Like a Fine Wine
Film director Doug
Barr, BA 72, sits on the patio of a wine
distillery surrounded by the glorious views of grape vineyards
one might expect to find in Napa Valley, Calif. It is here
that his company, Hollywood & Vine Cellars, makes its
acclaimed wine, 2480, the intricate creation of which Barr
is so lovingly explaining.
He is physically
far enough away from Hollywood to enjoy some of the serenity
that comes with being removed from it, but the industry is
not far from his thoughts as he plans to leave for Vancouver
to direct his next film.
lucky to have fallen into a fantasy business, Barr says.
I never thought Id be doing any of this Hollywood
stuff, but its an exciting way to make a living.
came calling, Barr was a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native who began
his collegiate studies at the University of Northern Colorado.
It was there that he would meet his life-long best friend,
Bruce Orosz, who would later also become his partner at Hollywood
& Vine Cellars.
The time was the
1960s, and Barr felt removed from everything that was going
on in the country. I wanted to leave that bubble and
become political, Barr says. So he transferred to The
George Washington University where he was able to experience
first-hand the height of the protests of the Vietnam War.
Barr graduated from
GW in 1972 with a bachelors degree in philosophy. He
then spent most of his time in New York and London doing some
modeling, a field he says he accidentally fell into. It was
a good accident, as it was during this time Barr met his wife,
Clare Kirkconnell, also a model who now devotes her career
Modeling led to acting
gigs, and in the 1980s, Barr moved to Los Angeles and landed
starring rolls in two television sitcoms. For five seasons
he played Howie Munson in The Fall Guy. Together
with Lee Majors character Colt Seevers, Barrs
character fought crime and bad guys. After that series ended,
Barr played Charlenes hunky boyfriend, Col. Bill Stillfield,
on Designing Women for two seasons until 1991.
During these years, Barr also made several guest appearances
on The Love Boat, Hotel, Fantasy
Island, and Murder She Wrote, in addition
to stints on a dozen other shows.
In 1992, the political
side of Barr became prominent again as he joined Orosz in
organizing more than 50 musical acts for President Clintons
first inauguration. It felt good to be back in D.C.
and part of politics, Barr says.
During down time
from acting, Barr began writing screenplays. From there, he
turned to directing. As a director of more than 15 films since
1994, Barr worked with such acclaimed actors as Louis Gossett
Jr., Rosanna Arquette, Bradley Whitford, and Olympia Dukakis.
His move to writing
and directing coincided with his move to the wine country.
Barr and his wife purchased a home in Napa Valley that belonged
to Maynard Amerine, a pioneer in Califonia wine. It was in
the homes wine cellar that Barr stumbled onto a book
Amerine had written about wine that got him thinking. As is
his nature, Barr ran with his new idea and together with Orosz,
founded the business that now makes the 2480 label. The name
of the wine came from the address of his home and is a way
to pay homage to Amerine, he says.
Barr and Orosz began
by selling bottles of 2480 Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon
out of the back of a truck in 1998. Their business grew quickly,
so much so that in 2001, they sold out of every bottle of
wine they had made.
The grapes they use
in their wine come from the premium vineyards of Atlas Peak,
the historic J.J. Cohn Estate, and the pedigreed Davis Station
in Oakville. Their cabernet also uses grapes from actor Robin
Williams vineyards, Mt. Veeder, so even in the wine
business, Barr cannot escape Hollywood.
But he would not
want to if he could. Now when Im with Hollywood
execs talking about a project, I sit in meetings and everyone
wants to talk about wine, he says. Its a
And its one
that has helped him bring his life full circle. Im
still learning as I go along, Barr says. Wine
is a metaphor for life: Better grapes come from rougher soil.
Such is the journey
that Barr has taken, always trying new things and never taking
the easy road. It all sounds like a great plot for a movie
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2005 Table of Contents