"We will sell no wine before its time"

Dwayne Perreault — If you are old enough and from North America, you may remember the wines of Paul Masson, and the TV commercials from the 1970s featuring Orson Welles. These were some of the first wines I remember drinking, but strangely the memory was half buried and the name was forgotten. I thought the wines were from Paul Mas, but as Brigitte Barreiro, Paul Mas’ marketing manager wrote to me, “Paul Mas wines were not yet available then, but you were already dreaming of them!”

No, it was Paul Masson, who moved from Burgundy to California in 1878 and released his first “champagne” in 1892. Masson eventually became known as “the Champagne king of California.” The commercials featuring Orson Welles are priceless. At this point in his life, Welles was eating and drinking far too much, and the results were sometimes comical. Here is an actual commercial from that time:

If you looked closely, you noticed that Welles was not actually talking but the audio was dubbed over the footage. This is because Welles was completely drunk on the day of the shooting. The following are some actual, unedited takes of the same commercial:

What was Welles drinking that day? We don’t know, but it wasn’t Paul Masson wine. Despite having a lucrative contract which included large amounts of free wine, Welles was fired in the early 1980s after admitting on a US talk show that he never drank a Paul Masson wine in his life. As for the commercial, it has become something of a cult classic by now. As Welles himself might have said, the following parody is eminently worth watching. My favourite part is when he gesticulates to the bottle with an entire chicken in his hand…


jan suyderhoud said…
You should place this commercial below the one on your website from Hamersma for "G"
and see the similarities!

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