Wine exciting enough to cry over

When Dick Vermeil (below) was a head coach in the National Football League, he was known for his emotional, teary outbursts as much as for his success in the won-lost columns.

He coached two Super Bowl teams, losing with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1981 but winning with the St. Louis Rams in 2000.

Now retired from that world and at age 73, Vermeil is working hard on Vermeil Wines, his boutique winery founded last year in Calistoga, CA. Its first offering, Jean-Louis Vermeil Cabernet-Sauvignon named after his late father, has gone to market.

What's the quality level?

Robert Parker Jr., the globally well-regarded critic for the Wine Advocate, said:

"His initial dive into the wine world is impressive. It goes against the rule of thumb that celebrities rarely achieve anything special in the world of wine."

Vermeil, who was born in his great grandfather’s home in Calistoga, leases a 178-acre vineyard near the Silverado Pass from the Frediani family. He is producing only about 1,500 to 2,000 cases of upmarket wines this year -- cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, zinfandel, cabernet franc and a charbono. Most of it will be online or in the winery's store.

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