Two cups define the career of John Grahame, a Denver native and backup goaltender who signed with the Colorado Avalanche this summer. The first, the Stanley Cup, he earned as a goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning when the team won the National Hockey League’s highest honor in 2004. Today, as his days in the net wind down, he’s focusing on a more delicate cup: the wine glass.
Thirteen years spent suiting up in the NHL exposed Grahame to worldwide travel, the steak house lifestyle, and fine wine. Over time, he recognized he didn’t just enjoy wine—he also had a discerning palate. Perhaps, he thought, this was his entry point into a post-hockey career. And so last year, Grahame launched his own wine label, Rorschach (www.rorschachwine.com), with a flagship Cabernet Sauvignon blend that is voluptuous and structured—and pricey. The high-end bottle, which can be found on wine lists from Panzano and Elway’s Steakhouse to Caribou Club in Aspen, demands more than $90. While Grahame doesn’t take off his skates to stomp the grapes himself—he purchases a proprietary blend from a boutique winery in California’s Napa Valley—the label, distribution, and story behind the bottle are all him. “I want people to respect [Rorschach] and not think I’m just some jock who is promoting a run-of-the-mill wine,” Grahame says.
Rorschach, named after the psychological inkblot tests, has found a following. But recognizing the price tag is out of reach for many, Grahame hopes to offer a much less expensive (but still not cheap at $20 to $30 a bottle) Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir; he’s already sourcing grapes. “That’s one of the good things about outsourcing the wine. I can pick the best of what I’m looking for; I’m not locked into one vineyard,” he says. “If it was a bad year or a vintage isn’t up to par, I can look elsewhere and protect the Rorschach name.”