A safety in the NFL for 13 seasons with New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington, San Francisco, Houston and Atlanta, Terry Hoage discovered after he retired in 1997 that having a job behind a desk would not have much of a chance to be in his future.
“I tried a couple of things when I was done playing ball,” said Hoage. “I did the stocks and bonds thing (with Merrill Lynch) and a couple of other things to see if I liked it, but everything was in an office. I’d spent my entire life outside in the weather, in the elements, and it was really hard for me to sit in an office. I just really didn’t enjoy it.”
Hoage and his wife, Jennifer, found a career that they would both enjoy in 2002 after they bought a 26-acre vineyard in Paso Robles, California. Becoming farmers, they began to produce wine.
“Farming is physical work. Sometimes it’s hard work. But I get to be outside no matter what the weather,” Hoage said. “Another thing I like about it is I get to do something different every single day. One day I might be a winemaker. Another day I might be a tractor repairman. Another day I might be doing something with marketing. I get to run the gamut and so it keeps me interested because I get to do totally different disciplines, maybe in the same day.
“I’m still a jack of all trades, but the business has matured. We’ve been able to hire staff for the day-to-day running of the business, which has been nice. But Jennifer and I are still involved on a daily basis.
“And I didn’t think that I would, but as I got into this business, I started to go back and think about my football career. I did have the luxury of being able to do basically anything that I wanted to do and I ended up owning a vineyard and a winery. I wanted to pay homage to football because it did allow me to do something with this portion of my life that is completely different than anything that I’ve done before.
“I (named the first wines I made) after something related to football, but without beating people over the head with it. I have a Syrah that’s named ‘The Hedge.’ Playing football at the University of Georgia is called ‘playing between the hedges.’ The second wine that I made, which is a Grenache-Syrah, I pay homage to (my former head coach with the Eagles) Buddy Ryan and it’s called ‘The 46’ because I loved playing that defense.
“Of all the defenses that I played in the NFL, the 3-4 and the 4-3, Buddy’s defense, the 46, I just absolutely loved. I wanted to pay homage to Buddy because I played for him eight of my 13 years. I played for him in Philly, Houston and Arizona.”