I am still very much in the throws of my Marilyn Monroe obsession, and it is definitely true what they say – the more you think about something, the more you attract that thing to you. My father happened to be going through his wine collection last week and discovered a bottle of “Marilyn Merlot” wine that he had purchased almost a decade ago. No one in my family has ever been a big Marilyn fan, so it was a fairly random purchase. My dad says he came across the wine one day many years ago in a grocery store and he grabbed it thinking it might one day be a collector’s item. Due to my recent obsession, he of course gave the bottle to me and I quickly put it on display in my kitchen. Flash forward to this past weekend, when my parents were vacationing in Monterey, California. They made a visit to their favorite wine shop there, Terranova Fine Wines, and lo and behold, sitting on a shelf in the store was a vast collection of the Marilyn Wines, including the one my father had just given me. It’s present day worth? $225!! Guess he was right about it one day being a collector’s item. 🙂
Bob, the owner of Terranova, filled my dad in on the history of the Marilyn Wines. Apparently, in 1985 two Napa area brothers gained exclusive rights to Marilyn’s name and certain images of the starlet and decided to use them on bottles of wine. Beginning in ’85, the brothers released a new vintage of Marilyn Merlot each year on her birthday – June 1 – each with a different photograph of the screen legend. The wine was not extremely popular until its fourth vintage when it caught the attention of a Japanese businessman who formed a partnership with the brothers. They agreed that 60 percent of each year’s vintage would be sold exclusively in Japan, as Marilyn is still a huge icon there. They also agreed to only release a limited quantity of each year’s wine, so as to prevent overflooding of the market. Today the wines are hugely successful, with some vintages costing upwards of thousands of dollars. The brothers have branched out and now also produce Marilyn Cabernet, Norma Jeane Wines, the Velvet Collection, and Blonde de Noirs, their latest creation of sparkling wines. All royalties from the sales of the wines go to Anna Strasberg, the wife of Marilyn’s beloved acting coach, Lee Strasberg, to whom Marilyn left everything in her will. Anna allocates the money to the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and the Anna Freud Fondation in London.
That same day that my parents learned the history of the Marilyn Wines, my boyfriend and I were actually stalking the Beverly Hills home Marilyn shared for a few short months with husband Joe DiMaggio. Monroe and DiMaggio rented the house in April of 1954 while Marilyn was in town filming There’s No Business Like Show Business. The home, which is most often referred to as Joe and Marilyn’s honeymoon home, is a very cute, but nondescript Elizabethan style house. It is amazing to me to that she lived in such a normal home at the height of her career.
On October 6, 1954 a distraught Marilyn held a press conference on the front lawn of this home announcing her divorce from Joe DiMaggio. The press were out in force that day, camped out in Marilyn’s front yard, to document the event. Marilyn vacated the home shortly thereafter. You can see a slide-show of the press conference that took place that day here. Although it is a very long slide-show, there are quite a few photographs where you can see the home in the background.
Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂
Stalk It: Marilyn and Joe’s honeymoon home is located at 508 North Palm Drive in Beverly Hills, just off Santa Monica Boulevard. Terranova Fine Wines is located at 315 Calle Principal in Monterey, California. If you visit the store, be sure to ask for Bob, who has a vast knowledge of Marilyn Monroe and the Marilyn Wines. You can also visit the Terranova website here.