Steve Hauschka is an NFL veteran, with fans from coast to coast, a beautiful family, and a new lifestyle in Southern California. But he’s not one to stay home. Steve says that some of his favorite memories are from traveling to vineyards around the world.
“Visiting wine regions is a great way to see a place you’ve never been,” says Steve. He and his wife Lindsey have spent time in both domestic and international vineyards, exploring the beauty, texture, and people that contribute to the viticultural landscape. “It’s such a special way to meet the local people.”
He says that every place he has visited — from Stellenbosh to Walla Walla — has its individual vibe, often delivered by the hospitality and warm welcome from the producers. “People are excited to show their craft and the conditions at each vineyard,” he says. To him, wine is best when accompanied by the story of its homeland. “You can appreciate a place like Bordeaux much more when you are standing in the vineyard,” he says.
Steve appreciates the nuances of wine as much as possible by looking at it through an artistic lens, noticing the flavor and the “games it plays on your tongue.” This approach originated during his childhood in Boston, where grew up tasting and enjoying a variety of stone fruits and berries from his father’s orchard.
These days Steve has his own garden, decidedly more SoCal than Northeast, with passionfruit, citrus, avocados, persimmons, and more. He frequents farmers markets and appreciates the “amazing growing conditions” of California. Tasting so many rich and vibrant flavors contributes to his perspective on wine. “It keeps my taste buds active,” he says.
While playing for the Seattle Seahawks, life in the Pacific Northwest furthered his appreciation for work of vineyard professionals. “It was so cool, living there and meeting the farmers in Walla Walla,” he recalls. He met people that had moved to Washington a century ago to farm produce, but as demand shifted, the focus has been on vineyards and wine grapes. “This is exactly who you want growing your grapes. Farmers.”
Steve says that he’s come to see wine in a way that’s similar to enjoying art. He tries to interpret what the producer had in mind for each release. “Why did they do it that way?” is often a question he ponders when experiencing wine. He’s fascinated by both wineries backed by multi-generational teams as well those that have been started by people making wine for the first time. “This is part of appreciating wine, where it came from, connecting to the story,” he says.
Over the years Steve has collected some special bottles of wine, mainly from places that he’s visited, but these days he feels more inclined to pop a cork to enjoy with a meal beside family or friends. He often follows the mood or the season to drink something inspired by the moment. “Find a local shop near you that gets you stuff ready to drink right then, when it’s on your mind,” he says.