Center stage | Former NBA star Yao Ming opens tasting room in Napa Valley

yao ming family wines tasting room opening st helena napa valley photos by tom hinde john stallcup

By Jim Boyce | Former NBA star and current celebrity wine brand owner Yao Ming opened a tasting room today in St. Helena in Napa Valley. Yao, who founded Yao Family Wines in 2008, has produced his wine via a custom crushing program, under the direction of former Flowers and Kendall-Jackson head honcho Tom Hinde. rather than have his own facilities. That means fans have had no cellar door to visit.

That situation has changed. While Yao made a splash when his first labels were released in 2011, he more recently attracted attention due to this USD3 million crowd-funding project. Among the goals: to open tasting rooms in Napa Valley and his hometown Shanghai. Looks like part one is done and the step will be back home.

We can also expect that Napa tasting room to be a big draw for tourists from his homeland.

“I was the Asian concierge at Stag’s Leap Wine cellars for three years,” said John Stallcup, of Stallcup & Associates Brandwork, in an email yesterday. “The number one question that visitors from China asked was, ‘Where is Yao Ming’s winery?'”

(Note: The sign photo is via Yao Family Wines social media.)

california wine dinner beijing china ambassador max baucus melodee hanes michael rosenblum yao ming alex chen chris beros (15)
Yao Ming at a California wine event at the U.S. Embassy in China.

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