Nick Allen grew up on the family cattle farm in Bedminster, New Jersey, listening to ‘80s rock music and the explicit radio rants of Howard Stern on the way to school. During his formative years, Nick identified with the musicians and film characters he chose to embrace. He was always musically and visually inspired; the music and films he loved would eventually leave an indelible impression.
Childhood presented many phases, interests, and obsessions, and the music that was associated with each. In early grade school he gravitated toward the aforementioned ‘80s rock and pop, such as Kenny Loggins and the soundtrack to Footloose, The Cars, Huey Lewis & The News, John Cougar Mellencamp, Duran Duran, and Bruce Springsteen. By fifth grade it was the sounds of Grandmaster Flash, Chaka Khan, Run DMC, and films like Breakin’. During this break-dancing phase he wore warm-up suits and fat-laced high tops. Then it was on the skateboarding phase: Sex Pistols, Suicidal Tendencies, and the Beastie Boys. Baggy shorts, Converse All-Stars, punk T-shirts, and bandanas were standard issue. He received his first drum set and started banging away to his cranked “ghetto box” radio.
A pivotal moment was in seventh grade at his first U2 concert, during the Joshua Tree Tour. The experience instilled an obsession with live music. Entering high school, influenced by his older brothers, it was all about ‘60s and ‘70s classic rock, particularly the Grateful Dead. His joined his first band—a Dead cover band—and experienced his first Dead concert with his brothers at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. He was immediately drawn to the energy, musical camaraderie, and sense of community. Bob Marley, Crosby Stills, Nash & Young, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and the Allman Brothers became staples in his growing repertoire of music, while he and his peers were also exposed to the electronic era of The Cure, Depeche Mode, and New Order. He watched Friday night videos and the birth of MTV and screened such movies as Easy Rider, The Grateful Dead Movie, Pink Floyd—The Wall, U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky, and Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains the Same. Films such as Prince’sPurple Rain, U2’s Rattle and Hum, The Outsiders, and just about any movie directed by John Hughes became paramount. Later directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Guy Ritchie, and Martin Scorcese became his most revered film directors.
As his exposure to new bands and genres expanded, so did his music collection. It became steeped in jam bands–Blues Traveler, Phish, and Widespread Panic. Happy recollections of escaping boarding school with upperclassmen to see these bands play in Portchester, New York, remain etched in his memory. He also enjoyed the Grunge onslaught of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Jane’s Addiction, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Sublime, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. In his formative years, and even today, a good dose of metal is praised. From the early days of Hollywood and big-hair metal–Van Halen, Def Leopard, Bon Jovi–to ACDC, Motley Crue’s “Decade of Decadence,” and Metallica, Nick admits there’s still a bit of a metal rocker left in him. Yet, to cross genres completely, during his 10 years in Colorado he developed a taste for outlaw country music–Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Charlie Daniels, David Allan Coe, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr., and Willie Nelson. He still follows country artists like Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney, and Zac Brown. There’s also a distinct country component to some of his favorite artists of the last five years, which include Amos Lee, Ryan Adams, Ray Lamontagne, Wilco, and Mumford & Sons.
He went on to study and professionally pursue film, photography, and music. Nick was a communications major at the University of Denver, and his academic focus was on TV, video, and film production, with a minor in photography. He was a production intern at the famous Fox Theatre in Boulder and at War Records, which produced such bands and events as The Samples, Big Head Todd, and “Reggae on The Rocks.” Additionally, he worked for Madison House in merchandise and ticket sales. The company booked and managed such acts as The String Cheese Incident, Galactic, Grey Boy All-Stars, and Kellar Williams. He worked for TCI cable (on cable shows during the birth of the digital compression-cable era), PBS (network programming), and on independent film productions.
Nick took post-graduate studies in small business, accounting, and finance at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and completed his certificate at the CU School of Real Estate and Appraisal. Due to his upbringing on the family farm, his appreciation of open space found him skiing and camping in Colorado, where he lived for 10 years. He met his wife Teil in Denver (their first concert together was Jane’s Addiction) and their love of music, wine, cooking, and entertaining friends evolved. After ten years in real estate, he would pursue a dream to continue his family legacy on US soil by creating his own wine label in Napa, California.
The founder of Nicholas Allen Wines, Nick formed his Carte Blanche Wine label in 2007, after two years of research and development in Northern California. His portfolio of micro-cult, boutique wines is handcrafted with acclaimed Napa winemaker Luc Morlet. Carte Blanche featured four wines with a total production of 750 cases in its first release, the acclaimed 2008 vintage. Today, the 2012 vintage features seven different wines from Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino, all spanning the varietals and styles of Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Rhone, with a total production of approximately 4000 cases. Nick’s family owns Domaine Clarence Dillonin Bordeaux which includes 1st Growth Chateau Haut-Brion, Premier Grand Cru Classe-A Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, and the family’s newest winery acquisition, Grand Cru Classe Chateau Quintus, in St. Emilion. Check out Nick’s Carte Blanche story here:http://www.carteblanchewine.com/story/
When Nick’s not at the winery in St. Helena, California, doing market visits and wine events, or promoting music events in Tampa, you’ll find him on his boat in Longboat Key with his wife Teil, his son Austin, and his daughter Hunter. His family and friends trump all, while producing high-quality wines and staging music remains a close second.
“My family and friends, Carte Blanche Wine, and Soulshine Music define me. They are my greatest passions, pursuits, and sources of happiness as a human being.” –Nick Allen, President – Soulshine Music
U2, Joshua Tree Tour
Allman Brothers at Red Rocks, 1996. College graduation show, backstage pass!
“Soulshine” – Allman Brothers Band
“Morning Dew” – Grateful Dead
“One Love” – Bob Marley
“Feelin’ Alright” – Joe Cocker
“Dixie Chicken” – Little Feat
Eddie Vedder, music icon of my generation
Jack White, another icon with a diverse musical range
Mumford & Sons, for their pure and powerful songs, stage presence, and magnetic energy