Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Stoudemire, a former player for the New York Knicks, has a strong connection to the Jewish faith.

Elisabeth Sherman
February 22, 2018

Former NBA player Amar’e Stoudemire is celebrating his connection to Israel—which he has been exploring for nearly a decade now—by releasing his own line of kosher wines called the Stoudemire Private Collection.

Around 2010, the basketball player, who at the time was a player for the New York Knicks, gave an interview in which he revealed that he has long felt connected to Judaism through his mother, whom he speculates may have been Hebrew. Later that year, Stoudemire traveled to Israel in order to better connect with this lost piece of his identity. Though Stoudemire was raised Christian, he said at the time that he feels “spiritually Jewish, culturally Jewish.”

Three years later, Stoudemire was able to meet with Israel’s president at the time, Shimon Peres, who encouraged him to play for an Israeli basketball league. He eventually left the NBA in 2016, to play for Hapoel Jerusalem (which he helped win the Israeli Basketball League Cup). In September of last year, he announced that he would be retiring from the sport.

According to Forward, Stoudemire had been in talks with the Israel Wine Producers Association for about three years before closing the deal. At the moment, the line includes two red blends and a Cabernet Sauvignon, which are produced at the Tulip Winery, in the Kfar Tikva.

At the launch of the wine collection at the Jewish National Fund House in New York City, Stoudemire called his ability to work with Israeli winemakers on this project a “blessing.” He hopes to keep producing wine, but he’ll never take his business outside of Israel. He says that working with grapes from Israel is his way of “giving back to the land.”

The NBA, by the way, has a storied history of obsession with fancy wine. LeBron James, for one thing, has a near encyclopedic knowledge of fine wine.  Need more proof? ESPN recently published a long story about NBA players’ “love affair” with vino.