Wine Enthusiast: Q+A with NASCAR Star Jeff Gordon _MG_2321-EditCROPcreditB Wine Enthusiast: Q+A with NASCAR Star Jeff Gordon - By Andrea Cooper

Retired NASCAR Driver, 4 Sprint Cup championships, 93 career wins and proprietor of Jeff Gordon Cellars

When did you start getting interested in wine?

I’m from Vallejo, so I always drove through Napa Valley, whether we were going to a racetrack or a lake, to go skiing or boating or just visiting family and friends. As a kid, I can remember seeing these vineyards and wondering what they were all about. That area looked nothing like the area that I grew up in.

The mid-’90s is what really stands out to me. I won a championship, and I went to London and decided to go out to a really nice restaurant and celebrate. I’d never seen a wine list like that before. It was mind-boggling, the variations as well as the quality of the wines. I went with a white Burgundy, a Joseph Drouhin. They decanted it—it was a whole experience, not to mention the wine was just superb. I really started getting more into drinking wine after that.

When you decided to launch your own label, were there certain qualities you wanted in the winemaker or location?

Being a NASCAR driver, we didn’t think people would expect Jeff Gordon to make a Harlan Estate-type wine. It’s a balance of trying to figure out what wine I would be proud of and enjoy, and making it as high-quality as I could, but at the same time creating a price point that was going to be beneficial to us on the business side. I just really enjoyed wines. At the beginning, I was focused on more of a Chardonnay and comparing it to some of my favorite Napa Valley whites like a Far Niente or a Kistler. Now, I exclusively drink red wine, though we still make one white wine.

What’s in your own wine collection?

We built a new home in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a wine room. It’s not a huge collection, I’d say...

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