Yao Family Wines is a Napa Valley producer founded in 2011 by Yao Ming, the Chinese-born, five-time NBA All Star. Now retired from the Houston Rockets, Yao Ming is the majority owner in Yao Family Wines, which has entered the wine market with a luxury Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Napa Valley vineyards. Yao has said in interviews that he developed a taste for Cabernet Sauvignon while in the NBA, and that his new Napa venture eventually will own its own vineyards. Tom Hinde, formerly general manager of Kendall-Jackson and president of Flowers Vineyard, is the winemaker at Yao Family Wines and is a minority shareholder. The winery’s debut release is the 2009 Yao Ming Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which is 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Five thousand cases were made. There will also be a reserve bottling, consisting of about 500 cases.
Napa Valley AVA is the most famous winemaking region in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. With nearly 43,000 acres of vineyards and more than 300 wineries, it is the heart of fine wine production in the United States. Winemaking started in Napa in 1838 when George C. Yount planted grapes and began producing wine commercially. Other winemaking pioneers followed in the late 19th century, including the founders of Charles Krug, Schramsberg, Inglenook and Beaulieu Vineyards. An infestation of phylloxera, an insect that attacks vine roots, and the onset of Prohibition nearly wiped out the nascent Napa wine industry in the early 20th century. But by the late 1950s and early 1960s Robert Mondavi and other visionaries were producing quality wines easily distinguishable from the mass-produced jug wines made in California’s Central Valley. Napa Valley’s AVA was established in 1983, and today there are 16 sub-appellations within the Napa Valley AVA. Many grapes grow well in Napa’s Mediterranean climate, but the region is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay is also very successfully cultivated, and about 30% of the AVA’s acreage is planted to white grapes, with the majority of those grapes being Chardonnay,
One of the most widely grown grape varieties, it can be found in nearly every wine growing region. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a hardy vine that produces a full-bodied wine with high tannins and great aging potential.