Sasha Vujacic is a man of many talents. The Slovenian shooting guard has sustained an 11-year NBA career, winning two titles with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010 and making a comeback with the Knicks after two years in Euroleague. He’s an established 3-point marksman as career 36.8 percent 3-point shooter who peaked at 43.7 percent with the 2007-08 Lakers. He has proven incredibly meme-able, even in the days before memes were established lexicon. He dated Maria Sharapova for awhile. And now, he has opened his next adventure — creating his own wine label.
The label is Aleksander, is based on the native spelling of his first name, and is a joint venture between Sasha and his parents, Goran and Ksenija. The family developed their passion for wine in Slovenia, and then in Italy, where Sasha first played professionally at age 15. Eager to follow their dream of owning a family winery, Goran and Ksenija established S&G Estate in 2009, while Sasha was with the Lakers. They first harvested grapes in 2010, and after spending a few years in barrels, the first wine was released this week.
Vujacic is not the first NBA player to own their own label. Yao Ming has his own label that’s been operating since 2011, and Dwyane Wade launched a label in 2015. Both operate their labels out of the famous Napa Valley. Vujacic’s label is unique, in that he’s the first NBA player to have a family-owned winery, and his winery operates out of the more recently blooming Central Valley, in Paso Robles, California, north of Los Angeles.
The first three vintages of Aleksandar are Bordeaux blends, meaning they are a blend compromised of the five main types of red wines made in France — Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. A source in the wine making industry states that the Vujacics use of Serbian oak in the aging process of the wine is unique among American wines. The 2011 vintage received a 95/100 points in a review in 2016, a very solid score, especially for a first release. The standard blend goes for $75, and the reserve blend goes for $95, both of which are available on the website. Or you can sample the Vujacic’s olive oil, as a 650-tree olive orchard is part of the property.
The NBA continues to establish its footing in the wine business with this release. We now have three players prominently involved in the business, and we know that several others, including LeBron James and Draymond Green, are huge wine-os. The positive reviews from Vujacic’s wine are a good sign, and hopefully with success of his family-owned label, more NBA players will choose to pursue this venture in the future. The Step Back plans to procure a bottle of Aleksander in the coming weeks, and if able, we will provide a detailed review.