Being the top 10 tallest NBA player of all time, Yao Ming broke a new record of being the tallest winemaker in Napa Valley by establishing his own wine brand in 2008.
The former basketball player fell in love with California wine during his golden days in the US, where he would always pair steak dinners with Napa Valley Cabernet in Houston, he recalled in an interview with Decanter.
Recognising California has a good reputation in China as a great vacation spot, he decided to share the taste of Napa wine with his homeland. In 2008, he established his own wine company Yao Family Wines with Tom Hinde, the former Director of Winemaking for Flowers Vineyard and Winery.
In 2011, Yao retired from NBA and launched his first wine brand Yao Ming Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. The “Yao Ming” range is priced over RMB 1500 (USD 235).
In 2015, Yao released the more affordable range Gold Peak, a red blend produced with grapes sourced from Lodi. The Gold Peak Cabernet Sauvignon series is ranked as the most popular wines in its Tmall store priced at RMB 1999 (USD 313) for 6 bottles.
Yao Ming Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2016 has received several 90+ points from famous wine critics and media including James Suckling, Wine Spectator and the Wine Advocate.
The April 2014 issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine rated Napa Crest Red Wine Blend with 91 Points, Yao Ming Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with 95 Points and Yao Ming Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon for 98 Points, which is the highest score in the April 2014 Buying Guide.
Yao Family Wines also became the first winery in the world to offer wine pairing with NFT. In April this year, Yao Family Wines paired its 200 bottles of exclusive wine “THE CHOP” with a limited edition NFT.
A special auction was held for bottle #11 of THE CHOP and NFT #11, a one-of-one offering in homage to the year that Yao released his first vintage and the number he wore during his NBA career.
THE CHOP 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is produced from a single barrel of wine from Rutherford District of Napa Valley. The wine received 96+ points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.