December 10, 2020

By Khari Jones, Jr.,

Contributing Writer


NBA legend, Isiah Thomas is doing fantastic work in the champagne industry. He has the number one first seeded grape champagne in the United States. Thomas not only made history playing basketball, now he's making history as an entrepreneur.

Thomas spoke with the L.A. Sentinel about his recent endeavors and partnerships to help expand his company. To reach the success where Thomas is today, it wasn't easy. Growing up in Chicago gave him the mentality to be successful in all areas of life.

Breaking into the champagne industry was challenging for Thomas, mainly because he is a Black man and according to Thomas, companies weren’t willing to work with him.

He decided to create his own, and it worked out for the better.  Thomas started Cheurlin Champagne, and now they are one of the fastest-growing champagne companies in the United States. "Things are going extremely well right now. Our champagne is one of the leading sellers in some of the states. We are putting our champagne online right now with Thirstie.

When you're trying to navigate your way through COVID, everyone had to come through where we are today, on zoom and the virtual world,"  said Thomas.

Thomas states the partnership is unique because it gives them the e-commerce and online presence they have been looking for, and it allows them to retain customers and interact with them. When consumers go to Cheurlin Champagne's website, they can purchase from there directly. "It's been a good working relationship, and we plan to expand it further.

When the pandemic started, Thomas brought his team together to make sure they could communicate virtually, via phone, zoom, or skype, to keep one another updated with their weekly meetings instead of meeting face-to-face. Working virtually has given Cheurlin Champagne an extended reach.




They are not only in the United States, but they are located in Ontario, Canada as well.

To continue their success during the pandemic, Thomas gave everyone assignments. During this unprecedented time, Thomas applied essential social methods to keep the teams’ spirits high, knowing during the pandemic, people are struggling in their personal lives. "The things we tried to do was stay afloat and adjust our expectations, and what I said to all of our staff was that our goal is to ready ourselves to hit the ground running again once the pandemic is over."

Being in sports and entertainment has helped them thrive. Cheurlin Champagne partners with 450 NBA players, and it has helped them reach an audience of over 2.5 billion people.

Thomas says, "Using the social media platform that they have and ours, we were able to stay on top of minds and expand our brand reach."

He also says sports has a way of bringing people together. "Sports also has a way of helping you communicate and being a good teammate, meaning you have to have an accomplish a goal and set a vision.

Playing in the NBA has helped Thomas become a great leader in the business world. "What I've learned from sports, and what I've been able to bring over from sports to business is the ability to focus a group of individuals on setting a goal and setting a higher vision and then putting some values around in it,” Thomas said.  

Thomas implied sports and entertainment is pretty much how the Black culture is introduced to the world through those vehicles. He stated, "Sports and entertainment, you not only have a voice, but you have change-makers as opposed to going through the traditional route in the champagne space.

I used the assets that I had in terms of being in sports and entertainment. Partnering with the NBA and NFL, we were able to leverage the credibility and the sustainability to move through a twelve-month cycle."



Cheurlin Champagne has one of the healthiest products in the country. Thomas recognized the American pallet was shifting towards healthier things that balanced your body rather than go against your body.

"When we look at what sugar has done to our bodies over the years, what I wanted to bring a champagne that was zero sugar or low sugar." Thomas had naysayers telling him low sugar wasn't the way to go, and he stated the American people hadn't had the opportunity to taste low sugar champagne.

Thomas claims that they are the largest high-value producer of the first grape champagne in the world. He states, "No one can claim that. I'm the largest African American owner- importer of the first grape champagne in the world. That means we're bringing you the best of the best every time you open up of our bottles."

It was a process of becoming the first grape champagne brand in the world. There were many doors slammed in Thomas' face, and he states those doors are still being closed today.

"We're the fastest growing, but Sam's Club and Walmart still haven’t put us on their shelves. Amazon, Whole Foods still hasn't put on their shelf, along with Target and Costco.

You can imagine all the no's that I've gotten, but I'm from the West Side of Chicago, and I keep knocking. I've been told no all my life." Thomas said he grew up shining shoes and took that mentality. “I keep pushing.”

He has been named Champagne Producer of the Year, the last two years. "Every time somebody tastes our champagne, compared to any other champagne, they quickly decide they want the best of the best, which is ours."




Nobody has disputed any of the claims Cheurlin Champagne has made regarding being the best low-sugar and zero-sugar champagne in the world.

Cheurlin Champagne is disrupting the champagne industry, and Thomas said they have no problem with being the underdogs.

"We don't mind being the disruptor.

That's kind of who we are with Cheurlin Champagne.



I'm used to having the bad boy role with the Detroit Pistons, and we had to show up when it was a Laker-Celtic party, and we were the new kids on the block.

With the Pistons, we had a good team, but people didn't  know about it, so we had to let it be known.

Once we stepped on the stage, we were able to compete. Now that our Cheurlin Champagne has stepped on the stage, and people have tasted it, now we're competing." Thomas' company doesn't have the traditional resources that big corporations have, such as massive revenue and all the materials for their products.

Cheurlin Champagne relies on its quality and a strong team to drive their success.

Thomas gives the analogy that his champagne teammates are like the best NBA players in history, but they have raggedy shoes.

"We walk in, and we are the team that has the mismatched uniforms, raggedy shoes, and holes in our socks. But on my team, I have Kareem, LeBron, Jordan, I got Magic and myself, and we're getting ready to compete.

We don't have the pretty colors on our uniforms, but when the game starts, we're the best team, and that's Cheurlin Champagne right now."

Category: Business