Yao to sell wine in China
Months after retiring from basketball, Chinese sporting hero Yao Ming is venturing into business by setting up a wine company to meet a growing thirst in his home country.
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Yao Family Wines will sell vintages using grapes from the famed Napa Valley region of California, reflecting his time playing in the NBA, the China Daily newspaper reported Thursday.
The first batch of "Yao Ming" wine, as it will be branded, is a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon that will sell in China for 600 a bottle.
The company has its own winery but will source grapes from six vineyards in the Napa Valley, according to information that was posted on the Yao Family Wines website but has now been removed.
A representative for Yao declined to comment on the venture.
Yao will sell the first bottle at a charity auction organized by the Special Olympics -- for which he serves as a global ambassador -- on Sunday, the international sporting organization said in a separate statement.
The asking bid for the "extremely rare'' magnum-size bottle will start at $9,400 because only 1,200 bottles were produced, it said.
Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Special Olympics, which organizes athletics for people with intellectual disabilities, in China.
Since formally retiring from the Houston Rockets in July, Yao has gone back to school for a university degree in business management and juggled charity commitments with running a Chinese basketball team.
The 31-year-old is China's first global sports superstar with a personal brand valued at more than $1 billion.