NFL Stars Talk Wine

We talk to former NFL gunners Dan Marino and Damon Huard on their new winery, the joys of Cabernet and the future of Washington State wine.


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Photo by Caylee Betts

How did you fall in love with wine?
Marino: I grew up in Pittsburgh and in my neighborhood everyone made their own wine—my cousins and others. They would all have barrels in the basement. When I got to Florida, I just became an enthusiast and started buying wines here and there. Damon was born in Washington State, but when he came to the Miami Dolphins in ’97, all he drank was beer...

Huard: Yeah, I was the Rainier Light college kid out of the University of Washington.

Marino: So one day I said, “Damon, I have some great Washington wines in my cellar. When you come over, I’m going to turn you on to them. They’re grown right in your backyard!” So I introduced him to Andrew Will, Col Solare, Leonetti and the like.

Huard: Dan introduced them to me, and the bug just bit me.

You just opened Passing Time Winery. See any parallels between the wine world and the gridiron? 
Marino: Yeah. Intense passion. To be good at something, you have to have a certain amount of passion for it and really love it. For me, football was all I wanted to do from the time I was a kid until I got into the NFL. I wanted to be a professional football player. You see the same determination and love in the wine world. Now, I share that same passion for making wine.

Your first release, a Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet, is due out next year; what are your goals for it?
Huard:  Our wine isn’t a small wine, but it’s not like a big California cult Cab, with 16 percent alcohol. There is something really unique here in Washington and we want to highlight those unique subtleties, the spice and the leaf.

What are you drinking these days?
Marino: When I get home most days, I usually drink what my wife has already opened. She likes to drink a lot of Pinot, mostly California and some Oregon.

Huard:  If you were to walk in my cellar, it is literally 80 percent Washington wines. I do enjoy Bordeaux and red Burgundies from time to time, but you’re not going to find a lot of those in my cellar. I’m very true to Washington. 

The Passing Time wine is being made by Chris Peterson at the Avennia facility in Woodinville, Washington. The inaugural wine will be released in the spring of 2015.

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