Apr 8, 2024 - Food and Drink

Pelicans' CJ McCollum brings wine brand to New Orleans

CJ McCollum, standing in an industrial looking space, pours a glass of white wine into a wine glass.

CJ McCollum is a Pelicans player with his own wine brand. Photo: Justin Tucker/nine80four

The New Orleans Pelicans shooting guard CJ McCollum is the picture of the quintessential celebrity you'd want to go to dinner with.

Why it matters: Because he's going to pick the very best bottle of wine.

Catch up quick: McCollum has been with the Pels since a 2022 trade with Portland.

  • By then, the player was already known as an intense wine nerd.
  • During his time in the pandemic-era NBA bubble, McCollum kept his room within the crisp 50s, turning his hotel into a live-in wine cellar, ESPN reported at the time.

Turns out, he wasn't done.

  • Later that year, McCollum and his wife, Elise, who introduced him to wines in the first place, launched their own label.
  • It was so popular, selling out in about an hour, they realized they needed more production. In other words: More grapes.
  • The pair bought a 300-acre Oregon vineyard in 2021.

We caught up with McCollum just as his brand, McCollum Heritage, launches in New Orleans with local distribution at the Wine Seller and within some Smoothie King Center seating areas.

  • This week, the brand also launches two new wines, a 2021 Chardonnay and 2021 Bryan Creek Pinot noir, available online.

What it means to bring McCollum Heritage to New Orleans: "I'm so grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the city's rich wine and culinary scene."

  • "As I continue to embrace my home in New Orleans, it's an honor to share my passion for wine with the local community."

The latest with his new vineyard: "The land offers incredible possibilities," he says, and since 2022, he and Elise have "been working on a comprehensive vineyard plan, collaborating with Willamette Valley vineyard experts."

  • But for now, as that property gets up and running, McCollum Heritage is producing with Adelsheim Vineyard.
CJ McCollum leaps toward Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose back is to the camera, with a basketball.
CJ McCollum of the New Orleans Pelicans passes the ball over Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

On his involvement with production: "I have a hand in every step of the way when it comes to product development and the customer journey, including marketing and design to the actual winemaking process."

  • "One of the most exciting things I've learned about the wine industry is how collaborative it is. Everyone has been incredibly helpful and welcoming."

His favorite New Orleans restaurant wine lists: "We love places like N7, Doris Metropolitan and R'evolution. They all have great wine lists."

On being the Pels' "go-to guy" for wine recommendations: "Larry Nance loves rosé and frequently requests it on road trips."

  • "But young guys like Trey Murphy and Jose Alvarado have also taken to exploring the wine scene as well and come to me for wine advice. They come to me both for their own wine interests and to help choose wine for their families, as well."

Worth noting: The Pelicans are in Portland on Tuesday to play the Trailblazers.

  • Tipoff is at 9pm.

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