On a piece of land that looks like little, patience matters. The man in charge is a pro at surveying the field — though the desired results are far more varied than the former NFL star could have imagined.
Here in New England, we know Drew Bledsoe as a former Patriots quarterback, but he’s at the top of his game as a winemaker — the quarterback of a growing team of vineyards and wineries.
“It’s a bigger deal than we thought when we started,” Bledsoe said.
He says his taste — and passion — for wine dates dates back to his days at Foxboro.
“When I was playing in New England, we got into wine and I learned that my hometown produces some of the best wines in the world,” Bledsoe said.
This is how Bledsoe returned to his roots as a winemaker.
Bledsoe, Walla is a native of Walla, Washington, and his town, about a four-and-a-half hour drive southeast of Seattle, is fast becoming a mecca for winemakers and wine lovers.
“It’s been nice to see the city growing and developing,” he said. “When I graduated high school in 1990, there were five winners, and now I think it’s 140-150.”
Among these wineries, it is the growing team at Bledsoe that is quickly becoming a fan favourite. Bledsoe has hooked up with Josh McDaniels — yes, McDaniels has heard jokes, and no, he’s not related to the former Patriots offensive coordinator and current Las Vegas Raiders head coach.
“I was worried about what I was going to do in the wine industry because there are a lot of mediocre celebrity wine projects out there, and he came out wanting to make great wineries from wineries and build a real business,” McDaniels said. CEO and Director of Winemaking for Doubleback. “I think it tore him up.”
It’s a game plan that appears to be working, with a lineup that includes Doubleback, Bledsoe-McDaniels and Bledsoe Family Winery in the mix.
Additionally, Bledsoe and McDaniels recently purchased a winery in Oregon, with plans to expand the area even further.
“We always joke, the quarterback has a big ego, but he’s a very down to earth guy, he understands what he doesn’t understand,” McDaniel said.
Bledsoe, who played in the NFL for 14 years, was entering his 15th year of winemaking. He credits his mindset from his playing days for helping him win over skeptics in an industry full of well-known, but often not-so-great, wines.
“Our intention was never to make it a hobby, we really wanted to try to be great at it, but the way it’s turned out is a bit unexpected,” Bledsoe said.