When most people think of NBA veteran Dwyane Wade, viniculture probably isn’t at the top of the list of things that come to mind. And sure, he’s a basketball legend with three NBA championship rings and countless other accolades, but well before he retired from the game in 2019, Wade’s been hard at work establishing his own presence in the world of wine. In 2014, the star teamed up with legendary Napa winemaker Pahlmeyer for his own label, called Wade Cellars, which has earned accolades from industry publications like Wine Enthusiast for its wine line-up, which includes cabernet sauvignon, chenin blanc, and rosé.
In creating his own wine brand, Wade immersed himself in learning everything he could about wine. He traveled to Burgundy and Piedmont to learn from winemakers and sommeliers, and even hired his own “Champagne connoisseur” to help him learn how to love fizzy French wines. Now, he’s a growing voice in California’s winemaker scene, serving on UC Davis’s Executive Leadership Board for the Department of Viticulture and Enology. This month, Wade also launched When We Gather, a dinner series in six cities across the country that highlights the work of Black sommeliers and chefs. “This world of wine wasn’t something that was presented to me growing up as a kid in the inner city, it wasn’t an option” Wade says. “But now I’m getting the opportunity to not only drink wine and enjoy wine, now I’m learning about wine and seeing how wine brings people together from all over the world. This is what When We Gather is all about.”