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A Passion For Wine

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Valeri Bure spent three-plus seasons with the Panthers from

By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com

Some 15 years ago, former Panthers right winger Valeri Bure took an interest in collecting wine while playing in the NHL. Little did he realize then his hobby would turn into a vocation.

The popular Bure, a 20-goal scorer with the Panthers in 2003-04, has spent the past several years producing Bure Family Wines. Made at Chateau Boswell Winery in Napa Valley, Bure’s wine – a Majesty Blend of 85 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 14 percent Cabernet Franc and 1 percent Merlot, and a Nuit Blanche of 85 Sauvignon Blanc and 15 percent Semillon - has won raves.

Bure’s red wine has been described as “rich and vibrant with smooth, integrated tannins, cigar box and cedar making way for black fruits and a velvety mouth feel.”

“We only make 150 cases of each wine,” said Bure recently. “We’re a really small winery. But we have distributors in Los Angeles and Las Vegas – we’re in the top 10 restaurants – and we sell through our mailing list. 

“We’ve been fortunate that people have enjoyed it and, hopefully, we can make some of the best wines from California.”

Bure, who once scored 147 points (68 goals) in 66 games in the Western Hockey League, started collecting wine while playing for the Canadiens in the middle 1990s.

“I would collect them, do a lot of research,” he said. “In the off-season I’d love to travel with my family to different regions in France, different regions in Italy, and the same thing in California where my wife (actress Candace Cameron) is from. We’d go to different wineries and study the difference between this winery and that winery. How do they make it different? There’s so many different ways you can approach making wine, so it’s interesting to know the possibilities.

“Eventually I tried some of the wines from California and fell in love with them.”

Bure said he became more involved in wine after meeting Joshua Peeples of Chateau Boswell. “It was about seven years ago and I got on board a little, behind the scenes, learning all it takes to make a bottle of wine,” Bure said. “And from there I said, ‘Listen, it’s a perfect time to start work on my own label.’ ” So about three years ago we hired Luc Morlet, a fourth generation winemaker from France.”

Bure said developing his palate has been “like a training.”

Bure Family Wines
“You have to have some kind of palate to begin with, but you end up training your palate and refining it to what you like personally,” he said. “Because the bottle of wine I’m making is, hopefully, something other people will think is a good wine. I’m not trying to make the wine to stylistically fit into a profile. We’ll go over 60 barrels just to try them and decide which ones are good, which ones are not so good, which ones we’re not going to use at all. So if you think about it, 60 different barrels and only then we’ll start working on the blends.”

Bure’s career in South Florida began June 23 of 2001 when, during the NHL Entry Draft held at BankAtlantic Center, the Panthers acquired Bure from Calgary in exchange for Rob Niedermayer. Bure teamed with his brother Pavel for six months before Pavel was traded in March of ’02 to the Rangers.

Bure finished his career with 33 goals over three seasons with the Panthers. He ended his NHL career with 400 points (174 goals) in 10 seasons. Five years later, Bure’s skates and sticks have been replaced by barrels and grapes.

When asked his favorite of the wines he’s produced, Bure said; “You know they’re all my favorites because that’s how I make them. We go through so many blends…I love them all. It’s interesting when you taste with other people because they seem to choose a favorite. As the proprietor and the one who makes the final decision? I like them all.”

Bure, who has lived in South Florida since retiring after the 2003-04 season, is currently splitting his time between South Florida and California. But with his wife on a new series on ABC Family – Make It or Break It – Bure said the family might move permanently to California.

For now, there’s wine to make.

NOTE: More information on Val Bure’s wine can be found at burefamilywines.com. A new release will be available likely in September.
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