There is something that is both alluring and kitschy about purchasing a celebrity-endorsed product, and wine is no exception. And while many people are familiar with the wine-tastic exploits of celebrities like Francis Ford Coppola and Sam Neil, many people are surprised to learn about the large number of famous athletes who own and/or operate wineries or vineyards. If you’ve ever wondered about the personal taste preferences of your favorite athletes, you may want to search out some of the wines produced by these titans of sport. Here is a partial list of current and former athletes who own wineries or vineyards. (A full list of celeb winery owners can be seen here.)
Jeff Gordon, racecar driver
Gordon is the brains and namesake of the Jeff Gordon Winery, a collaborative effort between Gordon and August Briggs Wines. It is located in Napa.
Peggy Fleming, figure skater
Fleming won a gold medal in 1968 at Grenoble, and still provides commentary during many professional skating events. She founded Fleming Jenkins Vineyards and Winery with her husband Ken Jenkins in the Santa Cruz mountains of California.
Mario Andretti, racecar driver
Co-founded by Andretti and the CEO of K-Mart, Andretti winery is based in Napa Valley.
Drew Bledsoe, football quarterback
Former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe’s Double Back Wine brand is based in Walla Walla Washington. The brand is a partnership between Bledsoe and Leonetti Cellars.
Arnold Palmer, golfer
Arnold Palmer Wines, in conjunction with Luna Vineyards, produces wine in the state of California.
Mike Ditka, NFL player/coach
Perhaps best known for his eleven year stint coaching the NFL’s Chicago Bears, Mike Ditka also is very involved in the wine industry. Mike Ditka Wines, operated out of Mendocino Country in California, is operated in cooperation with another winery, the Mendocino Wine Company.
Wayne Gretsky, hockey player
Gretsky’s No. 99 Estates Winery was created as a partnership between Gretsky and Creekside Estates, another wine producer. The grapes are grown and processed in Canada, not far from Niagara Falls.
Charles Woodson, NFL cornerback
Packers cornerback Charles Woodson is involved with his wine company, TwentyFour Wines, but can not actively promote the wine with his likeness due to NFL regulations. Once he retires, he will be able to become the face of the company, so to speak.
Ernie Els, Golfer
South African wines have slowly been growing in popularity and prestige over the past few years, so it comes as no surprise that South African native and pro-golfer Ernie Els owns his own vineyard, Ernie Els Wines.