Eat & Drink
Word came through in May of a new wine venture from Damon Huard and Dan Marino called Passing Time. Making Washington wine is the goal for a Husky quarterback who led the Dawgs to some great seasons and a Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Miami Dolphins and Ace Ventura. What’s interesting is that with the starpower that Marino and Huard provide, it could’ve just been a vanity project. But after reading more about Passing Time, it’s anything but.
Washington wine has a few notable people, of the famous sort, that are involved with wine. Yakima native and actor Kyle MacLachlan is a part of Pursed by Bear; a label that he makes with Eric Fisher of Dunham Cellars. Former WSU Quarterback and NFL All-Pro Drew Bledsoe has his Doubleback that is made with Chris Figgins of Leonetti and Figgins. Now we have Damon Huard and Dan Marino entering the fray of wine with their Passing Time.
The vinous relationship between Huard and Marino started during their time playing together for the Miami Dolphins. As the quarterback group of any team spends a lot of time together, the conversation turned to drinking. While Marino appreciated a good bottle of wine, Huard was more of a beer drinker. That evolved as Marino introduced his younger teammate to higher quality wines. From the interviews and chats with Marino and Huard talking about Passing Time, Marino started out well versed in Washington wine, having enjoyed the releases from Andrew Will, Betz, and Col Solare amongst others. This peaked the interest of Huard and the seeds were planted between the two in their journey into wine business.
With Huard’s ties to the Northwest, he and Marino wanted to make a Cabernet Sauvignon-focused wine from some of Washington’s best vineyard sources. The grapes come from Klipsun, Discovery, and Champoux; places where wine nerds understand the quality of fruit produced. What has also gotten wine nerds excited about Passing Time is that Chris Peterson is the winemaker. Peterson is the winemaker of Avennia; one of the hot up and coming wineries in the Washington wine world. These factors have made for a buzzy entrance of Passing Time into the conversation.
Celebrity wine is a tricky thing. On the surface, people can think that these are vanity projects. But from what I’ve read and heard from industry people, Passing Time isn’t that. Huard has gone in the deep end for wine and wants to be closely involved. Huard and Marino are also partnered in the winery with Doug Donnelly and Kevin Hughes.
As a Husky alum, I’d like to imagine that Huard and Bledsoe have gotten into some friendly trash-talking with regard to their wine. While they never faced one another in an Apple Cup, the former teammates with the New England Patriots have a new arena to enter to trade some barbs. And with wine gaining a higher and higher profile in Washington, having folks like Huard, Marino, and Bledsoe to get sports fans intrigued only benefits the industry. Passing Time’s 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon will release in Spring 2015.