Red Wavers remember the name Demetrius Porter. The former Bulldog played under Jerry Tarkanian on teams that made two NCAA Tournaments and the 1998 NIT Final Four. Three seasons in France would inspire his latest venture.
"Before games we used to have wine on the table, and you know in America we don't drink wine before the game. It continued to happen," says Porter.
From the hardwood to the vineyard, Porter created his own wine company called Center Cork. The label launched in August after nine months of perfecting the right taste and learning the harvest season.
"You think you can just say, 'Oh I want red wine', well that's not the harvest, buddy. I was asking for the other wines that I'll be releasing later on the Moscatos, those grapes won't be ready till next year. So you learn patience, that's what you learn in the wine game."
When he told his former teammates about his new company they were surprised.
"They were kind of shocked too, like wine? Where did that come from? And then I told them and they were like, 'Oh that makes sense'. Many of them played overseas too so they understood. They had their run-in with the wines too, and fell in love with it from there time over there too."
Porter is also an AAU coach helping dozens of local high school players in the Valley get college scholarships. Part of the profits of Center Cork will go toward getting those players to and from games.
"Because of the pandemic they didn't get an AAU season to be seen. We still have to get out to events that college coaches are watching to continue to help our kids get recruited during this down time," said Porter.
Whether it's a Zinfandel or a Moscato, each one of his wine's names is basketball related. From 'Corkside' to 'pre-game', 'crossover' to 'tip-off', his red blend is even called 'One and done.'
"I would love for it to go as big as I can make it, but never lose the Valley touch because it's for the Valley.
He's a hooper with a love for wine who's trying to help local basketball players in the process.
"It's for a good cause, if I do well here in the Valley, if I could just keep it here I would, but of course I want to get it out to the world," he said.
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