Why NBA Player CJ McCollum Just Bought His Own Vineyard

Portland Trail Blazers player CJ McCollum and his wife, Elise, have not only released their own wine label, McCollum Heritage 91, but they've also bought a vineyard where they plan to grow their own grapes for their wines. The idea of owning a vineyard came about after the release of McCollum Heritage 91's 2018 Pinot Noir was launched, which sold out in under an hour. What better way to expand their label, but to also actually grow the grapes to make such wine themselves?

"It's been just over a year since we announced the McCollum Heritage 91 label, but for far longer Elise and I have had the privilege of exploring various vineyard sites throughout the Willamette Valley," he told Food & Wine. "As we explored the long-term vision of McCollum Heritage 91 and beyond, we truly craved enhancing our sense of place, which is represented by the acquisition of this beautiful property."

A little sliver of wine paradise

The McCollum's new vineyard, located in the Willamette Valley's Yamhill-Carlton AVA in Oregon, is set on 318 acres — parts of which include a reservoir, quarry, and ponds (via Food & Wine). But why did they choose the Willamette Valley for their vineyard? It all has to do with a quick taste test. During one particular wine tasting, the basketball player tried eight different wines, commenting on their characteristics and his likes and dislikes as he went along. Turns out the three he liked best were made from grapes grown in volcanic soil, much like that of the Willamette Valley (via Robb Report).

"He was looking for more pristine red fruit and the elegant structure that you can often get from volcanic soil in the Willamette Valley," said Gina Hennen, a wine producer from Adelsheim Vineyard. CJ and Elise have yet to name their vineyard, but one thing is for sure, if it's as successful as their wine label has already been, it will be a slam dunk.