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Yao Ming shows off his new life as a wine vintner at an exclusive Houston celeb chef luncheon

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Yao Ming, wine, wine barrel
Yao Ming, pictured here in California, introduces his Napa Valley cabernets to Houston over lunch at Reef.  Yao Family Wines
Bryan Caswell, Yao Ming, February 2013
Lanky Reef chef Bryan Caswell, left, looks absolutely petite up against Yao Ming. Photo courtesy of Reef
Yao Ming wine, cabernet
The Yao Ming Family Reserve will be sold exclusively in China, the Yao Ming cab will have limited availability in Houston. Yao Family Wines/Facebook
Yao Ming, wine, wine barrel
Bryan Caswell, Yao Ming, February 2013
Yao Ming wine, cabernet

Where do talented NBA stars go once their aging bodies diffuse their athletic prowess? For Yao Ming at least one direction has been west to California where the Houston Rockets mega-talent (he played in the All-Star Game eight times) has found a calling as a vintner.

On Wednesday, Yao introduced his two Napa cabernets from Yao Family Wines to Houston during a vintner's lunch at Reef.

Republic National Distributing invited 35 sommeliers and wine buyers from top tier restaurants to sample the Yao Ming and Yao Ming Family Reserve and to chow down on dishes from chef Bryan Caswell's kitchen.

Reef's Bill Floyd reports that you'll have to go to China to sample the $600-a-bottle reserve, but that the regular cab will have limited availability in Houston. Price is expected to hit the $180 mark. The wines have been available in China for two years, but are just now entering the United States market.

"They're exceptional, especially for a debut effort," reported Houston Chronicle wine writer Dale Robertson, following a November visit to Yao's winery.

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