SNOQUALMIE — Twenty years ago, “hunting and fishing” used to be common answers when professional golfers filled out questionnaires about their hobbies.
These days, “wine” is a popular answer, especially on the over-50 Champions Tour.
“A lot of guys are wine guys,” said Bobby Clampett as he took a break from hitting balls on the range at the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge.
The Boeing Classic, which begins Friday, is a good stop for golfers who enjoy wine because Washington is the No. 2 state in wine production behind California, according to the Washington State Wine Commission.
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Clampett partners with Gelfand Vineyards in Paso Robles, Calif., to produce three labels of blended reds.
“I’m half-French. I was born and raised in California. It’s very much a part of my background and my culture,” Clampett said.
Another Champions Tour golfer with wine in his bloodline is South African David Frost, a third-generation vintner. He now partners with a friend who is in charge of the grape-growing and production on a 500-acre tract in South Africa.
Duffy Waldorf has a wine cellar with 1,126 bottles. He was able to give a precise number because he recently had an inventory taken. Jeff Sluman couldn’t supply a precise count but estimated that his collection “fluctuates” between 1,500 and 2,000 bottles.
Sluman said some of his bottles are from the Quilceda Creek winery in Snohomish. The winery makes award-winning Cabernet Savignon produced from grapes from the Horse Heaven Hills and Red Mountain areas of Eastern Washington.
Golf.com called Waldorf “golf’s unofficial resident wine connoisseur” and two years ago had him rate wines of current and present players. His two five-star selections were a 2007 Jack Nicklaus private reserve blend of five California varietals and an Annika Sorenstam 2006 Syrah from Wente Vineyards in California.
The roll call of golfers who either lend their name to a wine label includes Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Arnold Palmer, Mike Weir, Gary Player, Cristie Kerr, Nicklaus and Sorenstam.
Golfers travel a lot, and that offers opportunities for wine exploration such as visiting vineyards and enjoying local wines. Frost said wine lovers on the Tour get invited to the homes of collectors and connoisseurs for tastings.
Waldorf was looking forward to selecting a Washington Syrah with his Tuesday night meal. That was the night Frost selected a Washington Fume’ Blanc when he dined at The Brooklyn Seafood, Steak and Oyster House.
Frost said he has a fondness for Washington Pinot Noirs. He offered this basic wine advice: “The only way to learn about wine is to taste it.”