Football season has begun, and with it come the inevitable tailgate parties and groups gathering around the TV. What to drink, you might ask? Good question, and one that I’m gonna answer with a short list.
What could be better than kicking off the season with a bottle of wine from one of your favorite players? That’s right -- more than a few QBs, CBs, and even coaches have gotten into the wine game. Check out this who’s who of kick-off wines!
7.) Joe Montana - While leading the San Francisco 49ers through many successful seasons with the highest passer rating in the NFC, Joe Montana developed quite a reputation. One has to wonder if naming his wine Montagia is gonna help him change that rep. Probably not, but the fact that this wine -- created in partnership with Napa Valley’s Beringer Vineyards -- is sold almost exclusively at benefit auctions certainly will!
6.) Dick Vermeil - Hall of Fame coach Dick Vermeil may be most famous for leading the 1999 St. Louis Rams to their improbable Super Bowl victory, but he’s now hung his hat in Napa Valley where he is producing some astoundingly good Vermeil Wines from varieties like Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, and even Charbono. Seems Dick still likes the underdogs! (By the way, we love that Charbono.)
5.) Rick Mirer - Rick Mirer moved around the NFL a lot. As a journeyman quarterback, he even played a season for my New York Jets. Rick has since decided to stay put in Napa Valley, where he runs the Mirror wine label. With the luxury of a home base, Rick can now focus, and with only two wines he seems to be focusing hard on Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.
4.) Drew Bledsoe - Growing up in Walla Walla, Washington meant that Drew, the famed New England Patriots quarterback, had vines in his backyard (well, almost). So, it was no surprise that Drew chose Washington for his winery, Doubleback. We’re not sure what the name means, but it’s probably a lot better than 19 and 0 (no)!
3.) Mike Ditka - Iron Mike Ditka has his own brand of wine, and with a name like Kick Ass Red, you’ll have to buy it. No, really, or else you you’re gonna get your ass… you know. Fortunately, Mike is also producing great varietal wines from vines in Mendocino like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Pinot Grigio.
2.) Terry Hoage - Terry Hoage won a Super Bowl with the 1992 Washington Redskins as a defensive back. Since his retirement from the NFL in 1996, it’s been all offense for Terry, crushing his competitors off the field and in the vineyard where he continues to win awards for his superb Terry Hoage Vineyards Paso Robles Grenache and Syrah.
1.) Gary Eberle - Gary may not have had a famous football career (though he was a Penn State star back in the day!), but he is famous for kick ass wines (I wonder if Ditka knows about this?) as well as almost single-handedly establishing the Paso Robles wine region. His Eberle Winery produces a great array of wines and is one of our favorite Paso producers.
Honorable Mention: Charles Woodson - The Green Bay Packer’s corner back is behind the TwentyFour label, which produces a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stag’s Leap district. Being an active player, Charles can’t actively promote his wine (something about preserving the image of the league -- and, uh, I gotta tell you, fine wine is the least of your worries, folks!) I'm also guessing that's why TwentyFour seems to keep such a low profile. We can't even find the wine!