NBA star CJ McCollum launches Oregon Pinot Noir

NBA player CJ McCollum is the latest athlete to dip his toes into the wine trade, partnering with Oregon’s Adelsheim Vineyard on a Pinot Noir.

CJ McCollum Tours Adelsheim Winery , September 25th, 2019. Justin Tucker / Nine Eighty Four

McCollum, a shooting guard for Portland’s Trail Blazers, announced the launch of his own McCollum Heritage 91 Pinot Noir last week.

The Pinot is a 2018 vintage, made with grapes sourced from Oregon’s Chehalem Mountains appellation and crafted with Adelsheim winemaker Gina Hennen. It will be available to purchase from 15 September.

“Years of preparation and work went into this with a lot of moving parts and I’m thankful for everyone who helped bring this to life,” the athlete wrote in an Instagram post on Friday 26 June.

McCollum oversaw the label and logo design, packaging decisions and marketing and communications efforts, and also worked with winemaker Hennen during the blending process, who helped him “further refine” his own flavour preferences, according to the brand’s website.

CJ McCollum worked with winemaker Gina Hennen to learn more about the business (Photo: Justin Tucker/ Nine Eighty Four)

“We had a great time working side-by-side with CJ, creating this unique wine,” said Hennen. “It’s always fun to learn someone else’s palate, and – in CJ’s case – we were able to craft a wine to suit him—one drawn from his favoured volcanic soils, with elegance, style and a smooth sensibility.

The name itself is a nod to McCollumn’s own life. “Heritage” was the name of the street he grew up on, and as he was born in 1991, “91” is a reflection of his own vintage.

“After being introduced to wine in my early 20s by my now fiancée Elise, my fortuitous move to one of the top wine regions in the U.S. took my existing passion for – and knowledge of – wine to new heights,” McCollum said in a press release.

“I’ve had the opportunity to immerse myself in the Willamette Valley, and Pinot Noir has earned a special place in my heart.

“With the introduction of McCollum Heritage 91, I hope basketball fans and wine lovers alike will appreciate this bottle as much as I enjoyed the process of bringing it to them.”

The grapes were hand-picked and de-stemmed before being cold soaked in steel vats for five days, and then fermented for 10. The wine went into mostly used French oaks barrels for 10 months before bottling.

The resulting wine is said to have prominent aromas of cedar, cherry and violets, with “supple tannins” and a finish that “goes on and on”, according to Hennen.

Wines will be distributed through the brand’s website, retailing for US$50 per bottle. McCollum plans to release additional vintages of McCollum Heritage 91 wine by spring 2021.

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