It is hard to ignore this reality show, if it is in fact the Robertson clan’s reality and not just a ruse as they laugh all the way to the bank — “Happy, happy, happy,” as clan patriarch Phil Robertson likes to exclaim.
The clan is especially happy, happy, happy these days with deals like the one with Wal-Mart that has generated an estimated $400 million in sales of “Duck Dynasty” paraphernalia. But happiness may be short lived as news of Phil’s indefinite suspension from the show was announced last week because of politically incorrect comments made in an interview with GQ magazine.
Two members of the clan — Willie Robertson, Phil’s son and CEO of Duck Commander, and Uncle Si, Phil’s brother and Willie’s uncle — recently achieved the pinnacle of fame. Each now have Chia Pets in their likeness.
Facial hair plays a prominent role in the lives of the Robertson men. I am talking lots of facial hair, in the form of thick, bushy, unkempt looking beards in which a bird could nest and raise a family of young. Willie and Uncle Si’s Chia Pet likenesses grow, you guessed it, facial hair.
For the uninitiated, “Duck Dynasty” follows the lives of the Robertson clan in rural West Monroe, La. Phil Robertson started a duck call manufacturing business, Duck Commander, in 1972, incorporating it in 1973. Willie, Phil and wife Kay’s third son, is the CEO. Equipped with business acumen and a degree in business from the University of Louisiana Monroe, Willie parlayed Duck Commander into a multi-million dollar empire.
Now, like many fellow celebrities, the Robertsons have launched their own wine label just in time for the holidays. This is not the wine they tried to make in a recent episode when Willie bought a winery and a dormant vineyard sight unseen and invited a crowd to a wine tasting. The plot of this episode shows the Robertson clan scrambling to make wine from grocery store grapes in time to host a wine tasting the following night. The wine made by the enology-challenged Robertson clan was by their own admission unpalatable.
Willie’s latest wine venture is likely to be more successful. For the Duck Commander wine label, the Robertson family partnered with one of California’s oldest winemaking families, the Trinchero family, whose portfolio of fine wines include the likes of Sutter Home, Folie à Deux, Ménage à Trois, Joel Gott and Napa Cellars among others.
With Trinchero making the wine, one thing is assured, it will be palatable. With its camo-emblazoned label and the “Duck Dynasty” endorsement, Duck Commander Wood Duck Chardonnay, Triple Threat Red Blend and Miss Priss Pink Moscato for $8.97 a bottle at Wal-Mart are assured of becoming yet another cash cow for the Robertsons.
Though not a fan of reality TV, gentle readers, understand it is my journalistic curiosity that compels periodic watching of the Robertson clan shenanigans. Public TV’s “Downton Abbey” is more my cup of tea, though the final episode of season three was viewed by only 8 million viewers in comparison to the “Duck Dynasty” season four premier, which attracted almost 12 million viewers.
The producers of “Downton Abbey” have not shied away from franchising everything Downton, and the program also has its own wine label. Two wines have been released under the Downton label, both Bordeaux, in a white and a red.
Sourced from the family-owned Dulong vineyard and crafted by fifth-generation winemaker, Jean-Marc Dulong, these wines are versions that noblemen would have consumed in the era of the fictional Downton’s heyday. Available from wine.com for $16.99 plus shipping, they are also available at World Markets in the $20 range.
Also at World Market is a range of Downton products including shortbread, mincemeat tarts, plum puddings, teas and dishware. This is only a small sampling of Downton accoutrement.
Some Brits complain the bastardization of such a critically acclaimed series is a sacrilege. To those critics I say, at least to my knowledge, there are no Lady Mary or Lord Grantham Chia Pets.
Email Pat Kettles at email@example.com