Yao: Deke introduced me to fine wine

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by basso, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. basso

    basso Contributing Member

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    NBA Hall of Famer Yao Ming has a winery that’s better than you think, and a new tasting room where you can judge for yourself.

    [rquoter]A week after attending this year’s NBA All-Star Game, Yao Ming flew to Napa, California, for the opening of his winery’s first tasting room. He was two hours late, which only added to the anticipation. A server immediately furnished him with a glass of 2009 Cabernet; it looked thimble-sized in the hands of the 7-foot-6 former Houston Rockets center and eight-time NBA All-Star. Fans rushed him, craning their cameras for a shot of his towering visage, and Yao soon retreated behind the bar, using the quartz counter as a screen from the crowd. Leaning over to greet his investors, he knocked his head on a chandelier festooned with a dozen bottles of wine. He smiled, and soon was humbly deflecting praise for the vintages he’d helped mastermind.

    For retiring athletes and aging celebrities, a vanity wine label is often a misguided second act. Real Housewife Brandi Glanville’s Chardonnay, Emilio Estevez’s Viognier, ex-NFL coach Mike Ditka’s Cabernet Sauvignon—they’ve all been dreadful. “A formula for mediocrity,” wrote the dean of American wine criticism, Robert Parker. So it came as a surprise when Parker gave Yao Family Wines excellent reviews, calling his Cabernets “brilliant” and his reserve bottles as good as “just about anything made in Napa.”

    Yao launched the project just after his retirement, in 2011, with 40 acres of vineyards in the hills of Napa Valley. Last year, the winery raised $3 million via Crowdfunder (Kickstarter for the MBA set; the minimum donation was $5,000). In addition to the Napa tasting room, Yao plans to also open one in his native Shanghai, where he’s lived since his retirement.

    In China, the culture of winemaking is growing rapidly. The nation is now the world’s leading consumer of red wine, with nearly 2 billion bottles sold annually—a number that has more than doubled in the last five years. In a pitch to potential investors, Yao’s team pointed out, “No USA winery has meaningful market share” in China. “No one except Gallo is trying to get any.” Depending on how overserved you were in college, you may recognize Ernest & Julio Gallo as the maker of Carlo Rossi jug wine; Gallo exports 900,000 cases of Carlo Rossi to China each year, making it the dominant American winemaker there.

    By comparison, Yao Family Wines currently ships 5,000 cases to China per year. In an effort to gain a foothold in the export market, the winery is pairing its original $100 Cabernet Sauvignon and $225 Cabernet Sauvignon reserve with more affordable bottles; Yao now offers a Zinfandel and a red blend—both grown in Lodi, California—for $20 each.

    Tom Hinde, the president of the label, is already planning for September’s harvest, when he and Yao will finish the base blends from their 2014 grapes and bottle their Cabernets before turning to the vineyards themselves, which could become more geographically diverse soon. “We might make a wine in Chile,” he says. “We might make a wine in China or Italy.”

    Wherever the business goes next, it’s clear where Yao first drew his winemaking inspiration: Houston Rockets teammate Dikembe Mutombo, who introduced him to Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon at a Houston steakhouse after a playoff win a decade ago. And what was the vintage that first piqued his interest? “You know, there were many dinners,” Yao says. “And it was much more than any one bottle.”[/rquoter]

    http://www.unitedmags.com/yao-ming-is-napas-newest-player
     
  2. PhiSlammaJamma

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    China has relatively low wine consumption compared to the rest of the world, however, I see that as a potential market given that wine is big business everywhere else. China cannot possibly be that different culturally than the rest of us in a modern world. And the market is up like 12% to prove it. Think this is good business. Yao additionally brings instant market. And he has the money to funnel in for distribution. Competing for the rest of the world would be difficult, but in China, I would think he could run that show and make a lot money. Margin for error seems low and the industry is approaching a tipping point in terms of gravitational pull in both China and possibly Japan.
     
  3. Scarface

    Scarface Contributing Member

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    I've driven past it a few times and the last time I joked to my wife that it was Yao Ming's Family Winery, and she confirmed that it was his. I'm not a wine drinker so I've never been inside. I'll check it out next time.
     
  4. basso

    basso Contributing Member

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    just because of the scale of the (potential) market, 12% is a significant amount in real consumption terms.
     
  5. kikiscafe

    kikiscafe Member

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    any discount for us houstonians?
     
  6. basso

    basso Contributing Member

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    their wines are not cheap!
     
  7. Easy

    Easy Contributing Member

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    Do you have to wag your finger after you taste the wine? :)
     
  8. tmac

    tmac Contributing Member

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    No, you have to eat it with a cookie.
     
  9. hvic

    hvic Member

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    I am surprise the cookie monster knows about fine wine. Im joking Deke is a classy guy
     
  10. basso

    basso Contributing Member

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    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Roses are red,<br>Violets are blue,<br>Wine.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ThursdayThoughts?src=hash">#ThursdayThoughts</a></p>&mdash; Yao Family Wines (@YaoFamilyWines) <a href="https://twitter.com/YaoFamilyWines/status/748519363649495040">June 30, 2016</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
     
  11. basso

    basso Contributing Member

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    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FridayFeeling?src=hash">#FridayFeeling</a> Knowing Cabernet and three days off is about to happen <a href="https://t.co/yqd1ilotvF">pic.twitter.com/yqd1ilotvF</a></p>&mdash; Yao Family Wines (@YaoFamilyWines) <a href="https://twitter.com/YaoFamilyWines/status/748975094806958080">July 1, 2016</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
     
  12. shaggylambda

    shaggylambda Member

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    At The Men's Club of Houston.
     
  13. rox4lyf

    rox4lyf Member

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    I bought a bottle at a steakhouse in San Francisco once kind of as a joke, not expecting much. Turns out much better than I expected. Quite solid.
     
  14. Horry33

    Horry33 Contributing Member

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    Daryl Morey introduced me to alcohol. Because of him I drink. Haha
     
  15. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    Rockets introduced me to nightly drinking
     
  16. the shark

    the shark Member

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    I would LOVE to see Deke drunk (that would be funny as hell).:grin:
     
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