The celebrity-backed world of alcoholic beverages is about to get a bit more crowded.
Former NBA star Yao Ming, who before his retirement this summer was the league's tallest player, has announced a new wine venture targeted specifically at the Chinese market. Called "Yao Family Wines," the new label will be made from cabernet sauvignon grapes harvested in California's Napa Valley. A 5,000-case first run will be named "Yao Ming" and retail for an astounding $289 bottle.
Ming's decision to jump into the wine business comes as China is experiencing unprecedented demand for the beverage. According to one source, consumption of wine in the country is expected to increase 90 percent by 2014. Since a majority of imports come from France, Mr. Yao believes his California brand will have a better chance of standing out from the crowd.
"While French wines have made quite an impression already, people are starting to discover California wines," Yao told Wine Spectator
. "California has a good reputation in China for its lifestyle, as a great place to vacation and for fun. I not only want to share [the wines] with Chinese people, but also share the culture and beauty of Napa Valley."
While Yao Family Wines currently does not own a vineyard, the 31-year-old is hopeful to start acquiring land within the next several years.
Changing gears completely, the Hanson brothers have announced the release of a new beer named after their mega-'90s hit song "MMMBop." Yes that's right, starting in 2012, you can purchase a case of "MMMHop" India Pale Ale — as well as a Hanson-themed board game
and a record player.
"We of course make records, they are fundamental to what we do," Zac Hanson recently told reporters in England, via Rolling Stone
. "But we wanted to create a brand so that our fans have a greater experience."