Pouring for a great cause

Dick Vermeil is showcasing some his wines at the Philadelphia Navy Yard to benefit RHD children’s charity.

By Bill Gelman

Legendary NFL coach Dick Vermeil still enjoys chatting it up about his days on the Philadelphia Eagles sidelines. Yes, the 1980 season was a special one as it included a trip to Super Bowl XV, but so was the 1979 season as the team started showing signs that the Birds were ready to contend.

Wine is another one of his favorite things to talk about. He just returned from the Napa Valley, home to Vermeil Wines. What started as a hobby has turned into a prosperous post-NFL business. He is returning to South Philly to pour samples of 2014 Vermeil Cabernet Franc, 2016 Vermeil Sauvignon Blanc, 2014 Jean Louis Vermeil Cabernet and 2015 Vermeil (Dutton Ranch) Chardonnay as part of Philly Pours, which benefit Resources for Human Development Children’s Services. It is taking place on Friday night (6 p.m. Sept. 22) inside the Fretz Showroom in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, 4050 S. 26th St. The special event will feature five dining experiences pairing Vermeil Wines with a menu specially curated by Sylva Senat — a rising star on Philadelphia’s culinary landscape. There also is an exclusive VIP event with Vermeil and Sylva.

“Philly Pours does a lot of great things for people in need,” Vermeil, who resides in Chester County, said.

Former Eagles Harold Carmichael and Vince Papale will also be at the event helping their old coach out. RHD is a diverse continuum of effective and therapeutic services helping thousands of children and their families achieve behavioral and educational goals.

Vermeil’s passion for wine should not come as a surprise as his great grandfather on his mother’s side owned a vineyard, and his paternal great grandfather used the grapes to make wine at home for the family. During his teenage years in California, Vermeil would help out at the family vineyard. After leading the St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl in 2000, Vermeil turned his hobby of winemaking into a thriving business. What started out as 150 to 200 cases a year has transformed into 2,500 cases a year. Several Vermeil Wine Club members reside in the Philadelphia area.

In terms of Friday night, Vermeil will pair one of his wines with a dish prepared by Senat. Steak Au Poivre with white sweet mashed potatoes, oil and salt rubbed rib-eye steak cooked with rosemary, garlic and flambé with cognac finished with black and green peppercorn cream sauce and pan-seared crab cake with Meyer lemon aioli are a few of the culinary selections attendees will enjoy.

Getting back to the 1979 season, the Eagles finished 11–5, good enough for second in the NFC East. However, the 17–14 regular-season win over the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers is one that Vermeil still talks about decades later.

“We beat the undefeated world champions in Philadelphia. It sort of sent a message that the Eagles were for real,” he said.

Tickets to the event are $100 to $150 (VIP).

For more information, visit phillypours.com.