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Queensryche singer signs bottles of his new wine in Redmond

Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate and Holly Turner of Three Rivers Winery signed bottles of Tate's wine, "Insania" at the Redmond Whole Foods Market April 17.

Tate described "Insania" as a "Bordeaux-style red wine with four different varietals" (60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Petit Verdot, 15 percent Merlot and 5 percent Malbec) and "great structure, soft tannins ... softer as time goes on."

And, Turner added, it has "old world character, lots of layers."

Taking little sips, Tate noted, you'll get "different tastes every time."

Why the name Insania?

Tate said he was looking for a word to represent something that "made your eyes open up wide. Lots of wines are flaccid, they're drinkable but lack excitement. We tried a whole bunch of different blends. When we all tasted (this one), we collectively all had wide eyes, looking for words to describe it. ...It also conjures up the spirit of rock music. We kind of learn to crush that at times."

Tate said foods such as pork or steak would pair well with Insania.

The rocker's relationship with Walla Walla-based Three Rivers Winery began "over a glass of wine," he said, laughing. "My wife and I love wine, wineries and food. We go to a lot of wine dinners."

During a severe snowstorm in Eastern Washington three years ago, they found their way to Three Rivers "and walked in to a wonderful aroma, had a beautiful dinner, fell in love with the place ... and the people were so welcoming and accepting. We developed a friendship over the years, brainstorming as a group."

Lots of Queensryche fans share his appreciation for food and wine, said Tate, even though their generation "grew up with wines more like Kool-Aid." In America, taste for wine develops more gradually, not like in Europe, where it's more common for wine to be served with meals.

In addition to promoting Insania, Tate's been busy with Queensryche's latest CD "American Soldier" and its support tour. After the bottle-signing at Whole Foods, Tate was headed to a performance at the Snoqualmie Casino and then would be packing for the next day's trip to Portland.

"American Soldier" was inspired by hundreds of interviews with war veterans from World War II to the present, including Tate's own dad, who served in Korea and Vietnam.

We asked if he had ever imagined doing an album entirely about soldiers, when he first started out in the music business.

"I never did think in those terms at that age," Tate admitted. "The older you get, your perspective broadens. I can be very guilty of thinking only of myself and my nuclear family."

But talking to so many vets, he was fascinated by "the stories of how they deal with what they do" and even more impressed that "not one — out of hundreds — said they regretted (their service). It gave them a better outlook, improved their lives. Not one was a believer in war — all wished they didn't have to go to war," yet they felt proud to serve.

For many years, Tate's father didn't talk about his war experiences. He held the haunting memories inside until he was in his 70s.

"So many soldiers don't talk about it," Tate remarked. "They come back, they're different people. It's felt dramatically by their families. As a kid, you see your own reasons why ... start blaming yourself."

Since the release of "American Soldier," Tate said he's been "getting letters — people are using this as a communication tool, giving it to their parents, saying it's a real healing process. Music is a very ancient, primitive, communication tool. It's not about blood and guts but their emotional effect, how they learn to process ... the commonalities, the separation from family and children, struggling with their definition of honor."

He said he feels deeply rewarded when veterans tell him the songs have helped them "feel like they're not alone."

For more information about Insania and Three Rivers Winery, visit www.threeriverswinery.com.

For more information about Queensryche and "American Soldier," visit www.queensryche.com.

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