Saturday, April 14, 2012

Grip It and Sip It

A number of professional golfers have a passion for the game, and the grape, evidenced by so many of them getting involved in the wine business, either lending their names to a private label vintage or actually investing in vineyards to produce their own reds and whites or anything in between.  The following players definitely can all handle a corkscrew as deftly as they can a lob wedge.

John Daly: Yes, even downscale JD is associated with this upscale pursuit, and although you might joke that he's more likely to be a connoisseur of Ripple and Cold Duck, his John Daly Wines label was introduced in 2008 and has produced a Chardonnay, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and even what he calls a "Perfect Round" Bordeaux blend.

Mike Weir:  The Canadian started the Mike Weir Estate Winery in 2005 to showcase wines from the Niagara region of Canada and upstate New York.  Proceeds from the sale of Weir wines goes directly to the Mike Weir Foundation to support children with medical or other needs, including his first vintage in 2007, a Cabernet Merlot.

Annika Sorenstam:  The Swedish star loves to cook and occasionally have a sip on the side as she toils in the kitchen.  The Annika label is produced by Wente Vineyards in California's Livermore Valley.  Her first effort was the Annika Vineyards Syrah, launched in 2009.

Luke Donald:  The Englishman and product of Northwestern University has the Luke Donald Collection in partnership with the Terlato Wine Group of Napa Valley, California, that began with a claret-style wine blend in 2008.

Nick Faldo:  The six time major champion's label is produced by Katnook Vineyards in Coonamara, Australia, a vineyard known for its fruity red wines, particularly a Faldo Shiraz and a signature Cabernet Sauvignon.

Arnold Palmer:  The King's non-alcoholic beverage of choice is a blend of ice tea and lemonade that bears his name in restaurants, bars and supermarkets around the country.  In 2003 he also partnered with the Luna Vineyards of Napa Valley, owned by longtime friend Mike Moone, to produce an Arnold Palmer label of premium wines marketed to high-end eateries.

Gary Player:  One of the fittest golfers on the planet always avoids the fries and chocolate cake, but the antioxidants in fine wine suit his healthy lifestyle to a tee.  His Black Knight Wine is produced by Quoin Rock Winery in South Africa, launched with a 1959 Muirfield vintage that is part of the Gary Player Major Championship Series, which will introduce 18 different vintages over the next decade.

Greg Norman:  The Shark's vast business empire includes the Greg Norman Estates label, which produces reds, whites, and a sparkling wines from vineyards he owns in Austalia and California.  Sour grapes?  Ask Chris Evert, his latest ex-wife.

Ernie Els:  The three-time major champion has been in the wine business for quite a while, partnering with his friend Jean Engelbrecht in a South African vineyard that bears both their names.  The first vintage came out in 2000, and there are five different varieties of Bordeaux wines under the label.  A Big Easy on the palate, for sure.

David Frost:  No professional golfer knows more about making wine than the South African native, who grew up and worked on his family's vineyard when he wasn't off working on his golf game.  Frost bought his own 300 acre vineyard in South Africa in 1994, and his David Frost Wine Estate released its first vintage in 1997.  Frosty also produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz as well as what he calls "Par Excellence," a traditional red blend.