It’s a sunny spring day in Los Angeles, the kind of day on which Dwyane Wade might otherwise be on the golf course–a frequent means of relaxation for him these days, now that he’s two years removed from a legendary NBA career that will undoubtedly land the superstar in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Instead, the 39-year-old Wade is navigating the great indoors, not the back nine. It’s just before noon, and he’ll be busy for the next few hours with a full slate of media Zoom calls, all regarding different areas of his burgeoning business empire.
Wade is retired from playing ball, but “retired’’ hardly seems a fitting word for a man who–among his many current endeavors–does NBA commentary for TNT…runs his own entertainment production company…owns a line of basketball and lifestyle apparel…is partners in a South Florida 800° Woodfired Kitchen franchise…has a new memoir due out in November…is executive producing and hosting a new TBS game show called “The Cube”…and just two weeks before this whirlwind Zoom media day, became a part owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz.
Oh, and he’s also husband to the actress Gabrielle Union–which brought him across the country from South Florida to Los Angeles–and an engaged dad to five kids, one a nephew.
Wade, of course, had various nicknames during his playing days–D-Wade, Flash, WOW, Pookie, Father Prime. Now add another one: Mr. Multi-Tasker. He brings the same tenacity to his post-basketball career that enabled him to star for the Miami Heat while winning three NBA championships.
“It’s not in the calling for me to just focus on one thing. So, Renaissance Man, here I go!’’ Wade tells Cigar and Spirits Magazine, with a laugh.
But it’s one other piece of Wade’s packed portfolio that brings him to C&S on this day–Wade Cellars. It’s a line of four Napa Valley wines that evolved from his playing days when his superstar buddies–Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Chris Paul–began sharing a love of all things vino.
Eventually, that led to Wade visiting northern California for the 2014 harvest. He struck up a friendship with famed Napa winemaker Jayson Pahlmeyer, and over time, the Wade Cellars brand emerged–first with a Wade Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon…and more recently with the company’s “Three by Wade’’ line, an homage to Wade’s old uniform number.
“Three by Wade’’ features a red, a blanc and a rosé–each of them, Wade says, expressions of his personal “journey’’ through the wine world.
As of the spring, Wade’s wines were in 20 markets nationwide, with plans to expand to 23 more on Aug. 1. The 2020 Three by Wade chenin blanc was set to be released on Aug. 1, and was expected to be featured at 370 Whole Foods locations nationwide for two months. And a 2019 cabernet sauvignon is expected to be released in early fall.
Wade discussed his journey…through his life as well as his wines…
by Kevin Kenney \ portraits Bob Metelus
In one article you referred to yourself as an entrepreneur–would that be the best one-word description of your career today, the kind of description that might appear on your business card?
I guess that would be what I would have to go with if I’m going by the worldly terms of what I do. I would say that I’m just someone who got an opportunity to walk through many doors, and I’m someone who’s not afraid to walk through those doors. Even though I may be a little nervous, I may be a little anxious, I’m not afraid to walk through all the doors and I’m not afraid to fail.
That’s the biggest thing that I do, finding your passage in life, trying to find things that make you want to get to out of bed and do them, finding people to work with that make you want to be around them and make you want to learn, want to be in partnership with them and all the things that go with it.
Talking about all the passions in your life, that’s a good segue into your passion for wines, and how Wade Cellars came about. The first vintage of Wade Cellars was 2012, so this is not a new interest.
My interest in wine kind’ve started probably similar to everyone’s. Once I got to the point in life where I was ready to start drinking and felt that I could control my alcohol intake as an athlete, I started with wine first. It was just everybody around me was like, hey you should try this, you should try that.
I feel like I started just like anyone else, and because of the opportunity that I have in business, I had an opportunity to go to Napa, try to learn more about wine, try to go out there and taste some of the best wines in Napa. And I built relationships while I was doing that, and one of my relationships was with the Pahlmeyer family.
So it really started with the Pahlmeyer family. It was a passion project–like, hey, let’s just do something cool, let’s have fun. And it was like, hey, what do you like, what wine do you like right now, what are you drinking? And I just talked to them about what I was drinking. Cabernet was where I plateaued at that time, and we sat down with the winemaker and tried to figure out the best cabernet to start this passion project with. And that was the 2012 Wade Cab.
The Three by Wade wines are all reasonably priced–$40 for the red, $20 for the blanc, $15 for the rosé. I understand that was a big part of your planning for the product, to make it more inclusive.
A lot of it was, I was never exposed to it really in my community–the black community. We weren’t really exposed to wine, whatever the reason was. I’m sure it’s many. But a lot of the wine space is kind’ve off-limits to my community. Now it’s getting better, but before I got in, it was kind’ve like off-limits, that’s kind’ve how we looked at it. So once I got into the wine space, I didn’t want to outprice my community.
My first wine was $95. That’s a lot of money for a wine. So from there, when we thought about building the Three by Wade brand, it was all about, hey, we’ve got to build this brand so the price has to be at a place where I don’t price out the ones that look like me, the ones that are marginalized, the ones that want to get into wines but are not as fortunate.
So starting with the rosé that’s $15, the chenin blanc which is $20, I’m making sure they’re reasonable. Even though that’s still a lot of money, we want them to feel that we can give you a great wine but keep it at a reasonable price.