Yao Ming, retired NBA player, owner of the Shanghai Sharks and humanitarian, established his own Napa Valley wine company: Yao Family Wines. The company released its inaugural wine, a 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, under the Yao Ming brand name in mainland China. Yao Family Wines has appointed Pernod Ricard China as the sole and exclusive importer and distributor of the brand in mainland China.

“Yao Family Wines crafts world-class wines from Napa Valley, and we look forward to introducing wine lovers in China to this remarkable wine-growing region,” Ming said in a statement. “I believe that wine can bring people together, and make our lives more enjoyable. Basketball gave me the opportunity to live in the United States and discover many wonderful things in America. Now I look forward to bringing great wines from California back to the Chinese people.”

Yao Family Wines sources the grapes for its Yao Ming Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley vineyards with a reputation for excellent fruit, it says. The wines are aged exclusively in 100 percent French oak barrels for at least 18 months, the company says. Individual barrels from each lot are hand-selected by taste for the final blend.

The label for the Yao Ming 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was designed by Chuck House, a renowned California wine label designer, the company says. It features a hand-drawn illustration of Napa Valley with Chinese symbol representing both cultures in which Ming has made his home, it explains.

Yao Ming 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon currently is available in China and will be available in the United States in 2012, the company says.