NBA star Chris Paul is taking his first shot at the wine business. The Phoenix Suns point guard and 11-time All-Star has joined La Fête Wine Company founder Donae Burston and his expanding wine brand as an equity partner. Paul's stake in the company was not disclosed.
Paul discovered La Fête during his time in the NBA bubble in 2020, and shared bottles of La Fête rosé with fellow wine-loving players Carmelo Anthony, Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, JJ Redick and others. He says the rosé was a "go-to" during off-court meetups in isolation. It was around this time that Robbie Robinson, co-founder and CEO of Pendulum Holdings, LLC, an investing and advisory platform, connected Paul with Burston.
"From the very beginning, Pendulum thought we should get to know each other," Burston told Wine Spectator. "Between Chris' passion for historically Black colleges and universities and diversifying different industries, which is what I'm all about, it was important to have that connection, and that connection then took us to where we are today."
Paul preferred vodka earlier in his NBA career, but after being introduced to Riesling, he went on to acquire a taste for red Burgundy and super Tuscans. He also noticed that the industry had a long way to go for people of color.
"It's crazy that as you grow and travel and start getting into wine, you get into all these different grapes, cultures and history," Paul told Wine Spectator. "But when you travel to all these wineries in Italy, France and Napa, very rarely do you see someone of color."
But Paul was inspired by Burston, who has been showing that Black voices not only belong in the industry but can thrive in it. "It felt like a perfect fit to join La Fête," Paul said.
Burston has grown his brand exponentially since its modest start in 2019. Part of that expansion into 40 markets has been fueled by a deal with North American drinks giant Constellation Brands, which purchased a minority stake in the company in 2021. That same year, Burston released La Fête du Blanc, a white wine from southern France, and he has plans to release a third wine later this year. Burston has confidence in Paul's palate and his ability to make big decisions for the company moving forward.
"Chris is a very savvy businessman, so for us it is really about helping us drive and activate and ideate around culture and sports, which are two things he has his finger on the pulse of," Burston said. "Introducing us to other players and associates is what this deal is all about for us. Plus, his palate is undeniable, so he would be on the tasting committee."
Paul, who gifted all his teammates a bottle of La Fête for Christmas, is excited about using the wine brand to promote inclusion for Black wine lovers and winemakers. For Burston, it's another step toward his Day 1 goal: Make rosé for all.
"For many years, rosé was targeted toward women, but right now you're seeing two Black men talking about rosé wine and that's part of the revolution as well," Burston said. "Not just bringing it to people of color, but to different genders, races and ages, specifically into what we produce. We're very happy with the partnership and we know we will be the No. 1 rosé brand here soon."
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