Event Program: 2021 VIR SpeedTour

In Good Spirits

According to racecar driver and owner of Adobe Road Winery, Kevin Buckler, wine and racing are actually very similar businesses. “You know the joke about the way you get a small fortune in the wine business is to start with a large one,” he asked. “It’s the same in the racing business.”

All kidding aside, the 62-year-old Buckler has had the Midas touch in each career he’s pursued. He started in real estate development and became a turnaround specialist, building a strong business in the Midwest. When he sold it, he headed back to his roots in California with the dream of getting into professional motorsports.

“Growing up, my friends and I were heavy into high school car rallies. My childhood was a bit like American Graffiti,” he said. “I always had sports cars and eventually a track car. I loved it.”

Before Adobe Road Winery and being a dreamer with a head for business, Buckler founded The Racers Group, which provided service, parts, arrive-and-drive programs and driver training, but also turned a profit. Then in 1995, a friend who owned Togo’s sandwiches in California, gave Buckler the chance to race for him. Driving a completely custom built and designed early chassis Porsche 911, Buckler stunned the racing world by winning the 1995 IMSA California Grand Prix, proving that months of planning, training and practicing pay off. “Prior to the race, I was asking all the drivers for their autographs,” he said with a laugh.

Soon, Buckler became the one people sought out for autographs. The Racers Group holds the record for the most wins and podiums of any independent GT team in North American racing history and includes seven major championships and three years in NASCAR Sprint Cup. Buckler won four times at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and on his first attempt, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“When we arrived, we were so outgunned,” said Buckler. “It was like Rocky Balboa & the Dirty Dozen went to France.” Buckler won the iconic race using the same philosophy he’s used to achieve success in wine country with Adobe Road Winery.

“I go into a situation and really assess it,” he explains. “Most everyone else gets caught up in the bling, lap times, top speed and none of that is what wins endurance races. What wins is studying what can take you down and making no mistakes.”

And so far, Buckler hasn’t made any mistakes in wine country either. Buckler and his wife Debra, launched Adobe Road in 2002 and today the winery puts out a large variety of wines, with over 60 of them scoring 90+. The winery purchases grapes from notable vineyards throughout Sonoma and Napa counties.

Next year, Adobe Road will unveil a $15 million tasting room and entertainment complex along the riverfront in downtown Petaluma, becoming the city’s first working winery. In addition to the winery and tasting room, the facility will have lots of outdoor event space and a motorsports museum.

In late 2019, Adobe Road Winery launched The Racing Series. The boxed set of four premium red blends celebrates different moments on the track and represents a true collaboration between Buckler and his winemaker, Garrett Martin.

“A team is always better than its individual parts. I have a good palate and Garrett makes great wine. We are a team and putting together winning teams has always been my thing—I love it. True synergy is amazing.” Q

For more information on The Racing Series and Adobe Road Winery, go to www.adoberoadwines.com. Text republished from ICONIC
LIFE magazine, iconiclife.com.