Nick Faldo, 50, is one of the most successful professional golfers in the history of the sport, with 43 victories, six of them majors. He also has multiple Ryder Cup victories, and will be the non-playing captain of the European squad when it defends the trophy against the U.S. team this year (the American captain will be Paul Azinger, whom Faldo fought off in the 1987 British Open Championship to capture his first major win). Since 2006, however, Faldo has spent less of his time on the golf course and more of it in the broadcast booth for CBS and its coverage of the PGA Tour. And he's also begun to devote more of his time to wine. In 2002, when visiting Australia, Faldo began to mix, match and taste wine samples with winemaker Wayne Stehbens from Katnook Estate (part of Wingara Wine Group), and now has his own Nick Faldo Selection Cabernet, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc, all produced in South Australia's Coonawarra region. Though golf remains his primary focus, Faldo sees himself setting aside more time for wine in the future. His competitive nature, however, hasn't waned, as he thinks his wine stands up well to those made by his PGA colleagues.
Wine Spectator: How did you first get interested in wine?
Nick Faldo: I've been a very moderate, very disciplined drinker all my life. I'm no connoisseur or anything, but I enjoy it, and probably drink it more for medicinal purposes because it's got antioxidants and all that sort of thing. So I think it's better to drink red wine rather than beer as I get older.
WS: What sorts of wines have you tried out on the Tour, as you travel around the world?
NF: I've been a golfer for 30 years, and ... we see an airport, a hotel and a golf course. Then an airport and a hotel and then we're gone. [But] when I won the Spanish Open in 1987, I'd gone through a two-year rebuild on my swing. I had a lot of friends down there and we had a dinner that night and one of my friends said, "You have to try this Marqués de Riscal." That kind of stuck. That one had a bit of meaning for me. Fortunately all the expensive wines I've had I haven't bought—my rich friends have.
WS: How did you decide to start making your own wine?
NF: I have a golf-course company and we have projects all over the world, and we thought it would be a nice natural fit. I very much believe in the entertainment of the whole family coming to the golf club. It was something David Frost has done, and obviously Greg Norman. So we were pursuing it, and then a friend down in Australia introduced me to [CEO] David Yunghanns from Wingara, and I went down there and did a couple days of tasting. We got on well, and said, "Right, let's give this a go."
WS: How involved did you get in the winemaking process, or how involved do you ever care to get?
NF: I said I'd just like a wine to open now—nothing to lay down, really. Good nose, fruity, velvety, a bit of fun—nothing stuffy about it, just very drinkable right now. Nothing overpowering. And we had fun mixing different Shirazes. They would ask, "We have this main one and we mix it with a couple others," and I'd say, "Yeah, a bit more peppery or a little less or something," and they would know the quantities to go for.
WS: Which players have a glass of wine in the clubhouse, and what types of wines do they drink?
NF: This is a pro sport now, and we've all got things to do. Players are always practicing or training. The guys enjoy their wine in the evening socially, but professional sportsmen don't sit around after the game having a chit-chat and a casual drink after the round. At dinner in the evenings, a lot of players in Europe are into it. But you still have to be pretty disciplined on tour, so a glass or two at the most. The next day you're up at 5 a.m. to continue off at 8 a.m.
WS: Have you tried Ernie Els' or Mike Weir's or Greg Norman's wines? How do you think yours stack up?
NF: We actually did a taste test in New York, and we were going to air it on ABC and it never made it for some reason. I have to say, I'm biased, but I fought them all off. I will definitely say my stuff is better than Greg's. David Frost is probably the truest out of the golfers, since he and his brother own their vineyard in South Africa. One of them was very good, and we actually thought one of Mike Weir's was good. Ernie's was really good, but it's very expensive, so he loses a few points for that. And to the annoyance of my fellow announcers, Ian Baker-Finch is from Australia, and he does know his stuff, [he was] giving mine a good nod. I think it shocked everyone.
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