Often considered to be one of the greatest defensive players in the history of American football, former cornerback and safety Charles Woodson spends more time these days thinking about Cabs and cuv\u00e9es than picking off quarterbacks and thwarting touchdowns. Almost two decades after launching his eponymous, premium Napa Valley brand, Woodson is releasing a more affordable line from California\u2019s Central Coast. Called Charles Woodson\u2019s Intercept, the wine is being produced in partnership with O\u2019Neill Vintners & Distillers. The brand\u2019s aim is to score with an even greater segment of Woodson\u2019s fan base, which extends from the University of Michigan, where he was the only defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy, to his professional days with the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers.\r\n\r\nWhat started your interest in wine?\r\n\r\nGrowing up in the Midwest, I didn\u2019t know anything about wine. I was worlds away from wine country. I didn\u2019t get introduced to wine until I got to the Oakland Raiders in 1998. The Raiders\u2019 training camp was in the Napa Valley. It was pretty eye-opening for me to see this beautiful part of the country that I had never heard of and [to be] around people who drink wine for lunch and for dinner.\r\n\r\nWhat were some of your early experiences?\r\n\r\nI just remember the first time when I tried Merlot. I don\u2019t know who made it, but that was all I would drink was Merlot. Robert Mondavi was the first winery that I had ever gone to. I was very impressed. Then I finally tried Cabernet. I was hooked.\r\n\r\nWhy start Intercept?\r\n\r\nMy Napa wine is considered high-end, retailing for $85 a bottle. I just ran into a lot of fans who don\u2019t mind spending $85 occasionally, but they don\u2019t want to spend $85 every time they\u2019re trying to drink a little bit of wine. So it was important to have something that people felt good about purchasing on a daily basis.\r\n\r\nHow\u2019d you pick the name?\r\n\r\nIntercept is something that\u2019s quickly associated with [me]. If you\u2019re a fan of football, that\u2019s something I was pretty good at throughout my career.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWhy did you decide to put a lion on the label?\r\n\r\nThe lion is my favorite animal. If I am watching one of those nature shows and a lion comes across the screen, I\u2019m stuck to the screen. It\u2019s the king of the jungle. It represents strength, but lions are all about family, all about the pride. I\u2019m all about my family as well. That was a big part for me. The creative team was able to come up with a few different labels, but that was the one that jumped out at me.\r\n\r\nIs wine popular within the NFL and professional sports in general?\r\n\r\nThe more people see myself or Dwyane Wade drinking wine and enjoying the experience, I think more and more people\u2019s minds are open to it. You see more and more tailgates now where they don\u2019t just have beer in their cooler. Depending on the weather, they have wine sitting on the tailgate too.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAnd among the players?\r\n\r\nThere are a lot of guys who were just like me. They didn\u2019t really know anything about wine. I was one of the guys who was a pioneer, if you will\u2026 A lot of guys, after they saw what I was doing, started being interested in going out and purchasing a bottle of wine at dinner. I would say that I brought a few people along.\r\n\r\nCan you tell me a little bit about how you came to love wine?\r\n\r\nIt was different for me. When you\u2019re a college kid and you drink, you didn\u2019t necessarily take your time with whatever you were drinking. You drank to party and have a great time.\r\n\r\nBut with wine, it wasn\u2019t just one of those things you poured in a glass and tried to down it fast. People would take the time, they would swirl and sniff, and it was a whole experience. I thought that was pretty cool. Wine is something you really care for and kind of nurture as you\u2019re having a bottle.