Dwyane Wade or CJ McCollum – Who Currently Has a Strong Hold in the Wine Industry?
Both former and current NBA stars have interests that go beyond the confines of the basketball court. With the passage of time, the mixture of sports and the entrepreneurial world has become a defining trend among these athletes. Be it Shaquille O’Neal and Magic Johnson’s interest in fast food or Michael Jordan’s dominant presence in the sneakers industry, people associated with the NBA have made use of their hard-earned wealth to venture into the world of business. Amongst them are Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade and current New Orleans Pelicans star CJ McCollum. Both Wade and McCollum are part of a business that has not been explored by many athletes before; the wine industry.
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Along with their wealth, the two sportsmen have made use of their passion and never-ending influence to create a long-lasting presence for their individual wine businesses. Taking the above point into consideration, the author will be stating his opinion on who currently has a stronger hold in the wine industry: Dwyane Wade or CJ McCollum.
Dwyane Wade has been involved with the wine industry for almost a decade
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Dwyane Wade has spent many years in the limelight. It has allowed him to experience the finer things in life and grow an appreciation for them. Wade has often stated his love for the great wines from Napa Valley, which originated from the food and wine he experienced alongside his former Miami Heat teammates LeBron James and Chris Bosh. This newfound love invoked in him a desire to make a mark in the world of viniculture himself.
In 2014, Wade teamed up with the Pahlmeyer family to start his project titled Wade Cellars. The very first creation, titled the ‘Wade Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley’, was launched in China in 2015. Having received a positive response in its trial round, the company soon expanded its wine line-up to include Chenin Blanc and rosé. After being featured on the cover of ‘Wine Enthusiast’ in 2016, Wade expanded his business operations to the US a couple of years later.
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To better understand the industry, Wade traveled to places like Burgundy and Piedmont to learn from winemakers and other experts. He hired a “Champagne connoisseur” that introduced him to ‘fizzy French wines’.
Through ‘Wade Cellars,’ the former NBA star is leaving a mark in the wine brewing world by attempting to produce something better and more accessible to the general public.
“When I got into the wine space I didn’t just do it to drink wine and make great wine. I got into it to make sure that wine could be accessible to the community that I come from,” said Wade during an interview with the Financial Times.
The Flash has definitely held true to his word about providing his products at an affordable rate. Everyday wines like ‘Three by Wade chenin blanc’ and ‘Three by Wade rosé’ can be bought for less than $20. Wade Cellars was successful in putting the NBA legend on the map. For his effort in creating a memorable brand, Wade was named to the executive board of the School of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis.
CJ McCollum’s wine entrepreneurship had an interesting start
Similarly to Wade, CJ McCollum developed a passion for the fine drink. The NBA player created ‘McCollum Heritage 91’ to transfer his love to something worthwhile. McCollum’s first test market for his wine was created under unusual circumstances.
Back in 2020, McCollum and a couple of other basketball players were housed in the bio-secure bubble at Walt Disney World in Florida. Bringing over 84 wine bottles with himself, including a few of his very own, McCollum shared his creation with the rest of the players. The New Orleans Pelicans guard remembered how the then Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard pulled him aside and gave his review.
“Hey, that wine you gave me was good,” said Leonard. “A lot of people don’t know I drink wine, and I don’t know a lot about it, but I know that sh*t was good.”
This vote of confidence allowed McCollum to go ahead and establish his dream in a prominent manner. Forming a partnership with Adelsheim Vineyard, the 2016 NBA Most Improved Player launched a brand that added six new types of wines to the market. McCollum took another step to be on par with his potential competitors and acquired a 318-acre vineyard property, the first ever NBA player to do so.
McCollum has taken countless hours from his busy schedule to play a more hands-on role in his project. He is working alongside winemakers like Gina Hennen. All in an effort to ensure ‘McCollum Heritage 91’ will be remembered as a pivotal part of the 32-year-old’s legacy.
Who Reigns Supreme?
Both Dwyane Wade and CJ McCollum have established their presence as prominent ‘vintners’. However, when it comes to choosing the best amongst them, the author will have to side with the Heat star. When making this comparison, one crucial factor to consider is experience.
It’s no secret that Wade has spent more time in the game, enabling ‘Wade Cellars’ not only to introduce a wider range of products but also to innovate in a more streamlined manner. McCollum, on the other hand, has recently started to find its footing. Had it not been for the aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic, McCollum may have possibly progressed his business at a faster pace.
Dwyane Wade’s work with wine isn’t just for the sake of business. For him, it holds a deep meaning as well. “I got into it to be a voice for the black winemakers and vineyard owners; to show how wine can be a gateway to careers that have never been presented as a real option in the community of color,” said Wade during an interview.
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By placing himself forward as a staunch representative of his community, the 3x NBA champion is creating more interest in his wines and creating awareness that there is more to ‘Wade Cellars’ than meets the eye.
Dwyane Wade’s brand reportedly boasts about being a perfect blend of luxury and affordability. This is something that cannot be said by everyone. Despite facing some hard times, the brand has not broken away from its established rule and continues to provide what was promised.
Dwyane Wade’s stronghold in the wine industry is a testament to his enduring commitment, strategic approach, and authentic connection to the world of viticulture. CJ McCollum’s entry into the wine industry is promising. However, it will take a certain amount of time and dedication to build a formidable presence that can allow him to compete on the same level as Wade.
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Editorial Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of EssentiallySports.