by Wine Spectator on July 28, 2016

Napa’s Newest All-Star Cabernet

There’s a new All-Star in Napa Valley. Former Toronto Blue JaysL.A. Angels and New York Yankeesoutfielder Vernon Wells has teamed with Seattle Mariners catcher Chris Iannetta to create Jack winery. Their debut 2013 Napa Cabernet is sourced from Diamond Mountain and Howell Mountain fruit and priced at $100; there’s also a $50 Sauvignon Blanc. Iannetta, whose grandparents made wine in their Rhode Island home, says the project is an exploration of his family’s Italian winemaking roots. Winemaker Grant Long Jr.of Aonair winery is making the wines.

“In 2012, when I was with the Angels, I became friends with Vernon,” Iannetta, who has a series-opener against the Cubs tonight at Wrigley Field, told Unfiltered via e-mail. “Unfortunately, we both got injured … [but] during that time we kicked around some post-baseball business ideas. As fate would have it, we were talking about wine and thought creating our own would be an amazing way to team up through our shared passion.” For both Iannetta and Wells, the wine project is a family affair—the Jack winery name is taken from the first initials of their respective children, JayceAshlynChristian and Kylie. Iannetta tells us he’d like to add a Pinot Noir to their brand down the road, but that his favorite wines run from Diamond Creek Napa Cabernet to Banfi Brunello to Vieux-Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape, while Wells’ picks include Failla, HdV and Chappellet. And that level of wine interest is what winemaker Long cites when asked about signing on for a “celebrity wine” project: “I tell people the reason I agreed to work with Chris and Vernon—besides their good looks!—is that both are committed to the project and their passion for wine. They want to make this more than a hobby … it’s a labor of love.”

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