In the antediluvian 20th century, you likely associated beer with sporting events and athletes. Today, in the bright, shining enlightenment of the 21st century, wine can claim its spot alongside beer as a sports libation. Beer guzzlers would demure—likely with a belch—but they would be wrong.
Major sports venues have upgraded both their food and drink offerings. Wine is available by the cup and can. Higher-end wines are available by the bottle in luxury suites.
Several major sports pros are associated with wine, and not just by slapping their name on a label. Basketball superstar Yao Ming is actively involved in Yao Family Wines. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been a part-owner of the Oregon-based A to Z Wineworks since 2006.
Football stars and coaches are winery owners. Drew Bledsoe owns Doubleback Cellars, Bledsoe Family Wines, and Bledsoe-McDaniels. John Elway owns 7Cellars. Former NFL quarterbacks Dan Marino and Damon Huard own Passing Time. Super Bowl-winning coach Dick Vermeil owns Vermeil Wines. He sources grapes from a vineyard his grandfather picked as a vineyard laborer.
Former Oakland Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson co-owns Intercept and TwentyFour by Charles Woodson. TwentyFour is high-end Napa; Intercept is a more accessible line of Paso Robles wines.
Race car driver Kevin Buckler—a 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, plus another 99 professional victories—owns Adobe Road. As you might imagine, his wines have a racing tie: The 24, Shift, Redline, Apex.
Dusty Baker, Greg Vaughn, and Tom Seaver are just some baseball star winery owners. Golf star winery owners include Ernie Els, Cristie Kerr, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam, Jan Stephenson, and Nick Faldo.
Obviously, there are different motivations, but there is one somewhat general theme. Athletes understand vintage. Each year challenges you to make the most of what nature and happenstance present to you. Everything may go right, things may go wrong. In sports, in winemaking.
• A to Z Wineworks Bubbles Oregon Rosé Wine: Crisp, creamy with good acidity. Fun and whimsy here. Four-pack of 250 ml cans, $20 Link to my review
• Adobe Road Apex Sonoma County Red Wine 2016: Delicious with complexity and depth. Drinks like a high-end Left Bank Bordeaux. $76-80 Link to my review
• Yao Family Wines Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Yao Ming 2016: Bold, vibrant, toweringly delicious. This is major wine, with concomitant price. $85-100 Link to my review
Last round: What word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it? “Short.”