Mention the name Smokey Robinson and some of the singer-songwriter’s best-known song titles come to mind, including Motown hits when he was with The Miracles, such as “The Tracks of My Tears” and “I Second that Emotion,” and songs he wrote for several other artists, including “My Girl” for The Temptations.
Lately, Smokey Robinson’s name is linked to some of the most popular labels in his family of vintage wines, including his “My Girl” Chardonnay, “Being with You” Pinot Noir and “Crusin’ Bordeaux Blend.”
Robinson, who performed in concert last August at Greensburg’s Palace Theatre, also was in Pittsburgh back then to officially launch his new line of wines with Lawrenceville-based EngineHouse 25 Wines, unveiling his Smokey Robinson Cabernet and Smokey Robinson Riesling.
A year later, he recently said from his home in Los Angeles about his latest business venture, “It’s going over well and people are loving it; I’m so proud of it.”
Vintage Smokey Robinson
The song stylist and composer – who still recalls his first appearance in Western Pennsylvania with the Miracles at the former White Elephant nightclub in White Oak with legendary DJ, the late Porky Chedwick – will have some of his Smokey Robinson Wines at the 7th annual Rockin’ Wine and Beer Festival on June 1 at the Monroeville Convention Center.
He’s unable to be in town for the event, but his friends and business partners, financial adviser Bob Buzzelli and attorney Louis Caputo of Pittsburgh, will be there, sampling and selling some of their wines from Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley in California and Abruzzo, Italy.
Caputo said their “My Girl” Chardonnay and Smokey Robinson Riesling from California and their Rosé and Montepulciano Red from Abruzzo, Italy, will be available for sale by bottle or glass at the festival.
“Our ‘My Girl Red Blend’ was just released at a wine festival in Santa Monica to very positive reviews and will be available to the public over the summer,” he said. “We will be bringing back our ‘Being with You’ Pinot Noir from California in the fall.”
Robinson wanted his fans to know that he’s been in the recording studio the past few months and will be releasing new music soon. He and his wife have a home in Gibsonia and he was in town recently to work on some events planned later this summer.
Signed guitar collector
Also on hand at the Rockin’ Wine and Beer Festival will be Bill Bendel of White Oak, a retired nurse with a hobby of collecting autographed guitars that he gets signed by performers at concerts. He will have nearly a dozen guitars on display or for sale, with signatures of Brad Paisley, Huey Lewis, Willie Nelson and more. His Rick Springfield-signed guitar will be a door prize item.
Bendel finds guitars at estate sales and auctions and brings them with him when he attends concerts at the Palace Theatre, Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall and other venues. The most valuable signed guitar in his collection – one that he’s not looking to sell – features signatures of 30 country stars, including Kenny Chesney, Trisha Yearwood and Tim McGraw.
Other festival features
The Rockin’ Wine and Beer Festival, produced by Kelly Simon Event Management, will feature 100 wines and 100 craft, specialty and domestic beers, gourmet chefs and food vendors, games and activities, including cornhole and Jenga, and Readings by Ronda, a psychic medium.
Live music will be by The Second Wind Band playing classic and Southern rock during the 1-5 p.m. session, and Bon Journey, a Bon Jovi and Journey tribute band, from 6-10 p.m.
Festival admission includes a souvenir wine or beer glass and wine and beer samples. Door prizes will include a signed Rick Springfield guitar and a Smokey Robinson Wines basket. The festival is open to ages 21 or older.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.