It’s well-known that NBA players enjoy wine as a pastime, including the Portland Trail Blazers’ CJ McCollum, reports Katie Heindl of Uproxx. But unlike other players in the league, McCollum is taking it to another level, developing his own label in partnership with Adelsheim Vineyards. The pinot noir, dubbed McCollum Heritage 91, sold out in less than an hour when it debuted. But McCollum did not foresee that end when he arrived in Oregon.
“Coming here, I had no idea this was a goldmine,” McCollum says, “it was just completely different than anything that I’d been exposed to, from the greenery to the people to the food, to just being exposed to a natural wine region. We don’t have those types of things in Ohio, so I just kind of began to explore.”
As McCollum has explored the region, his tastes have expanded outside of it.
Though he acknowledges he’s still a staunch Oregon pinot drinker, McCollum’s taste in wine is evolving at the same full-tilt speed of his curiosity for it, “My palate is shifting, it’s evolving. My love for other wines is evolving. I started with red and now I’m moving on to whites,” he takes a breath before running through regions, varieties. “You’ve got Chenin blanc, the Vouvrays, you got chardonnays,” he sounds almost in a light reverie, “just continuing to try to try new things. White Burgundy grapes. I’m just being exposed to more and more, and continuing to try to learn as much as possible.”
“There’s so many things that you have to go through to learn about wine,” he continues, “For me, I’ll never learn everything and I’m comfortable with that but I’ll continue to try and expose myself to different avenues of wine to educate myself. To have those long days at the vineyard where I’m in the cage drinking wine and learning more about things, speaking to the people who love wine even more than I do.”
Apparently, teammate Damian Lillard needed some education and nudging to get beyond Rieslings.
“I know Dame [Lillard] was drinking riesling for like, two years. I was like, ‘You have to stop drinking riesling and drink something else.’” He laughs, we both do, it’s hard not to picturing McCollum critiquing Lillard on his riesling consumption, he continues, “You know what I mean? I was introducing him to different wines.”
You can read more about McCollum’s journey with wine here.