In the beverage world, drinks are often lauded for their “strong finish.” The same could be said of John Elway’s on-field record: The former NFL quarterback capped a 16-year Hall of Fame career with two consecutive championships, notching the MVP award for Super Bowl XXXIII in his final game.
Off the field, he’s currently president of football operations and general manager for his former team, the Denver Broncos. In addition, he owns four steakhouses, the eponymous Elway’s, across the Denver metro area. It was here Elway developed a palate for good wine. Not content merely sipping it, he decided he had to have a hand in making it, and partnered with fourth-generation Napa Valley luminary Robert Mondavi Jr. The result was 7Cellars. Launched in 2015, the label takes its name from Elway’s cherished Broncos jersey number.
Below, Elway shares with VinePair his appreciation for wine, his favorite places to drink, and why he can’t quit Coors Light.
1. Is there a category you’re into, or into learning about these days?
It’s wine. I began a deeper appreciation for wine when I opened my first Elway’s restaurant over 15 years ago. As I began to learn more about food, I began to learn how it paired with wine. That’s what created my interest to launch our wine company, 7Cellars. The more I learned, the more it made me realize how little I knew, and how much I want to continue to learn.
2. What do you typically order when you’re out with friends or hanging out at home?
It just depends what I’m doing. After golf, or on the weekend, I like to grab a Coors Light. It’s light and refreshing. In the evening, I enjoy an occasional Scotch and soda. For dinner, I enjoy my Elway’s Reserve Cab.
3. What’s the first drink you remember ever enjoying?
Coors Light. It was our college beer of choice. Interestingly, when I got drafted to the Broncos, I was lucky to be that much closer to Golden, Colo., and the home of the Silver Bullet.
4. How have your tastes changed over the years?
Like most people, I think they’ve evolved. People say that Scotch is an acquired taste. I can’t say that I liked it in my 20s or early 30s, but I did later. Same with wine. It took time for me to enjoy it like I do now.
5. What’s your favorite drinking destination and why?
It may not be a specific place, but rather any body of water. I have a home on Lake Coeur d’Alene [Idaho] and enjoy sitting on the deck with a glass of my Elway’s Reserve Chardonnay or a Scotch staring at the water. It’s peaceful. I also went to the Bahamas last year a couple of times, and there’s nothing like sitting on a boat in the evening enjoying your favorite beverage.
6. What’s the best and worst bottle in your fridge right now?
I think there’s an old bottle of some licorice liqueur on my bar. I’m not sure why it’s still there. Now that you asked this question, you reminded me that I should probably throw it away. My best is a 2009 Château Lafite Rothschild. I know why that one is still there.
7. What else are you drinking these days?