Yao Ming seeks a slam dunk as a winemaker

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Yao Ming seeks a slam dunk as a winemaker

NAPA, California - Yao Ming, the retired NBA big man who became China’s first global sport superstar, has released his first bottles of Yao Ming-branded wine from his Napa Valley wine company, Yao Family Wines.

The first wine to bear the Yao Ming label is a 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The 5,000 cases are available only in mainland China at a cost of $289 a bottle.

The wine will be available in the United States in 2012 at a cost of $170 per bottle, lacking the hefty import fees to China, where wine imports have grown in interest over the past decade.

“I believe that wine can bring people together and make our lives more enjoyable,” Yao said.

“Basketball gave me the opportunity to live in the United States and discover many wonderful things in America. Now I look forward to bringing great wines from California back to the Chinese people.”

Yao, who spent eight seasons with the NBA Houston Rockets before chronic foot injuries forced his retirement earlier this year, is now 31 and lives in Shanghai with a personal brand valued at $1 billion.

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