Winemaker Anthony Walkenhorst, after a 19-plus-hour flight, arrived in New York from his home in Marlborough, New Zealand, at 7 a.m. Monday, determined to be at Arthur Ashe Stadium for an 11 a.m. tennis match. That might sound like an unlucky draw, but stars like women's No. 1 Naomi Osaka and men's No. 6 Alexander Zverev were on the schedule at the U.S. Open—as well as more than 17,000 glasses of the Kim Crawford wine Walkenhorst made, to be served at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens over the course of the tournament. (Post-tournament update: Kim Crawford actually ended up serving more than 100,000 glasses, more than five times their estimate.)
Before he worked his first harvest at 16, Walkenhorst had dreamed of becoming a tennis coach, he told Unfiltered, and he still plays a few times a week. When he heard news of the partnership, "I emailed the U.S. team and let them know, if they ever needed a winemaker on hand, I'd be happy to do it," he laughed.
The Kim Crawford tennis pairing is the third major wine-sports partnership announced by parent company Constellation this year, all of them new: There's also California Pinot and Chardonnay brand Meiomi and the PGA Tour, and the just-announced Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi team-up with NFL franchises. In each case, the company's marketing team researched which brands "over-indexed" with certain sports, and the tennis demo favored courtside and après-match quenches like KC's Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, plus a frosé with a little vodka and lemon spin on it.
In addition to the U.S. Open, Kim Crawford had booths and lounges at the Miami Open and Indian Wells Masters this year, plus an ad campaign during matches on ESPN. The Constellation team told Unfiltered that next year could bring a partnership with another tourney sponsor or even a player, but who remains a, well, open question. Both Osaka and Zverev, as it happened, were upset the day the Kiwi wine ace was in the crowd.
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