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Vintner, Vegas Golden Knights owner talks wine, hockey, Raiders

Vintner, Vegas Golden Knights owner talks wine, hockey, raiders. 8/02/17 (KSNV)

Billionaire Bill Foley has had his hands in many businesses. The chairman of Fidelity National Financial is a winemaker, and since June 2016, the owner of the NHL expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights.

The vintner said he currently owns 20 wineries. Most of them are in California and some are in New Zealand.

“We’re going to have a really good crop, because look at these clusters,” said Foley, speaking from his winery in Sonoma County, California. “The clusters are really fully developed.”

Like an NHL team, a vineyard can have both bad and good seasons.

However, Foley pointed out that “there’s a little more variable in the wine business.”

Those variables: early rain or heat spikes, for example, which can ruin a crop.

When it comes to wine and hockey, though, Foley said he applies the same philosophy.

“We want to be the very best. We want to be successful in everything we do. We do not accept bad product. If I have a winemaker that can’t make the right, quality wine with the product that we give, the grapes, that winemaker has to move on,” said Foley. “That’s like a player that didn’t produce or didn’t perform. So… same basic philosophy, but… it’s a benevolent dictatorship.”

That title, Foley gave himself, but what about the title of “pioneer?”

Foley brought Las Vegas its first major league professional sports franchise. Less than a year after the NHL granted Las Vegas a team, the NFL approved the Oakland Raiders’ request to relocate to Las Vegas.

The Raiders’ training camp is taking place in Napa, California, about an hour from Foley’s Chalk Hill Estate.

Some would argue that had Foley not brought the NHL to Las Vegas, the NFL would have never even considered Las Vegas as an option.

To that, Foley countered, “I think Mark Davis was pretty interested in it. Wasn't he?”

Still, Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders, had to get approval from the NFL.

“Yeah, maybe they wouldn't have come,” said Foley.

The puck drops on the Vegas Golden Knights inaugural season this October.

The Raiders are scheduled to begin playing in Las Vegas at the start of the 2020-2021 season.

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