Time goes on, but Americans of all ages still loves their baseball. At the same time, we do need to own up to one simple fact: the way we drink alcohol is changing.
So while Budweiser may still reign supreme at your closest MLB ball park, some people who go out to the ball game do choose to drink other beers. And even eat food that isn’t peanuts, Cracker Jack, or hot dogs—not that we don’t love those classic snacks, but we also love variety while we’re munching in the bleachers.
With all that in mind, coupled with the fact that U.S. wine consumption has steadily been on the rise since 2002, the MLB getting into the wine game should be no big surprise to anyone.
Table: Wine Institute
Last Wednesday, the MLB held an exclusive wine tasting at the Fan Cave in downtown Manhattan to celebrate the introduction of its new team-branded wines, according to Fast Company. Seven teams have signed on for the 2014 season: the Giants, Yankees, Mariners, Red Sox, Rangers, Phillies, and Cubs. More teams have expressed interest, and will likely have their own ball club-branded wines available in the future.
Of course, this could just seem like a marketing ploy. A cynical mind could be forgiven for thinking that all these team-branded wines are just capitalizing on the kind of collectors who just want anything that’s branded with their favorite team’s logo, and don’t care about quality. But the good news is, the individual teams are actually choosing the wine blends and wineries that bottle each ball club’s signature branded bottles.
Unsurprisingly, that’s what Wine By Design founder Diane Karle says is the biggest obstacle she’s had to overcome:
FastCo reports that MLB licensed this wine enterprise to a company called Wine By Design. They basically cover all the heavy lifting, from matching up ball clubs with wineries to getting liquor authority board approval for wine labels to setting up distribution.
Some teams have even stayed pretty local with their winery choices: the Yankees stuck with Anthony Road Winery in upstate New York, while the Giants turned to Mumm Napa for their Sparkling Brut. For the Seattle Mariners, the choice of 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition Winery of the Year winner Maryhill Winery seems obvious.
What about ball clubs that aren’t lucky enough to be located in prime winery country? There’s plenty of good wine coming out of California, as any wine enthusiast can tell you. That’s where the Cubs, the Rangers, and the Phillies are all sourcing their blends.
It’s an interesting way to grow, given how closely our society associates beer as the alcoholic beverage of choice with baseball. Since the MLB has an exclusive—and highly lucrative—agreement with Budweiser, so opting for team-branded beers was out of the question.
Fans are eagerly buying into this new offering, too: initial ordering for the seven teams represented was 11,000 cases of wine. However, greater than anticipated demand led to a second order of 14,000 cases, according to FastCo. Bottles range from $25 to $30 apiece, and are currently available online and in local wine shops—though plans are afoot to make them available at Whole Foods and Costco in the future.