As the NBA season kicks off next week, Brooklyn Nets assistant coach and kosher vintner Amar'e Stoudemire is setting high expectations for the games ahead. The former All-Star with the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks says he now analyzes the game differently and had to learn a lot about how to manage players. It's the same learning experience that took him from enjoying wine on his rooftop in New York to managing his own kosher wine brands from Israel and California. In the latest episode of Straight Talk with Wine Spectator, Stoudemire took a break from training camp and spoke with Wine Spectator news editor Mitch Frank about his wine-related travels, building the Stoudemire Wines legacy and why the NBA is a wine powerhouse.
Stoudemire had always enjoyed tasting wine throughout his early years in the NBA, but it wasn't until he signed with the Knicks in the summer of 2010 that a passion took hold. He spent time traveling tasting wines in Italy, Greece and France, and spent two weeks at Bordeaux's Chanel Château luxury lodging at Château Canon in St.-Emillion, owned by the family behind Chanel and Château Rauzan-Ségla. Back home in New York, Stoudemire would host rooftop parties with his favorite wines. Eventually, a friend inspired him to create his own wine label.
"It was just a thought then it became something more," Stoudemire said. "Then I moved to Israel and met with Tulip Winery and that's when it became something serious."
After Stoudemire moved to Jerusalem in 2015, he explored the wine region of Upper Galilee, where Tulip is based, and made his winemaking debut in 2018 with three Israeli Cabernets and red blends.
"I went through different blends with Tulip and wanted to create a perfect blend that fit my palate," Stoudemire said. "I want to build a brand that's everlasting and could stand the test of time so my children can inherit it." He also felt that the kosher wine space did not have the best selection and he wanted to change that paradigm.
Back in the States, Stoudemire launched his California collection of kosher wines with Herzog Wine Cellars. The lineup includes a Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, a Pinot Noir-based rosé and a Sauvignon Blanc.
When it comes to the NBA, Stoudemire has a strong connection with the league's biggest wine stars, from Carmelo Anthony to Dwyane Wade. He says wine has become a great connector between players.
"It is a bonding thing for us when we get a chance to hang out and communicate with each other and feel the camaraderie at dinners, and that's what propels us to get into the wine space," he said. "It's a great opportunity to break bread with someone."
Watch the full episode with Stoudemire on Wine Spectator's IGTV channel, and tune in to catch Straight Talk with Wine Spectator every week. On Oct. 6, senior editor Tim Fish will chat with Domaine Carneros president Remi Cohen. And on Oct. 13, senior editor MaryAnn Worobiec will talk to La Fête Rosé founder Donae Burston.