Call him a “Warrior,” call him SLUC Nancy’s former savior, call him one of the best French players of the past 10 years never to play in the NBA … but now you can call Cyril Julian a degreed oenologist – and a guy with the enviable chance to live out two of his dream careers.
While winemaking may seem like a bit of a strange choice for one who, shall we say, “enjoyed the perks of his lifestyle” as a Harley Davidson motorcycle-driving, heavy metal-loving dude during his on-court heyday, it seems the calling to become a vintner was never far away.
According to the bio on his brand-new vinocentric website (opened for business on October 1), Julian’s “passion for working the land and the vine was born in me.” Julian claims to have first been won over by the grape consciously upon his summer visits to his paternal grandparents’ farm, where young Cyril helped out in the vineyards since age five.
(One wonders what might have become of the lad had summers been spent with his mothers’ folks: They were granite workers.)
Unfortunately for the Julian family, as Cyril explains, certain European Union agricultural policy forced the clan to give up the vineyards on the family plot in favor of wheat and grain in 1993. By this time, notes the basketball player, he’d already won a European youth championship for France in Budapest, Hungary, and was about to embark upon a professional career.
And what a professional career it was for Julian, with three Pro A championships, one French Cup, three championship MVPs, one all-star game MVP nod plus, perhaps most importantly, a silver medal with Team France at the 2000 Olympics. (Yes, 2000 was the year of *that* dunk.) In three different tours in Nantes, Julian gained something of a local following, winning a spot on the “Nancy Dream Team” and even inspiring an independent blog founded in 2006 centered solely on his exploits.
However, despite the fact that he was still winning titles and accolades with SLUC Nancy as he neared his mid-30s (Nancy appeared in consecutive LNB finals from 2006-08, finally taking the crown on the third attempt and earning a Euroleague bid for 2008-09), Julian saw the writing on the wall – or perhaps the call of the muse came stronger: In the 2007 offseason, he began teaching classes in oenology and wine appreciation.
Julian retired following the 2008-09 to further pursue his studies in oenology – now there’s something not even the most jaded sportswriter pens every day – and graduated with a degree in the subject from Burgundy-located specialists l’Institut de la Vigne et du Vin.
No telling how Julian’s business is doing early on, but the former baller is certainly keeping busy in a fairly large selling effort and an entire semester’s worth of an oenology course.
Regardless of financial success or failure, Julian’s enterprise may also teach a few valuable life lessons, such as about the importance of education, viable existence beyond sports and that you should never be afraid of following a dream – even if you’ve already achieved one.