Sbragia teams up with football legend

Sbragia teams up with football legend News Wine News
  • Thursday 28 August 2003

Legendary quarterback Joe Montana has teamed up with veteran winemaker Ed Sbragia to produce a 'gutsy' Cabernet that will sell mainly at charity auctions.

Montana – one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, who led American football team the San Francisco 49ers to four major victories in the 1980s – retired to wine country in Sonoma's Knights Valley.

He met Sbragia, winemaking chief at Napa's Beringer, some years ago and the two found their tastes in wine coincided.

'Joe and I like really big, gutsy wines,' Sbragia told, adding that Montana – who has a small vineyard in Knights Valley - first approached him three years ago wanting to get involved in a 'small, good production,' to be offered to a hand-picked list of restaurants, and to charity auctions.

Using Beringer grapes mainly from Howell Mountain, Sbragia has created 'Montagia', a Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc blend from the 1999 and 2000 vintages, with the help of Montana and his wife Jennifer.

'Jennifer took part in the blending process. She likes a softer wine and so she pushed for the Cabernet Franc,' Sbragia said. Montana himself and Sbragia get together two or three times a year to taste and blend.

'He knows what he likes. It's a gut feeling – he goes for a good structure, and he's learning all the time,' said Sbragia, adding, 'I wouldn't have done this if I didn't like what he likes about wine.'

Some 120 cases of Montagia 1999 have been produced, of which a small amount will be sold from the Beringer winery in Napa for around US$75. The 2000 vintage will be relased in 2004.

  • The 2003 harvest for Beringer will be 'normal to slightly small', Sbragia has told, the result of a summer that was generally warm but with some cold periods. Harvesting has started on the Pinot Noir, and the Cabernets 'look great – again, with the yield normal to slightly below normal.'

    'We are the opposite to Bordeaux this year – a little bit later than usual,' Sbragia said. He added that he had hopes for the vintage. 'It's not a giant crop, and it looks good.'

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