Drew Bledsoe Talks Doubleback Wine with Joseph & Curtis
Most people know Drew Bledsoe as a football quarterback in the National Football League, best known as the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots from 1993-2001. After his retirement in 2007, Drew created the Doubleback Winery along with his close friend Chris Figgins. The company’s grapes are harvested from McQueen Vineyards and Flying B Vineyards, located in and around the Walla Walla, Washington wine region. Doubleback wine has enjoyed recent success, placing 53rd overall in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines. Bledsoe also has a vested interest in Bledsoe Capital Group, which is committed to facilitating the capitalization, development, and marketing of its diverse holdings and investments. In his spare time, he also works with many philanthropic organizations.
Drew Bledsoe has led an amazing life, so we were excited to have a chance to speak with him about his life and his passion for wine. Let’s chat with Drew!
Who were some of your biggest influences in your life?
OBVIOUSLY my folks…they are my foundation. Specifically to wine Chris Figgins..he has been an amazing mentor/partner who I continue to learn from each day.
Mike Price from my college days….as to the NFL Sean Payton.
It was kind of an evolution…my wife and I started to drink wine w dinner and found it so much more interesting then any other beverage we use to have. We then took a trip to Napa and started to learn about the whole process. First your a farmer,then a winemaker, then marketing and distribution. I found the entire process fascinating…just starting out with a piece of bare ground and ending up with a work of art in a bottle which you can share w friends and family. So I not only thought it could be a great business but also a wonderful lifestyle as well.
I have to say Walla Walla is one of my favorite regions…tremendous values…what are some of your favorites outside of Walla?
Huge fan of Oregon pinot especially 2008. I also love Italian wine…they really reward age and of course with a little effort in the kitchen pairings can be magical.
We originally bought land in Columbia Valley had no idea at that point Chris Figgins our old neighbor would even consider working outside of Lionetti. He agreed to sit down and meet I thought we were meeting so that I could pick his brain…little did I know he was actually interviewing me to see if I was truly serious…thankfully I convinced him! I then hired Chris as my winemaker and consultant thereafter and with Chris direction we decided from a branding standpoint and quality standpoint that Walla Walla (where I grew up) would be where we would begin. We sold the Columbia Valley and now have 2 estates vineyards which is where we produced the 07 and 08 w all purchased fruit (Figgins family,7 Hills,PepperBridge, and LeFore). 2010 is when we will begin to integrate our own fruit.
How much time do you spend in the vineyards?
4-6 days per month…and well over 10 marketing trips throughout the year. (Mass, Texas, Arizona, Cali etc) Our goal for distribution will be 2-3,000 cases.
Doubleback Cabernet (and this year will release 100 cases of Shiraz strictly for mailing list and J&C fans around $45 per bottle)
Being a father of 3 (Drew has 4) I really respect the way you have always lead by example and been a great father….in order please describe what you think is the hardest:
- Being a father (Most Important no question)
- Making wine/running a vineyard (raising kids and vines alot of similarities…when raising vines and you give them everything they want you end up with big overripe sloppy berries and no complexity…but when you hold back with just the right amounts…and sometime stress them and make them work for it…much like children make them work and develop character and qualities you will be proud of.)
- Mo Lewis hit (Quick and very painful…but basically over and done with after 6 weeks of laying around the hospital)
- Training camp (tough to leave Montana and the family but was fun and the fact I was a QB I didn’t have to bust heads all day!)
Are the kids following you in either sports or wine making?
My kids have helped plant vines and have also helped during harvest. As to sports they are truly into everything…much like the way I was growing up.
Favorite college story? ( that you can tell 🙂 )
My favorite game (rival was U 0F WASHINGTON) early 90’s era they were in the national hunt…92 over in Pullman and it snowed 8″ and we beat them down pretty good. Off the field I loved the small school feel and often wonder what it would of been like to spend another year there.
Did you get to spend alot of time with your grandfather?
(Great Grandfather, Albert McQueen Bledsoe, was a ship’s captain during World War II and a Rear Admiral) We are HUGE supporters of our men and women who have served this great nation and granted us the ability to live with freedom.
Please tell us about him…
My great grandpa was a rear admiral in WWII…my Grandpa Stew was at UCLA when we were bombed…the next morning he and his best friend signed up….went to flight school and eventually landed in Top Gun school (where they eventually became instructors) He did see service where his best friend died while ejecting from his burning plane…but signaled to Grandpa Stew thumbs up to the Flag (signaling it was worth dying for) on his flight jacket as he was going down.
My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Amos Lee, Brett Dennen
Whats your favorite wine/food pairing?
I am pretty easy… Lamb chops & a big cab or a bolognese and a Brunello.
Where can our readers purchase Doubleback wine?
The Doubleback website or through J&C.
How important is it to properly cellar wine? And why do you feel EVERYONE should have a J&C wine cellar?
Wines really reward some time laying down to fully integrate…I obviously know my wine the best…and it’s amazing to see how our wine has evolved over the years…all those components seem to integrate and become one and that’s when the wine becomes truly special. Most of the old world wines almost demand it…like a decade before they are even approachable.
Drew will be offering signed mags of the 2010 Doubleback on a first come first serve basis…please contact us for more information.