Andre De Grasse Expands his Brand With a Limited Edition Pillitteri Wine
You’ve probably heard the array of sports metaphors often used in business – the ball is in their court, getting down to the wire, Hail Mary – to name a few. Like athletes, few business leaders make it far by being benchwarmers. Athletes recognize that elite performance has an expiration date; you can’t compete forever. Like great businesses when there is a market disruption, great athletes know that there will come a time to pivot into the next chapter of their career. One of those great athletes, Andre De Grasse, is pivoting with Pillitteri Estate Winery.
Some become actors, politicians, sports coaches, or commentators – and some start their own businesses. Andre De Grasse doesn’t wait by the sidelines. Instead, he’s making strides to cement his legacy in more ways than just sprinting for Team Canada. De Grasse is adding the multi-billion-dollar wine industry to his already impressive portfolio of accomplishments, positioning himself in the luxury market and expanding his audience to wine collectors.
Enter Andre De Grasse 19.62, a limited-edition bottle of a 2020 Corvina-Cabernet Franc blend. Promptly titled after De Grasse’s record-setting, gold medal-winning sprint at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics 200 metre, the wine is fermented in partnership with Niagara-based Pillitteri Estates Winery. This pairing shows the thought De Grasse is putting into entering the wine business – not any bush-league winery will do “[With partnerships,] I try to be a role model on and off the track,” De Grasse told GLORY in early 2022. With only 500 cases produced, the bottle is catalogued as a “reserve classic” – a title only given to wines produced in the best vintage years – meaning it has gone through a rigorous tasting panel.
The wine is full of flavourful, multi-dimensional depth. Barrel-aged in new French oak with complex cherry and stone fruit character, it has a robust body and an intense, lengthy finish making for a delicious aftertaste. Andre De Grasse 19.62 is made in the traditional appassimento style, where grapes are rack-dried in a single layer for 30 days in fruttaio rooms, which use forced air circulation to allow the fruit to dry slowly, keeping the wine’s organics balanced and giving it a complex textured palate profile. This wine is perfect for collectors looking to add a fascinating collaboration between two humble brands with a commitment to social responsibility to their collection.
De Grasse wasn’t planning on being a sprinter, entering the sport late. In only 10.9 seconds – the time it took him to run his first 100 metres at the 2012 York Regional High School Championship – De Grasse went from an aspiring basketball player to a future Olympic sprinter. His humble beginnings are a reminder for De Grasse of the importance of supporting communities.
That’s why De Grasse is putting social responsibility at the forefront of his brand. In 2018, he founded the Andre De Grasse Family Foundation – a charity committed to inspiring and empowering youth through access to sports, education, and healthcare. Proceeds from each bottle of wine sold will go to the Andre De Grass Family Foundation. Pillitteri Estate Winery boasts its own history of supporting athletes. The Team Canada Wine Collection, which sends $1 to the Canadian Olympic Foundation to support athletes, was established by the brand in 2017.
Arriving from Italy in 1948, the Pillitteri family has been committed to viticulture and winemaking excellence for over 6 decades. The brand has been recognized with numerous accolades, having instituted an austere and meticulous policy for monitoring and classifying wine, based on vineyard grape quality, pressing and fermentation of the wine, and the wines ageing and blending process. “It’s about family, teamwork, and ultimately making award-winning wines that can be enjoyed by everyone,” says Alex Kolundzic, head winemaker at Pillitteri.
You can order your bottle at www.degrassewine.com. Andre has also signed a limited number of bottles being gifted to anyone that donates more than $500 to the Andre De Grasse Family Foundation before the end of the year. Both De Grasse and Pillitteri are familiar with winning awards for their work, with their latest partnership being the embodiment of such excellence.