It’s ‘Official’: Kendall-Jackson and La Crema Join the NBA’s Wine Family


For years, the NBA has been nicknamed the “Wine League,” but now it’s officially tipping off. The National Basketball Association is embarking on a partnership with California’s Jackson Family Wines establishing Kendall-Jackson as the official wine of the NBA, and K-J’s sister wine La Crema as the official wine of the Women’s National Basketball Association. These affiliations will also extend to Teams USA for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

“We’re thrilled to announce our partnership with Kendall-Jackson,” said Julie Morris, head of commercial development and media for the NBA. “It was a long time coming.”

“This is exactly what the wine industry needs,” JFW co-proprietor Chris Jackson told Wine Spectator. “We need to appeal to younger people. We’re growing, we’re expanding, and the NBA is the hottest sports franchise … [and] when they celebrate, they do it with wine.”

The list of wine-loving basketball stars grows seemingly by the day, and many current and former NBA pros have created their own wine labels and even acquired their own vineyards (more on that below); an official league wine was an obvious slam dunk.

The WNBA has a similarly growing wine culture. WNBA champion and two-time league MVP Elena Delle Donne launched her own wine label, Deldon Wines, in 2023.

“We want to make sure we are advancing and pushing boundaries [for women],” Jackson Family co-proprietor Hailey Jackson Hartford told Wine Spectator, citing her family’s strong women leaders as a natural fit with the WNBA. And La Crema is on a winning streak of its own, having just been named Wine Spectator‘s Value Wine of the Year for 2023.

Basketball also runs in the Jackson family blood. Kendall-Jackson founder Jess Jackson loved the game, and was friends with Golden State Warriors legend Nate Thurmond.

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Jackson Family Wines and the NBA first stepped on the court together in 2020. In response to COVID, the NBA created the Bubble, an isolation zone in Florida where players finished the 2019-’20 season. With more than 300 players from 22 teams all living in isolation, stories emerged of wine-loving players and coaches having their favorite bottles shipped to them inside the Bubble.

Jackson Family executive VP and chief sales officer Bill O’Connor was paying attention. “We were trying to uplift America and do nice things,” he recalls. One of those nice things was putting up $2 million for the Grocery Worker’s Relief Fund with United Way; another was sending wine to the Bubble, along with a note thanking the players for continuing their season.

“[JFW] recognized the affinity our players had for wine, and they were kind enough to send wines, conducted [virtual] wine tastings and education,” said Morris. These virtual tastings and educational sessions were led by Master Sommeliers, winemakers and wine educators, and included Jackson Family portfolio wines from around the world.

The conversations between Jackson Family and the NBA continued. Both sides found the alignment of their values and ethics to be uncanny. “Think about the WNBA, and all they’ve done for the LGBTQ+ community,” offered Chris Jackson, citing La Crema’s status as the official wine of PRIDE celebrations nationwide and its support for Equality California to champion LGBTQ+ rights.

What will the partnership look like for basketball fans? Pop-up tastings, commemorative wines, a dinner series, text-to-win sweepstakes, as well as more activities are planned around events like the drafts, and NBA Con, to be held this summer alongside NBA 2K Summer League. The next All-Star Games will be held in San Francisco, so it’s likely the festivities may extend to wine…

Source : https://www.winespectator.com/articles/the-new-official-wine-of-the-nba-is-a-california-winery-you-already-know-well