INGLEWOOD, Calif. (2UG) – NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens launched his second wine under his Eighty-One Wines label and hosted a meet and greet showcasing the Reserve Cabaret Sauvignon 2018 at 1010 Wines and Events on June 29.
Like most Americans, the 2019 pandemic changed his mindset and brought him to the wine industry post-football.
“During the pandemic everyone was pivoting and my marketing rep knew the Lasorda family who were looking to collaborate with athletes and my name was on the list,” said Owens, who had no experience with wine at the time.
Eighty-One is a partnership with Lasorda Family Wines, the family business started by MLB Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda. Lasorda Family Wines runs its winemaking operations in the renowned Paso Robles region.
“I’ve tried wine since being drafted in 1996 to the San Francisco 49ers and being from Alabama, we aren’t known for drinking wine, and within the Black community we aren’t known for drinking wine, and so that was part of the reason to be more vested and more knowledgeable about wine,” said Owens.
Eighty-One is the second offering under Owens label. Both are reds with the first being the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 which is a blend of Cabernet and Syrah. The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is 100% Cabernet.
“As an athlete, you attend a lot of events and are offered wine, either white or red, and because I had no clue the veterans said to be safe, go with the red,” said Owens. “I initially didn’t like it because it was bitter and dry and I didn’t like the aftertaste.”
Lasorda Family Wines then embarked on creating a wine more to the liking of Owens pallet, whose preference was something sweet like a Moscato or Riesling.
“Becoming knowledgeable about the wine space, and to be taken seriously, you start with the Cabernets,” said Owens.
The tasting notes are what brings the wine to life explained Owens.
Eighty-One’s latest cab offering features essences of black currant and cherry, nutmeg, and cedar with the first sip. Rhubarb, raw almond, and cherry pepper show up on the tongue, followed by cardamom and a dark chocolate finish from aging in French and American oak.
“The characteristics of a red wine are big, bold, and dry,” said Owens. “Then I started to see familiarities of who I am, in the wine, and I embody the big and bold but are definitely not dry.”
Owens was not only hands-on with the contents of the bottle but also its packaging.
The brand, Eighty-One, is named for the number Owens wore during his NFL career.
The 2018 is the Hall of Fame edition which represents the year he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.
The label features Owens logo, is textured like a football, and has gold starbursts that are popcorn kernels.
“If you followed my career I had this thing ‘get your popcorn ready’,” said Owens. “I’m very dialed into the product and not just throwing my name on something but being involved throughout the entire process.”
Lasorda Family Wines is run by David Lasorda, who provided insight on why they partnered with athletes to bring wines to market.
“We launched Lasorda Family Wines in 2015 and realized with a name like Tommy Lasorda and how the fanbase loved and supported him, they loved the wine and we realized there’s an opportunity to partner with other athletes across other sports that the fans would get behind too,” said Lasorda.
“We wanted a partner with an established career, and from one Hall of Famer to another, we want that caliber of athlete as a partner,” said Lasorda.
Owens event at 1010 Wines featured a giveaway of bottles of his 2018 cab along with products from his new candle line, Loft81, which features the fragrance “Tough Love” dedicated to the memory of Terrell’s late grandmother, Alice.
“The candles pair well with my wine,” said Owens with a bright smile.
Owens also thought it was important to bring his wine to the popular Inglewood wine bar that only carries wines made by Black vintners.
“I love what LeAnn and Leslie [owners of 1010 Wines] are doing and they have been very supportive in carrying my wine and making events like tonight’s possible,” said Owens.
To purchase the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon visit the company’s website 81vino.com.