Marc Simon has led a life that most people can only dream about. He started as a professional musician in a rock band and currently runs his own winery in central California’s legendary wine country. Along the way he tried his luck as a racing driver, too. A life like that doesn’t just happen at random.
“Obviously, first was the music,” he recalled. “I was in a band called Wildside. We got signed to Capitol Records back in about 1990, and our first record came out in mid ’92, and then we toured around North America for most of the ’90s.”
Marc’s time as bass guitarist for Wildside was heady and fun and provided him the means to explore other adventures. From the world of hard rock, he found a passion for auto racing.
“I have always been a car and racing fan,” he explained. “I started doing track days, but that was getting boring after a while, so I decided to get a racecar. I went to California Speedway to watch the races and there were more cars in Spec Miata class than in any other race.”
The fast, close racing in the Spec Miata class reminded Marc of the energy he loved so much on stage, and he knew he had to try it for himself.
“I bought a car and a trailer, and I started racing. It’s most fun when you have a whole bunch of cars, but I wasn’t the best car setter-upper,” he joked. “I was upper-mid pack, so I did OK!”
Few people can stay on top in the music business forever, and after a while Marc was looking for an occupation that would let him stay home a little more.
“Getting into winemaking actually had something to do with car racing as well,” he revealed. “I’ve been a Formula One fan forever, and I got my wife into it. We’d go to Formula One races in France or Italy, and when we drank wine there, we just got hooked on it. We’d come home, and we’d go wine-tasting every weekend, either near us in Malibu or we’d come up to where we are now near Santa Barbara.”
In a short time, Marc’s passion for great wine became his new career. But the wines that he and his wife now produce carry reminders of his past careers on the labels.
“We were taking classes and learning about it, and then we started the winery around 2011,” he said. “That’s why we have the race cars on most of the labels. It just tells the story of how we got into wine initially.”
Making wine is more than a full-time job, so Marc hasn’t been to the track lately, but that won’t last forever. He’s been performing some reunion shows with Wildside, and thinking about his Spec Miata, too.
“I think about it all the time,” he insisted. “If you come to our tasting room, I have a TV with a slideshow of me playing music and racing. Since I see the racing pictures every day, it makes me want to go to the track. And now there’s the Global MX-5 Cup series, which looks really cool.”
Whether he’s on stage, on track, or making wine, sharing his passion is central to Marc’s life. He’d love to meet other Miata enthusiasts, music fans, and wine lovers.
“If you’re ever in the Santa Barbara area,” he promised, “give me a ring and I’ll make sure I’m in the tasting room.”