Could Wine Ever Compete With Beer as Football Fans' Drink of Choice?
Now that football season is over, what’s going to keep fans interested in their teams? One answer: wine.
Many clubs and even the National Football League itself have become involved in wine sales. Not only in the stadiums, but wine with team and league logos can be found in retail outlets in a number of states. This idea piqued my interest when reading a story in Somm TV about former players and the wineries they've started. Another article in Wine Spectator broke down the story even further.
Having been raised in New England, I was very familiar with the Patriots and quarterback Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady's predecessor. Bledsoe knew early on that football would not be his only career, so he began to make plans to return to Washington state and make wine after he hung up his cleats. After retiring, he teamed up with Josh McDaniels (different from the Josh McDaniels who is the current coach of the Las Vegas Raiders) and created Doubleback, a name that plays on the theme of Bledsoe returning home. The quality has been so good that it has made Wine Spectator’s top 100 list.
Vince Ferragamo is another former quarterback and the owner of Vince Ferragamo Vineyards. When asked about the parallels between winemaking and football, he said, “Both require passion and a willingness to get in the trenches and get dirty. Both require a measure of physical and mental preparation. You also need perseverance to succeed in both—when something bad happens on the field or in the vineyard, you just have to shake it off and keep going.” Other notable player-slash-winemakers include Terry Hoage, Charles Woodson and Dan Marino.
Former players are not the only ones involved in wine. Owners and coaches have tried their hand, as well. Norma Hunt is the widow of Lamar Hunt, the former owner of the Kansas City Chiefs. She developed a vineyard and made a wine named Perfect Season. John Elway of Denver Broncos fame created 7Cellars, Carmen Policy of the San Francisco 49ers was involved with Casa Piena and famous coach Dick Vermeil created Vermeil Wines.
The league itself has its own "official" wine, Babe, and nearly every team has its own logoed wines. National brands like Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi make wines for teams like the Bears, Rams and Giants. The Jets, Titans, Panthers and Cowboys, meanwhile, have their own wines, and the Packers, Texans, Chiefs, Patriots, Saints, Eagles and 49ers use wines made by Mano's, a highly regarded specialty bottler located in Kansas City (although the source of the wines is vague). Not all of these wines are meant for stadium consumption. Some are merely souvenirs for people to uncork at home and to keep the fan base engaged even after the Super Bowl is over.
Despite all that, will wine ever replace beer as the top beverage choice in most stadiums? The ruling on the field: highly unlikely.
Bob McGinn has spent his entire career in the wine industry—forming wine clubs, working in wine sales marketing and engaging in all facets of the winemaking process, including vine management, fermentation and yeast analysis. He has developed wine programs for companies such as Marriott, Sheraton and Smith & Wollensky, and consults with local restaurants. You can read more of McGinn’s work at gulfcoastwinejournal.com.