One of our favorite people, former NBA star Yao Ming, isn't from Beijing (he's from Shanghai), but we like the guy so much that we're always interested in what he's doing, post-basketball. When Yao isn't teaching kids how to play his favorite sport, he's doing something more grown-up: making wine. 

So when we saw on this morning that Yao is looking to crowdsource a new round of funding for his winery in Napa Valley, California, we perked right up. Yao's looking to hit a three USD 3 million in this case, to build a visitor center in Napa and a Shanghai tasting room, The Wall Street Journal reported.

For people who have previously contributed to crowdfunding efforts on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, this isn't quite the same. Instead of giving 5 bucks and getting glass of Yao Family Wine, the minimum investment here is USD 5,000. You must also be a US citizen or permanent resident to participate, thanks to US securities and investment laws. 

Still interested? Better get in quickly. As of 11am today, the effort was just beyond halfway to its goal. 

"I like the wines, but they are expensive, with the cheapest one retailing for 40 dollars in the US, where competition is fierce among Napa Valley brands, and RMB 600 in China. In other words, these aren't your everyday wines, but are instead something that might be bought by people here who are curious or Yao fans or have lots of cash or fit all three niches. Given Yao Ming is wildly popular in China, the kind of celebrity who could inspire people to try wine, it would be nice to see cheaper options down the line," said Grape Wall of China Founder Jim Boyce.

"Last year, I helped organize a winery tour of Ningxia and Tom Hinde, director of winemaking for Yao, joined it. You could see the excitement when we told people he worked with Yao and, in turn, Hinde was very open in sharing advice with the Ningxia winemakers and answering questions when he opened his wines during dinner to try with the roast mutton," Boyce said via email.

Learn more about the crowdfunding effort and get your credit card out here

Photo: Crowdfunder/Yao Family Wines


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