A patnership between NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe and Chris Figgins, the son of Leonetti founder Gary Figgins.
Gary Figgins, was two years behind Bledsoe in school. While the two did not know each other particularly well growing up, Walla Walla was then and remains now a small town. Bledsoe and Figgins’ lives intersected in innumerable ways. Bledsoe’s mother was Chris’ junior high school English teacher. Bledsoe’s father, a teacher and football coach, gave motivational speeches Figgins vividly recalls to this day. The message was to aim high. It was a lesson Figgins internalized.
While both Bledsoe and Figgins grew up in Walla Walla, their lives took considerably different, though similarly successful, trajectories. After attending Washington State University (WSU) where he was a star quarterback, Bledsoe was drafted first overall in the National Football League (NFL) in 1993 by the New England Patriots. He would play fourteen seasons in the NFL, becoming one of the league’s most prolific passers. Bledsoe brought the Patriots to the Super Bowl in 1996 and played an integral role in the team’s first championship in 2002. While many remember the emergence of Tom Brady that year, true New England fans – of which I am one I must add - remember the pivotal role Bledsoe played in numerous games, including the conference championship, that season.
Figgins says there was “tremendous pride in Walla Walla about what Drew accomplished” at WSU and in the NFL. Figgins, however, always believed that Bledsoe would accomplish even greater things in his life after the NFL. Figgins just didn’t know he would also be playing a part in it.
Like Bledsoe, Figgins attended Washington State University where he studied horticulture. Figgins returned to Walla Walla to work at Leonetti Cellar in 1996. Over time, he assumed the roles of viticulturalist and winemaker. He now serves as Chief Executive Officer and Director of Winemaking.