Sports Stars Shine in Wine Country

Does anyone really buy a product, like a bottle of wine, just because it carries a celebrity endorsement?

I’m not usually swayed by star power, but I was curious when I heard about two Livermore Valley wines that carry the name of superstar golfer Annika Sorenstam.

Annika 2008 Chardonnay

The 2008 Annika chardonnay ($40) is made by fifth-generation winemaker Karl Wente from grapes grown on the Wente Vineyards estate, which just happens to border the wine pioneer family’s golf course.

The Course at Wente Vineyards is a real test of golfing skills. The hilly par-72 layout was designed by Aussie golfer Greg Norman. The PGA star, by the way, also has a lineup of red and white wines from Napa and Australia bottled under the Greg Norman Estates label.

The Annika chardonnay, like its namesake, is a bold and rich example that beams golden in the glass. It’s lush tropical fruit and apple flavors follow a pleasant, citrusy nose. I’d match it with rich dishes, especially anything with a cream sauce.

The chardonnay’s red stablemate is a smooth 2006 Livermore Valley syrah ($60) that is blended with 25 percent cabernet sauvignon from Livermore and Napa valleys. It starts with a sweet strawberry nose that leads to red cherry fruit highlights on the tongue with just a hint of cocoa on the back end.

Wente & Sorenstam

Sorenstam got into the wine trade after meeting Carolyn Wente, who helps manage the family winery operations, in 2008. That was the year before the LPGA star retired from competition to focus on her other business interests.

Click here to watch our video interview with Sorenstam.

More Stars in the Vineyard

NFL football announcer John Madden (who coached the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl victory in 1977) owns a 20-acre Livermore vineyard called “Madden Ranch.” Madden supplies grapes to several wineries, including Fleming Jenkins, a Los Gatos-based winery owned by world renowned figure skater Peggy Fleming and her husband, Dr. Greg Jenkins.

Another NFL luminary, former San Francisco 49ers president Carmen Policy, owns Policy Vineyards in Yountville where winemaker Thomas Brown makes a high-end cabernet sauvignon. The first vintage from the 10-acre Napa Valley vineyard was harvested in 2006. The current vintage available through the winery, Casa Piena, is a 2007 cabernet that sells for $150/bottle.

There’s a clutch of other sports stars involved in the Napa Valley wine trade. Two of the best-known figures include PGA legend Arnold Palmer (who has his own Arnold Palmer Wines label) and race car driver Mario Andretti (who owns the Andretti Winery in Napa).

Note to Readers

Would the name of a celebrity or sports star entice you to buy their wine? Have you tried any of these wines? If so, what did you think of them? I’d like to know what you think and will post comments in a future blog.


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2 Responses to “Sports Stars Shine in Wine Country”

  1. Rick Mirer Says:

    Interesting read. You need to check out and our wines. Rob Lawson is doing a great job for us. Fun project and fun business.

    – Rick

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