Food & Wine
Sam Neill's done it, Francis Ford Coppola's family has a long tradition of doing it, heck, even Cliff Richard and Bob Dylan have done it. And now Kiwi football star Ryan Nelsen is joining in with the vine romance of making wine.
The All Whites skipper, who plies his trade in the English Premiership, has his own label wine which he markets to pro footballers and managers in England.
And while he was back in New Zealand last week for the All Whites' 6-1 drubbing of the Solomon Islands, he launched the Ryan Nelsen Wines collection here.
In 2009 he began developing his idea of producing his own label wine, Chairman's Reserve, and moved quickly from supplying his then club Blackburn - even producing a special reserve for his manager Sam Allardyce - to supplying other Premier League clubs and building a successful business.
Nelsen has now partnered with the Fine Wine Delivery Company's Jeff Poole, who has 35 years' experience, to spread the word about the Ryan Nelsen Wines.
“Not all footballers are as they are in the media. There are some entrepreneurial guys out there," said Nelsen, who recently witnessed his former Blackburn teammate Keith Andrews start a menswear company.
“This isn't just putting a name on a bottle. Wine is a passion, but I also wanted to run the business to the best of its potential.”
Poole said that when he was approached he was impressed by what Nelsen had to say.
“He didn't just think there could be a buck in it for me. He had a vision for what he wanted and we even identified the vineyards we wanted our fruit to come off.”
Nelsen, who has a political science degree, said wine was a family passion. His sister was a vintner and her husband a winemaker.
And his other team-mate in the wine business - long-time business manager and friend Hamish Miller - had made sure the wine's label incorporated elements of his family crest as well as a shield to represent defence, leadership and courage - all attributes the staunch defender is known for.
“I love what wine represents. It connects people,” Nelsen said.
“That is what makes wine special, I get caught up in the romanticism of it. It's a magical industry.”
- Sunday Star Times
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