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MLB catcher Chris Iannetta talks baseball, wine

MLB player Chris Iannetta (right) of the Arizona Diamondbacks has had quite the baseball career. In 2012, he and teammate Vernon Wells started a winery. (Photo courtesy of Chris Iannetta)

Providence native and St. Ray’s graduate Chris Iannetta has had quite the Major League Baseball career.

He just wrapped up his eleventh season with his fourth team, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“It was just one of those things that you were trying to get to the next level and I was able to go from St. Ray’s to UNC and then get drafted out of UNC. Then, it was trying to make it up as quickly as I could and just get to the next level,” Iannetta told NBC 10 News.

“Finally when I got AAA I thought I might have an opportunity to play. To imagine that I would play 11 full seasons in major-league baseball I don’t think I would ever believe it,” he said.

Iannetta also added businessman and winemaker to his impressive resume. He told NBC 10 that his passion for wine started back here in Rhode Island.

“I grew up first-generation Italian and both of my grandfathers made garage wine and brought it over from Italy,” he said. “They would go to the farmer’s market on Sunday and source their grapes and they would make their wine for the year. So, I was always around it.”

It wasn't till he made it to the big leagues that his pallet for fine wine expanded.

In 2012, while rehabbing an injury, Iannetta and teammate Vernon Wells decided jump into the wine game, named "Jack” Winery, using their kids’ initials.

The rest is history.

“We started small -- just made 100 cases as kind of a boutique wine,” said Iannetta. “We wanted to make a really high-end, high-quality wine. We didn’t want to be baseball players -- they just slapped a name on wine, but for the most part, we just want to be really good wine makers.”

But the California fires have destroyed most of Napa, including the area where their vineyard is.

“From what we hear, the house and the vines are still standing but obviously, the surrounding areas are pretty damaged and there is some smoke damage to the house,” said Iannetta. “For the most part we hope to get back running as quickly as possible and we will go from there.”

Jack Winery is looking to give back as they are selling T-shirts on their website at Jackwinery.com. All proceeds will go to first responders.

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