Carmen Policy will never consider himself a song writer. Heck, he's still getting used to this winery-owner thing.
"The truth is, I don't get my hands that dirty, but it's fun to say I'm a farmer," Policy said.
Overseeing Casa Piena ("Full House") in Yountville with his wife, Gail, the 49ers' former CEO celebrates his 10th season in Napa Valley.
Acres of grapes is something the retired attorney couldn't fathom in his native Youngstown, Ohio.
"The only thing that grew was a little bit of grass, though it was more like weeds," Policy said. "I used to cut it in five minutes with one of those rotary push mowers."
Though the wine biz won't likely compare to being an integral part in five Super Bowl victories, Policy's proud of the Cabernet Sauvignon that Casa Piena produces. Not unlike a championship team, he's found that it's not cheap.
"If I knew what it would have cost, I probably wouldn't have done it," Policy said.
Yet, here he is. And happy with that vintage 2006 Cab through 2011.
"We're all just really impressed, really pleased with the end results," Policy said.
If the 71-year-old never thought he would own a winery, he couldn't possibly consider the odds of adding his two cents into a recording.
Still, "Full House Full Heart" and "A Friend Like You" has the Policy stamp with "Napa Crossroads" released by Concord Music Group.
Produced by rock 'n roller David Pack with performers including Bela Fleck, Todd Rundgren and the late Ray Manzarek, the CD release party and concert is April 28 at City Winery at the Napa Valley Opera House.
Proprietors from Silver Oak, Far Niente, Pride Mountain and Gargiulo Vineyards also have a hand in the production either writing or performing.
Policy said he enjoyed his collaboration with Pack, a Grammy-winning musician who said Policy "is simply one of the best people I've ever met. Carmen came up with great concepts for songs, the shape, the feeling, the vibe, the theme and then helped shape and co-write lyrics. He knew instinctively when we got them right and wrong and was very open and honest.
"I would sit, open up a few bottles of wine, and he would sit with a recorder and guitar," Policy said. "The two of us would drink and start coming up with the lyrics."
"A Friend Like You" was inspired by Policy's relationship with former Niners' owner Eddie DeBartolo, a pal for about 45 years.
"Full House Full Heart" about family "was my wife's idea," Policy said. "We wanted to mix in the concept of a full house, that you shouldn't drink alone but have people around you."
The tune, Policy continued, "is a very uplifting, fun song. It gets you going and we liked it."
"A Friend Like You" almost brought tears, Policy said. "It really moved us and we hope it maybe inspires others to feel something similar."
Creating the tunes "was kind of electrifying," Policy said, calling it a "once in a lifetime" experience.
The recording took five years to finish and Policy learned to admire Pack's patience.
"You couldn't do this project unless you had real patience and an appreciation for the people you were working with," Policy said. "He displayed that throughout. What really impressed me was his depth of
knowledge of music composition and style and what might be acceptable to the listener."
Drinking wine and exchanging ideas was grand, Policy said. Dealing with the business end of the recording, however, wasn't.
"That got to be the only burdensome part," he said. "It all took a long time. But then again, we weren't dedicated to a schedule," Policy said.
Just as Policy segued from practicing law to running the 49ers, he's made the transition from football to wine.
Oh sure, he still yells at the TV when the Niners are playing.
"Sometimes I do it for effect when the kids are around," he said. "I make sure they're paying attention."
Unlike a football player with a short shelf life, Policy said he's surrounded himself with people who get better with age "like the wine."
And, unlike football where the other teams are opponents, Policy has befriended many winery owners.
"You compete against yourself and your vineyard," he said. "You don't really compete against other wines. Your objective is to get the best you can possibly get from that parcel and produce the best possible wine."
If there's one thing Policy does regret, it's not paying homage to his family from roots in the Abruzzo region in central Italy by learning the native language.
"My grandma tried to teach me Italian, but I don't speak it," Policy said. "Now I'm kicking myself."
If you go:
Who: David Pack
What: Napa Crossroads CD Release Party
Where: City Winery Napa Opera House, 1030 Main St., Napa
Why: Raise money for The Music Connection supporting music in Napa
Valley schools and Arts Council Napa Valley
When: Monday, April 28, 6:30 p.m.