Portland Trail Blazer CJ McCollum Is Now the Owner of a 300-Acre Vineyard in Oregon
The modern NBA's love of fine wine has been widely documented — including shipping better wine into the "bubble" last season. LeBron James's "supercomputer"-like wine mind has certainly swayed some members of the league, but he's far from alone. Last year, players got involved in a virtual tasting series and have actively advocated to make the wine world more inclusive. A number of active and former players have even launched their own wine brands — names like Dwayne Wade, Channing Frye, and Amar'e Stoudemire.
But few players have proven to be as wine obsessed as Portland Trail Blazer CJ McCollum who, during the aforementioned bubble, reportedly turned his room into a giant refrigerator to keep his 84-bottle collection at the right temperature. Last year, McCollum and his wife Elise (who introduced CJ to wine in college) launched their own wine label, McCollum Heritage 91. The first release (of what is soon to be four), a 2018 Pinot Noir produced with grapes from the Chehalem Mountains in Oregon's Willamette Valley, sold out in under an hour.
So how do you go about fulfilling that demand in the future? They bought a vineyard, of course. In fact, the soon-to-be 30-year-old shooting guard appears to be the first active NBA player to own his own vineyard.
"It's been just over a year since we announced the McCollum Heritage 91 label, but for far longer Elise and I have had the privilege of exploring various vineyard sites throughout the Willamette Valley," McCollum explained. "As we explored the long-term vision of McCollum Heritage 91 and beyond, we truly craved enhancing our sense of place, which is represented by the acquisition of this beautiful property."
The still-to-be-named vineyard is a 318-acre property in the Willamette Valley's Yamhill-Carlton AVA, located just west of the Chehalem Mountains where the label's grapes are currently grown. According to an announcement, the farm — which borders Resonance Vineyard — features "multiple micro-climates, a five-acre reservoir, several irrigation ponds, a rock quarry and a nursery operation."
"When you hear that innovative, giving, talented and creative people like CJ and Elise make a commitment to the Willamette Valley, it just further affirms the region's reputation for quality," Morgen McLaughlin, executive director of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association, added. "CJ has been a wonderful ambassador for Oregon, through basketball, his local philanthropic efforts and now his interest in making top quality wines from the Willamette Valley."
The McCollums say they are hoping to begin laying out the vineyard next year, working with local experts to find the best clones for the land, implying that it may be some time before wine is actually produced from grapes grown on the site. So in the meantime, McCollum Heritage 91 wines will continue to be produced with their current, founding partner, Adelsheim Vineyard. And speaking of, the 2019 Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir goes on sale on September 27.