NBA Star CJ McCollum Ventures Into Sparkling Wine

The new Blanc de Blancs commemorates McCollum's 31st birthday.

CJ McCollum
Photo: Justin Tucker / nine80four

After the successful launch of two Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noirs that sold out in less than an hour, two Willamette Valley rosés, and a 2019 One Barrel Challenge Chardonnay, CJ McCollum is venturing into sparkling wines with his first ever Blanc de Blancs wine. The 2016 Heritage 91 sparkling from the New Orleans Pelicans point guard and wine connoisseur boasts aromas of white peach, crushed stone, and freshly baked bread.

The release is part of McCollum's 31st birthday celebration, and is available for purchase online for $133. The price is a reference to the "3" on the player's New Orleans Pelicans jersey.

McCollum hopes other people will enjoy his wine during any number of occasions, big and small. "When I got drafted into the NBA, I drank sparkling wine. Sparkling wine has always been special to me," says McCollum. "As I got older, I got more comfortable with drinking sparkling wines outside of purely celebratory moments. Like when your day finishes the way you like, it's just little things like that that I want this wine a part of that."

Despite McCollum's love of wine, he didn't always have access to the industry. "Growing up, I wasn't exposed to what goes into making wine, or what goes into drinking wine," he says. "As a Black man who is now in the wine world, I would encourage more Black men and women, and minorities in general, to learn more about wine and be open to exploring it."

CJ McCollum
Justin Tucker / nine80four

In an effort to continue making wine more accessible and encouraging everyone to enjoy it, McCollum welcomes those who are interested in learning more about wine and the wine industry.

"Start with what you know you like," he notes. "I was a big fan of red [wine], and initially only drank that. But as I continued to get older, growing up, and evolving in the wine space in terms of my palette, I became more open to other blends and I suggest other people do the same."

McCollum Heritage 91 is not only a reflection of McCollum's passion for wine, but also his desire to create a brand that honors his legacy. Throughout the process, he spent countless hours with Adelsheim Vineyard winemaker Gina Hennen to refine his preferences and ultimate vision for the growing brand.

As with his earlier wines, McCollum Heritage 91 sparkling Blanc de Blancs is likely to sell out quickly. Rest assured, as part of its vineyard development efforts, the team recently purchased a 318-acre vineyard property in the Yamihill-Carlton AVA, so this is just the start for McCollum's sparkling future.

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