F&W Game Changers: Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade walked into the wine world through what he calls "the back door."
"I didn't go to the number one schools in the world. I just fell in love with what wine represented and the community it brought together, and I wanted to see my community be part of it," he said. In 2014, the three-time NBA champion and self-proclaimed wine lover founded his wine brand, Wade Cellars, in partnership with Pahlmeyer winery in Napa. While Wade initially set out to make a wine that was affordable and accessible, his vision has blossomed into something much larger. Now, he wants to reshape the wine world itself.
In October 2021, Wade was appointed to the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology Executive Leadership Board. The school's wine education program is celebrated as one of the best in the world, and Wade sees the board as a team. "Nothing happens without every board member daring to be honest about the temperature in the wine community," he said. "It's going to be a team effort to get the wine industry to a place where it looks different in the next 20 years than it has looked in the last 40."
For Wade, the board seat is an opportunity to question the status quo. "How can we get our of-age youth, from all communities of minorities, to understand that this is a viable career?" he asked. "If wine education is too expensive, how are we building programs to make sure that it's not about the money?"
Wade's vision for the future starts with encouraging the wine world to think of itself in a different light. "I know the wine space comes off as intimidating. You look at a wine bottle, some of them have five names that you can't pronounce. I want it to be a place that's open for all of us to enjoy and be part of."
And that's where Wade's basketball background comes into play. To Wade, wine isn't so different from sports; they both bring people together. "You can be from different walks of life and come together over your favorite team and the game that you love," he said. "To me, the wine industry is very similar. We can vibe out and get to know each other through a glass of wine."
Wade might've started his wine journey through the back door, but he's now firmly planted at the front door, holding it wide open toward a future that's more inclusive than ever.