CJ McCollum has been a self-confessed wine enthusiast for years.
On his days away from the court, you’ll often catch McCollum sipping an Oregon pinot noir and taking advantage of the proximity to the Willamette Valley by visiting nearby vineyards.
McCollum also spends a lot of time on his Vivino app, scanning labels to learn more about the vino he’s consuming. Recently, he teamed up with Adelsheim Vineyards to create his own label, McCollum Heritage 91, forging a bond with his backyard wine region.
It’s safe to say the Portland Trail Blazers sharpshooter has integrated himself into the wine culture that spans across the NBA.
With McCollum and the Trail Blazers located inside the NBA bubble during the league’s return to play, the Disney playing grounds have become the unofficial wine club of the NBA.
Luckily, CJ doesn’t have to travel outside the NBA bubble to score great wine... because he’s brought it all himself.
According to Baxter Holmes of ESPN, McCollum has turned his hotel room into a wine cooler of sorts to preserve his beloved Pinots and honestly, every hotel room should have a wine cellar.
He keeps the temperature around 60 degrees when he's inside it and in the mid-to-high 50s when he's not, all in an effort to protect the 84 bottles that he keeps in boxes, out of the light. For the most part, McCollum shipped in pinot noir from Oregon, where he is a member at several local wineries, along with the first bottling of his own recently released wine, McCollum Heritage 91, also an Oregon pinot noir.
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast as special guest Bill Walton joins hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon]:
McCollum has so much wine inside the Disney Yacht Club that he had to order more when his backcourt mate, Damian Lillard, celebrated his 30th birthday inside the NBA bubble.
Per ESPN, he also ordered six more cases to give away to other players.
"If you're in my hotel and you happen to be by the pool, you'll be able to partake in whatever I'm drinking that day," McCollum says, "so if it's during the daytime it'll probably be some bubbly. If it's at nighttime, it's probably pinot."
Luckily, CJ isn’t the only NBA star who loves to drink vino. His teammate, Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony, also brought an array of “old world,” bottles from Europe inside the NBA bubble. The two will often open bottles together, discuss the wine’s characteristics, and guess the soil types and vintages.
He's got a really, really good knowledge of wine, especially old world, and he loves that stuff and has heavily exposed me to it to where I've been able to learn more about Burgundy and been able to learn more about some of those other regions that I haven't quite frankly been to. So, kind of going through those things to where you truly understand and share and appreciate the wine with someone, it leads to a lot of great conversations and a lot of eventful evenings." – McCollum on Carmelo Anthony
Passing wine around the table has become a daily routine for NBA players. Other players like LeBron James, Jimmy Butler and P.J. Tucker have publicly revealed their passion for vino. Some say it helps them to unwind after a long day on the court.
"You see some teams sitting at separate tables, [and] they're drinking wine or they're discussing things over wine," McCollum says. "I think it's become more common practice, especially associated with dinner -- a way to catch up, a way to reflect and relax after a long day of working out and obviously being restricted to the bubble."