Yao Ming bring Napa to China with popular wine label

July 19, 2013 8:34:59 PM PDT
Retired NBA star Yao Ming has a thriving start-up in the Bay Area. It's just a small Napa Valley winery, but it generates enormous demand and a bountiful return on investment.

For Yao, it's another slam dunk -- off the court and in the Napa Valley vineyards. He started his boutique winery a couple of years ago. He leases vineyards and production space at a custom crush facility in St. Helena.

His wines are sold almost exclusively in China. The rapidly emerging middle class just can't get enough if Yao Family Wines.

They pay a whopping $650 for his reserve cabernet and $150 for his flagship cabernet.

"With economy growing, people, they want to experience something different," Yao said. "They drink a lot if wines because if business dinner or something like social mingle stuff."

Although the Chinese do consume a lot if wine, it's often the home grown rice wine which can be much stronger. Yao likes western wine because it creates a more relaxed drinking culture.

"The red wines is bringing you different feelings about life; slow down, peaceful and enjoy wine with family and friends," he said.

Yao's winery produces less than 5,000 cases a year, but now Yao is introducing a new label, the more moderately priced Napa Crest. He wants "Napa" in the label because he wants the Chinese to get to know the wine growing region which he loves.

"I want people to experience Napa with wine, food, the weather, everything," he said.

Yao's new label Napa Crest will be much cheaper than the cabernet reserve, only $48. They'll be available in the United States next year.


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