You might look sophisticated drinking wine, but just imagine if you owned and operated a winery. Celebrities often dream of a label bearing their name, but it’s hard work and a famous name alone doesn’t spell success. Many have succeeded, however, and they include big time athletes with a taste for vino. Whet your appetite with our list of athlete vintners.
For more on wine, watch “Guy Code” tonight at 11p/10c on MTV2
1. Mike Ditka
Ditka strikes us as a beer drinker, but Iron Mike likes the grapes too, or at least having a stake in the industry. He’s partnered with California-based Terlato wines, and has basically become the face of the brand, located north of Napa Valley. For a price, visitors can long-snap a bottle to Iron Mike and then spike it. (That’s not true.)
2. Yao Ming
Yao launched his boutique winery Yao Family Wines two years ago in Napa Valley. It produces only about 4,500 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon, which range in price from $280 to $625 per bottle. (We’d have guessed that Yao drinks out of a humongous goblet, but a regular wine glass appears to work just fine.)
3. Ernie Els
You’ll need a passport to visit golfing great Ernie Els’s winery, which is located in South Africa. The winery has incorporated the golfer’s passion into the experience, hosting a chipping competition on the last weekend of each month. Cool apron.
4. Igor Larionov
“Hockey is my life, wine is my passion,” said Hall of Fame center Igor Larionov. His Michigan-based winery goes by “Triple Overtime,” a reference to his triple overtime game winner in Game 3 of the 2002 Stanley Cup finals.
5. Tom Seaver
The Hall of Fame Mets pitcher who dominated on the diamond is crushing it in California now with a Cabernet Sauvignon, which was accorded a very respectable 97 rating by Wine Spectator. At least the Mets are winning at something.
6. Wayne Gretzky
The hockey legend’s winery, Wayne Gretzky Estates, is located in Ontario, Canada. Apparently it’s not too icy to grow wine up North. Somehow they’ve yet to produce a wine dubbed “The Great One.”
7. Charles Woodson
The recently released Packers cornerback/safety developed a taste for wine during his playing days in Oakland. He now co-owns boutique winery TwentyFour wines in Napa Valley. (The NFL, being the No Fun League, prohibits Woodson from promoting the grapes because of its alcohol policy.)
8. Drew Bledsoe
Hall of Fame quarterbacks Dan Marino and Joe Montana have dabbled in the wine industry, but neither quite as seriously as Drew Bledsoe. He runs the “estate-focused” Doubleback winery in his native Washington. Just wait a few years and Tom Brady or Tony Romo will take over the place.
9. Arnold Palmer
Golfing legend Arnold Palmer is the unofficial king of athlete beverage marketing. The wine, the iced tea…case closed:
For more on wine and wine etiquette, watch the new “Guy Code” on Tuesday at 11p/1oc on MTV2