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NBA's CJ McCollum Crosses Over to Oregon Pinot
NBA's CJ McCollum Crosses Over to Oregon Pinot

The Portland Trail Blazers sharpshooter teamed with Adelsheim Vineyard to create his just-announced McCollum Heritage 91 label, forging a bond with his backyard wine region

Portland Trail Blazers star CJ McCollum doesn't have to travel far to score great wine. The record-breaking shooting guard–slash-wine connoisseur has been in Oregon since the team picked him up in the first round of the 2013 NBA draft, and he's trained his palate on Willamette Valley Pinot. Late last month, McCollum announced the fruits of his off-court regimen: McCollum Heritage 91, a 2018 Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir he made with Adelsheim Vineyard. It’s an ode to his childhood, his fiancée and his state's all-star grape.

McCollum, 28, made waves in 2019 when he broke a franchise record by scoring 37 points in a Game 7 win over the Denver Nuggets to advance the Trail Blazers to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since the 2000 NBA playoffs. Adelsheim joined the roster soon after: The winery helped create the Blazers' 50th anniversary commemorative wines, and are now working with the team to raise COVID-19 relief funds for the community.

"It's crazy how this all came to life with me being drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers and falling into the goldmine of Pinot Noir here in Oregon," McCollum told Wine Spectator. He's in good company with the Blazers, whose top tasters include Carmelo Anthony and Damian Lillard. The longtime fan was ready to jump into the wine game, "go[ing] through the process of what it's like to create a wine from start to finish."

In the early days of Heritage 91's development, McCollum blind-tasted several wines with Adelsheim winemaker Gina Hennen and was immediately drawn to flavors from volcanic soils. The resulting Pinot Noir is a blend sourced from three contiguous estate vineyard properties. "[CJ] is so engaged in the entire process and genuinely wants to learn everything he can about the business," Hennen said. Elaborating on their shared philosophy, Hennen added that "the final blend should contain echoes of each vineyard and yet be dominated by none of them."

The 2018 Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir will be available for purchase Sept. 15 for $50; McCollum says more releases are in the works. He took a break from poking around his 600-bottle cellar to speak with editorial assistant Shawn Zylberberg about his new wine's genesis and falling in love with his local wine region, as well as his teammates' reaction to the news that he'd become a winemaker.

Courtesy of McCollum Heritage 91
www.winespectator.com