Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spotlight: Ex-Raider/Grambling Tiger now playing All-Pro as Texas grape grower

Photo: Former pro football player Alphonse Dotson now grows coveted grapes at his Certenberg Vineyards (Photo by Dutch Rall).

Former Grambling State University All-American defensive tackle Alphonse A. Dotson hopes to open winery

VOCA, Texas — As he strides through his vineyard wearing a wide-brimmed hat and tan coveralls, the years fall away so easily from Alphonse Dotson that, even at age 65, one can picture him lining up at defensive tackle for the Oakland Raiders. While nearly 40 years have passed since Dotson was tossing aside blockers, he remains an imposing figure — the result of 70-hour work weeks tending some of the most prized grapes in Texas.

His broad grin and outstretched hand belie his fearsome football image as he greets visitors to his 83-acre vineyard northwest of Austin. His handshake, which threatens, but doesn't crush, reveals the calluses that come from hard work.

Here, at Certenberg Vineyards, Dotson's grapevines — some 1,800 plants in all — have produced what some say are the best cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay grapes in the Texas Hill Country. Wine is hot in Texas and the wine coming out of the Hill Country is winning numerous awards. In January, Saveur magazine included Dotson and the vineyard in its 10th annual list of 100 favorites in the world of food.


Dotson not only grow the best wine grapes in Texas, but has produced a line of great football players in his family. His son is defensive tackle Santana N. Dotson who was NFL Rookie of the Year in 1992 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played in two Super Bowls with the Green Bay Packers. He was a Super Bowl champion winning Super Bowl (XXXI) with the Packers and ended a 10 year career playing with the Washington Redskins in 2002.

Dotson's grandson is Alonzo Dotson ... nephew of Santana Dotson. Alonzo is an Oklahoma senior DE that is preparing for the NFL draft.


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