The Miami Heat forward built a platform to support Black-owned businesses and launched a partnership with a Napa Valley wine company that’s committed to social justice.

By Nina Friend
November 24, 2020
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Credit: Cécile Boko

Miami Heat forward Maurice “Moe” Harkless loves wine. That isn’t an anomaly within the NBA, where past and present players like Channing Frye and CJ McCollum have expressed such a deep love of wine that they’ve created their own labels, but outside the league it's a different story. “I feel like the fact that I love wine and know about wine surprises a lot of people, even people close to me,” Harkless said. “The perception of wine drinking comes off as a snobby, super high-class type of experience. I want to eliminate that stigma.”

Harkless’ interest in wine took off during his time on the Portland Trail Blazers, between 2015 and 2019. Since Portland is so close to Oregon wine country, places like the Dundee Hills and the Willamette Valley, Harkless and a couple of teammates would go to tastings on days off. “When we first started going to wineries, it would be two guys, but then it turned into six or seven guys all going together on an off day.”

Shortly after the pandemic hit, Harkless began hosting a “Wine Wednesdays” series on LeBron James’ Instagram platform Uninterrupted, where he spoke with sommeliers and other NBA players about various aspects of the wine industry. Through these conversations, Harkless was able to further his own wine education while also showing his followers a side of him they might not have seen before. He tried to do his part to diffuse the idea that wine is only for certain types of people. “Wine is a universal tool to be enjoyed by everybody,” he said. 

Around the same time, Harkless also started using his platform to fight for racial equity and social justice. He turned his personal website into a hub of resources for Black-owned businesses, including wine companies, and ways to support Black lives and Black rights. Soon after, he learned about The Prisoner Wine Company, a Napa Valley winery whose parent company, Constellation Brands, has committed to donating more than $100 million to equal justice initiatives over the next decade. Harkless decided to connect his love of wine with his platform, called Black Lives Now, and announced a partnership with The Prisoner Wine Company.

The partnership is still in early stages, but Harkless said he’s looking forward to continuing the conversation and contributing to the fight. “I’m excited about being able to give back to the community with a company like The Prisoner Wine Company who’s also interested in making change.”