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Route change for entrepreneurial Grand Prix driver

In town for a car race that didn't happen, a team owner and vintner made the most of an opportunity to promote his new wine brand.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. March 20, 2020
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The cancellation of the March 13-15 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg because of — what else? — coronavirus outbreak concerns slammed the brakes on racing in the streets, but teams and sponsors did their best to carry on with the business of marketing and promotion. 

The Racing Group, headed up by driver/owner Kevin Buckler, and Adobe Road Winery held a wine-tasting party Saturday night at the opulent, 30th-floor penthouse residence of Carlos and Beverly Yepes, which overlooks St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront and Tampa Bay. Carlos Yepes, a property developer, splits time between his luxurious Beach Drive residence in St. Pete and a super yacht that travels between St. Kitts and Nantucket. 

Buckler, meanwhile, pulls double-duty as CEO of Petaluma, Calif.-based Adobe Road Winery. “Drink up,” he urged guests at the Yepes’ residence, which was stocked with much more wine than usual because of the cancellation of other race-related hospitality events that had been planned for the weekend. 

The synergy between the racing team and the winery is palpable, with Adobe Road launching a new Racing Series of red wines with names like Apex, Redline, Shift and The 24. The latter is a reference to 24-hour, endurance-focused races like Le Mans, while Shift’s custom-made bottles are emblazoned with replicas of a gear-shift plate from a vintage Ferrari. Redline features a RPM gauge that goes into “the red” as wine is poured. 

The multitalented Buckler says he personally crafted the wines in conjunction with Adobe Road winemaker Garrett Martin. Then they moved on to the packaging and “story” around the Racing Series brand. 

“I am just so proud of everything that’s happening around Adobe Road Winery right now,” Buckler states in a news release. Buckler says Shift received a coveted 93+ rating from Robert Parker Wine Advocate, which “validates everything we’re doing.”


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