wine business with The 50 by 50 line of wines which will launch with one of Casale's favorite varietals a Pinot Noir and Rose of Pinot Noir at very reasonable price points of $30 and $20, respectively. The wines will not be available in Ohio immediately but Casale hopes to successfully navigate the convoluted state-to-state wine tariffs and perhaps get the 50 by 50 into restaurants and eventually stores shelves.
We'll have more with Casale in next week's paper including a tidbit about Devo's summer touring plans.