Musings on Baseball and Wine – Hey, It’s January. What Do You Want? ;)

All work and no baseball makes Kristen a sad girl…a most unacceptable state of affairs if you ask Kristen, I can tell you that. Lacking the ability to add baseball to the equation, clearly it was time to mix in a little playtime. It’s a three day weekend, so naturally Seth and I lit out for Cambria and Paso Robles the second we were both off work and packed up on Friday night. Yeah, it was a 4 and half hour drive starting at 8 p.m. So what? Brown footed loons are naturally nocturnal…and diurnal and crepuscular for that matter, whichever natural activity cycle is apt to lead to greater work productivity and/or a good time. We’re adaptable like that. Anyway, as we noted walking around town this morning, the Cambria/Paso Robles/long weekend/random weekend thing has been our thing for as long as there has been an us. Some years, I think we use the house more than his parents do…other years I know we do.

And after this many years of coming up here to California’s Central Coast wine county, I can tell you that that natural cycles of baseball and California wine mirror each other in so many different ways it’s a wonder they aren’t more closely associated than the more traditional pairing of baseball and beer. Just to name a few:

  • In California, wine’s biggest event, its Fall Classic if you will, is the Harvest and crush (literally what it sounds like) which occurs in October. And, much like in baseball, you really want to get it over with before you hit November if at all possible.
  • While wine blending, bottling and selling can occur all year long depending on what varietals a winery offers, the majority of the blending, the tinkering with the 25 man roster if you will, occurs in February and March and again in the early summer months.
  • Rookie wines can be excellent right out of the bottle, or take several years of aging and conditioning before they really show their stuff, and the aging almost always improves the end result.
  • Some winemakers rely on their own farm system, growing the majority of their own grapes. Others rely on the farm systems of their colleagues. Trades and outright “free agency” purchases are common.
  • Many amateur aficionados think they know almost as much as or ever better than the professionals…and a lot of them have blogs. ;)
  • Both the aficionados and the professional raters rely on often obscure numbers and statistics that are not necessarily what the actual wine makers, being more of a by taste, gut instinct and experience sort, rely on when putting together the finished product.
  • And then, there is the fickle finger of fate thing. Just as really promising rookies may fail to live up to their potential or excellent ballplayers suffer career ending injuries, sometimes nature says “nope, I don’t think so” in the form of a drought, or quite the opposite, or any number of other minor disasters and the grapes just don’t live up to their potential either.

This last bit really speaks to what’s happening in Paso Robles and I would imagine the rest of California’s winery regions this year. California didn’t really have much of a summer in 2011. And, while consistent balmy mid 70’s weather is wonderful for tourism and fantastic fodder for any number of movies, it absolutely sucks for grapes which need hot days and cool breezes at night in order to fully develop the sugars that eventually ferment into the delicious nectar we enjoy. That kind of weather was in short supply this off season, much like free-agent starting pitchers of quality.

And, much like baseball teams with said starting pitchers, wineries tried different things to insure victory, from leaving the grapes on the vines an extra long time, risking catastrophic rain storms, to stripping the leaves off to give the gapes the full benefit of the sun, risking malnourishment and, should the heat wave finally come, scorched grapes. Just as in baseball, some wineries lucked out and some did not (the Angels clearly falling in the former category here). And it’s safe to say that in both worlds a lot of teams/wineries have rebuilding years ahead of them. But here’s the thing about rebuilding years in wine or in baseball that a lot of folks forget. Rebuilding necessities can lead to unexpected levels of creativity and take us in directions we never thought we could go. And, every now and then, this leads to an even better result than anyone could have possibly imagined. I can’t wait to see how the fruits of 2011 and early 2012 work out for everyone, on the field and in my glass. Cheers!

8 Comments

They also make wine making blooper reels!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMS0O3kknvk (I couldn’t resist ;-)
–Jeff

Ha ha ha but ye-ouch! Blooper reels indeed, Jeff. Fortunately a lot of that is done in an actual press these days. No feet. Of couse, you reminded me that, like baseball teams, winemakers also occassionally make hilarious commercials: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sgCveqFf-w

– Kristen

Grape Lady video NEVER gets old :)

Great post Kristen, weaving two passions into one thought.

Thanks Wrigley! Somehow I missed out on the Grape Lady, until now. I learn more funny stuff from MLBlogs.

– Kristen

Before this the only wine I thought was in baseball was the whining Yankee fans do night in night out when things don’t go their way :D
Now that I’ve read this post though I think baseball should make wine the new ‘bubbly’ they use to celebrate titles.

http://bluejaysnest.mlblogs.com/

Hmmm…Your kind of wine-ing sounds pretty good too Bluejaysnest, LOL. As for the rest, I think the clubbies might revolt unless they went with white wine. :)

– Kristen

Love your baseball/wine analogy! Hey can you recomend a white wine for cooking. Usually I put red. Somehow lately i have only purchased red ones but I ran into a couple of recipes I want to try that use white.
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com

Thanks Emma! Sure thing. I usually avoid chardonnay when cooking because, strictly personal preference here, I don’t generally care for them. I like cooking with Spanish white wines a lot. Marques de Caceres Rioja Dry White is priced right for cooking and the leftover wine tastes great in your glass as well. Lately Albarinos are my favorite white wine for drinking and cooking. Trader Joe’s has some good ones. The Epicuro Albarino is definitely priced for cooking and I enjoy it. Depending on the recipe, you might also try a Sauvignon Blanc when you want crispness, a Pinot Grigio when you want earthiness/minerality, or a Viognier if you want more citrus. Trader Joe’s carries Castoro now and they make good white wines. Ditto, Big House and Pacific Rim (both of which used to be part of Bonny Doon) and Trader Joe’s own Reserve Paso Robles line of wines (which are usually made made by Castoro or another wine maker I like.). Hope this helps!

– Kristen

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