Up Next


How ‘The Conversations Project’ turned Terance Mann into a wine enthusiast

Los Angeles Clippers guard started to value the winemaking process after filming new Hulu series

Terance Mann was introduced to alcohol at a young age. 

Before you rush to judgment, Mann’s family is from St. Lucia, a country known for its rum distilleries. Not to mention, the drinking age is 16 on the Caribbean island.

Regardless, the Los Angeles Clippers guard wasn’t a big fan of drinking.

“It was nasty,” he told Andscape.

Mann, drafted by the Clippers in the second round of the 2019 NBA draft, didn’t try his first wine until his senior year at Florida State. It was a cabernet. He was, again, not much of a fan. On the other hand, like many new, young Black wine drinkers, Mann had a certain kind of wine that first piqued his interest.

“First I was, like, I’m only going to drink white. So I was drinking Moscato,” he said.

This was during the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Mann then “slowly transitioned” into sweeter reds like pinot noir. “And then eventually I started getting to the more bolder wines, like the blends and the cabs and things of that nature.”

A year later, Mann met Andscape senior NBA writer Marc J. Spears, who broke the news of Mann signing a two-year, $22 million contract extension with the Clippers in October 2021. The pair stayed in touch, bonding over a shared appreciation of wines.

“And then he called me a year later, like, ‘I got the perfect opportunity for you if you still want to learn about wine and still drink it,’ ” Mann said of Spears. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ ”
That “perfect opportunity” was the pilot for a television show that eventually became The Conversations Project, the new Hulu series produced by Andscape that debuted Monday. But in 2022, the show was just a pilot episode that was filmed at the Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California.

LA Clippers guard Terance Mann attends the LBA Lega Basket Serie A Playoffs Final Game 5 match between EA7 Emporio Armani Olimpia Milano and Virtus Segafredo Bologna at Mediolanum Forum on June 19 in Milan.

Giuseppe Cottini/Getty Images

It was Mann’s first visit to a winery. He knew next to nothing about the winemaking process. He didn’t even know wineries opened their facilities to the public to tour.

“I think it thought it was just going to be a bunch of grape trees and a house or a warehouse of people just chucking grapes into these winemakers and just doing that,” Mann said. 

“I had no idea that they had so much history in these wine tasting houses.” 

At the winery, he would learn about the difference in the soils and varieties of grapes of the two major California valleys, Napa and Sonoma. He learned the difference in harvesting times for varieties of wine. For instance, white grapes are harvested earlier than red grapes. Grapes used in sparkling wines are harvested even earlier.

“I thought it was just wine,” Mann said. “Chuck it in the thing and you make it.”

For the taping of the pilot, Mann, along with Spears, Clippers assistant coach Brian Shaw, chef David Lawrence, comedian W. Kamau Bell, and others, spoke about his burgeoning appreciation of wine and also “stuff that was going on in life at the time for African American people.” The Conversations Project is billed as a series that explores “thought-provoking discourse across topics like racial justice, mental health, entrepreneurship, travel, spirituality, social media, the LGBTQIA+ community, and more.”

Lawrence, the executive chef and co-owner of Bay Area restaurants 1300 on Fillmore and Black Bark BBQ, isn’t a follower of basketball, so he wasn’t familiar with Mann before the taping last year. But Lawrence was instantly impressed.

“He was open to new things. He was open to wine exploration,” Lawrence told Andscape. “Which I like about young folks now. It doesn’t intimidate them.”

As the guests tried wines for the separate courses, an anonymous source told Andscape that Mann may have gotten a little buzzed from the tastings.

Lawrence would neither confirm nor deny the allegations.

“I plead the Fifth,” he said. “I’m not incriminating the young man.

“What happens in my restaurant stays in my restaurant.”

Mann would only concede that he didn’t drink that much.

“I definitely did not get to that point where I don’t remember anything,” he said, laughing, “but we had a good time.”

(Mann couldn’t remember a single wine that he consumed that day, even his favorite: the dessert wine. “I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I think we went home with a bottle of it.”)

Mann received a wine suitcase from Krug, which he has used to carry up to six bottles of wine to New York and St. Lucia.

Speaking of St. Lucia, the Caribbean island is best known for its spirits, particularly rum: How does Mann’s new affection for wine go over with his family?

“They’re cool with it,” he said. “My mom drinks wine. Well, she doesn’t do it as much anymore, but she used to drink wine too.”

LA Clippers guard Terance Mann plays during the game against the Phoenix Suns in Game 3 of the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs on April 20 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Mann is one of the latest NBA players to get into wine, a hobby that gained popularity in the league over the last 10 to 15 years. ESPN senior writer Baxter Holmes reported on the league’s “secret wine society” in 2018, which is highlighted by stars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade.

“Nobody talks about square footage. Nobody talks about cars or jewelry or whatever,” Wade’s wife, actress Gabrielle Union, said of the players’ newfound interest in wines. “It’s who can bring the best bottle of wine.”

Mann’s Clippers teammate Nicolas Batum, a native of France, naturally has an exquisite collection. “He’s telling me all about the French wine and the one time we were at dinner, he bought a really expensive wine bottle, told me to try it. It was amazing,” Mann said.

Shaw, who played in the NBA for 14 years and has been an assistant coach with the Clippers since 2021, is also someone Mann talks wine with.

Mann may have signed that $22 million contract, but don’t take that to mean he splurges on wines … yet. He estimates that his most expensive bottle of wine costs around $600, a far cry from the $4,000 some bottles of cabernet can fetch.

With that in mind, does Mann have a recommendation for those not earning an NBA contract? Say, for $50?

“Whewwwwww,” Mann said.

What about a $100 bottle?

There, Mann recommends Presidential Wines and JUSTIN Wine, which can cost up to $120 a bottle.

“I think JUSTIN is getting real popular now because it’s such a good wine, more of a blend, but it’s really good.”

Overall, the past three years, particularly since the 2022 pilot taping, Mann has learned to value winemaking, which can be as intricate and time-consuming as, say, being a pro athlete. He looks forward to using that knowledge whenever he opens a wine menu. He plans to curate his own selections to send out to family and friends.

“Before, it was just like, ‘Yeah, just give me any bottle of wine. Give me any cab you got back there,’ ” Mann said. “But now it’s like, ‘What coast is it from?’ I’m asking the … [sommelier], ‘How’s it made?’ Different questions that I have for the wine now.”

Martenzie Johnson is a senior writer for Andscape. His favorite cinematic moment is when Django said, "Y'all want to see somethin?"