NAPA, California (AP) — Former NBA star Yao Ming hopes his 7-foot star power combined with China’s thriving wine market will help his new vintage score a slam dunk with Chinese connoisseurs.

The recently retired Houston Rockets center on Monday released the first-ever bottles of his new Yao Ming-branded wine.

The 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is currently available only in mainland China, where the market for imported wines has boomed over the past decade.

Yao’s company, Yao Family Wines, has produced 5,000 cases of its first release at a cost of $289 per bottle, which includes hefty Chinese import fees. The wine will be available in the U.S. later next year for $170 per bottle.

The 31-year-old retired in July because of chronic foot injuries. He now attends college in Shanghai.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.