As wine consumption continues to fall in the US, the San Francisco Giants baseball team has announced a partnership with Master Sommelier, Evan Goldstein. A lifelong fan of the team, Goldstein is one of just 269 men and women with the MS qualification, and among IntoWine.com’s ‘Top 100 Most Influential People in the U.S. Wine Industry’.
For those outside the US, who are used to sports venues that sell beer and cheap wine, the Giants’ Oracle Park stadium has a history of supporting the premium and super premium end of the local California wine industry. This year, the team has named Twomey Wines and Silver Oak as sponsors. Their Cabernet Sauvignons which retail for $25 and $90 respectively – are available throughout the stadium.
“Delicious wines can be mainstream and accessible, and as happy being alongside a hot dog as a premium steak.”
Goldstein is quoted in the Giants’ press release as saying that “Wine, like baseball, is an experience – it creates and impacts memories and brings people together.” Iconoclastically – for a sommelier – he goes on to say that “Delicious wines can be mainstream and accessible, and as happy being alongside a hot dog as a premium steak.”
His collaboration with the team will go beyond the stadium, however and will include
- Conducting in-person and virtual wine tasting sessions for various Giants customer groups.
- Facilitating wine pairing concepts for Oracle Park and Giants-specific culinary offerings.
- Assisting with the selection of wines featured, introducing fans to a variety of regions and profiles.
- Curating wine-related experiential programs for the Giants community, i.e. wine country field trips, member programming and other wine-related activations.
- Exploring unique wine related programs, partnerships and opportunities.
- Collaborating with current and former Giants players who are both involved in the wine industry and/or have an interest in wine.
From American Football to Soccer
If linking up with a sommelier is original, US sports fans are increasingly used to wine sponsorship. Over 15 NFL – American football – teams have official wine sponsors, ranging from familiar brands like Robert Mondavi Woodbridge – (partnered with the Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants) to the New York Jets’ proprietary Jets Uncorked Championship Reserve, produced by Joe Wagner, creator of Meiomi.
In the UK, the sports-wine link most famously involves the sponsorship by Manchester United by Concha y Toro’s Casillero del Diablo which began in 2010. When it was announced, that high budget partnership raised eyebrows among the British wine trade. Wines is a far less popular beverage in UK sports grounds than beer and the only place to be sure of finding the Chilean wine at the Old Trafford stadium is in the VIP suites. However, industry analysts with a wider perspective understood that the relationship is global, and Asian fans the target for Casillero del Diablo Manchester United claims to have 100m followers in China alone, with many millions more in neighbouring countries. Other European football teams would have similar numbers.
Maybe the next step is for these teams to profitably follow the Giants in hiring sommeliers who’d offer a few words of wine advice before or after a televised match.