James Harden Talks Launching Wine Brand: ‘I Have More to Give Than Just Being a Basketball Player’
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James Harden has long been a fan favorite on the basketball courts, and now, the NBA star is bringing fans along for the ride as he makes his move off the courts, with his new namesake wine brand.
Dubbed J-HARDEN, the wine brand launched last fall with a “mission to make quality wine more accessible to all consumers.” Debuting with a California Cabernet Sauvignon and California Red Blend, the brand adds a Prosecco to its offerings this month, with an Extra Dry Prosecco DOC in collaboration with Accolade Wines and globally recognized wine brand J-Shed.
For Harden, the chance to dip his sneakers into an entirely new industry was something that appealed to both his creative and entrepreneurial sides.
“This is an exciting time for wine and I love being a part of it,” he says, adding that the new Prosecco works for everything from “curated dinners” to “brunch vibes.” The accompanying bottle for the Prosecco is bold and colorful, curated to complement Harden’s statement-making fashion style.
Harden says he’s actively involved from “grape to glass,” working with his wine team in between games and during the off-season.
The basketball star spoke to Rolling Stone after a recent practice to share more about the inspiration behind J-HARDEN wines, the reason he chose to make wine over tequila, and why he’s building this brand for the culture.
Was wine something you’ve always been interested in?
I didn’t really drink wine in my family growing up, and it wasn’t until I got a little older that I got into it. I’d be at dinner with friends and we’d sip on a couple bottles of wine and kind of relax, and it’s something that we could celebrate with, without getting too crazy for the night.
A lot of athletes and celebrities have gone into the spirits business, but you purposely chose to launch a wine brand. Why is that?
I feel like tequila, for example, is obviously a great business, but I’m more of a wine guy. With tequila, it’s hard for me to recover nowadays. I mean, l’m not 21 years old anymore, so after games, I like to wind down and relax with a glass of wine rather than doing tequila.
A lot of athletes also invest or kind of get behind something just because of the money or because it looks or sounds cool, but for me is it’s all in.
You’ve talked about wanting to make J-HARDEN an “accessible” wine brand. What do you mean by that?
For starters, African-Americans don’t often feel like they can get into wine. Or they feel like you gotta be in a selective group [to access wine]. Obviously, other people feel like you have to have money to enjoy wine, and that’s not the case. Price point is very, very important because we want to make sure that everybody is able to purchase our wine and get a taste of the brand.
For me, I also want to promote J-HARDEN as a brand where you can go buy a bottle of wine and sit at home with your wife or your significant other and get that same type of feeling as other drinks. I’m trying to open doors to make people who don’t feel comfortable drinking wine feel like they can order wine when they’re going to dinner. So it’s just about opening the doors for everybody. I feel like that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.
How has playing basketball helped or informed what you do with J-HARDEN Wines?
Basketball, I’ve been playing for an extremely long time. But now I’m in the transition period of finding something else that I’m passionate about, that I want to work hard for, and I want to put the work in and see the results like I do with basketball. So this is my baby, this is my project. And I’ve fallen in love with it. Just like basketball, I want to find ways to make the wine reach that next level, to where we’ve never seen a wine more accessible and more exciting that people are talking about.
What are your goals for the brand over the next few years?
I feel like I’m a very big part of the culture, and I feel like I have more to give than just being a basketball player, whether it’s through music, whether it’s fashion, whatever. I feel like I have more to give than just basketball, so whether it’s a wine or anything that I do, I’m gonna put my all into it, and great things, great results are gonna happen.
You aren’t hanging up your basketball jersey anytime soon are you?
Basketball was my all and it’s still my all, because you know, if it wasn’t for basketball, I wouldn’t be where I am today. But I have a few things that I’m starting to fall in love with that I’m excited about and I feel like it’s gonna make the same impact.
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