Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Oakland Athletics create best sports stadium wine list ever

UPDATE: Bad news folks, the wine stand described below is gone.

Food at the Oakland Coliseum is dreadful, and sewage overflows into the A's locker room when it rains. It is not a posh place.

But somebody has decided to take wine seriously, and right now the A's have better wines by the glass, er, plastic cup, than 90% of the restaurants in America.

The new wine stand is in the West Side Club, near a new stand selling decent brick oven pizza and microbrews. Other stadiums have good wines by the bottle in their private boxes, but this is Oakland -- the West Side Club is open to everyone, and you can take your cup of Chateau Montelena Cabernet to your seat in the right-field bleachers.

Here's a partial list of what was available at Saturday's game vs. Seattle. Forgive me for not having all the details on vintages and appellations; I was copying off a board onto the back of my ticket.

$12 cups:
St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc
King Estate Pinot Gris
Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay
Pavi Napa Valley Pinot Grigio 2012
Groth Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel
Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufino Reserva 2009
Alexander Valley Vineyards Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Pavi Napa Valley Dolcetto 2008
Mi Sueno Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2009
Lehrer Family Vineyards Round Two Contra Costa County Syrah 2007

$18 cups:
Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2012
Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon
Hess Collection 19 Block Cuvée Meritage

That's awesome: some interesting small-lot wines, a few well-known names. A variety of styles, and  not just one big company's portfolio. Let's go Oakland!

We had pepperoni pizzas ($11, a little undercooked, but very decent for ballpark food) and a glass of the Pavi Dolcetto and the Lehrer Syrah. Wow. I have never, ever, drunk better at a baseball game. The Dolcetto was fine with the pizza, as expected. The Syrah wasn't a great pizza pairing but it was a very good wine, complex and restrained, with savory notes and plenty of fruit.

A few years ago I interviewed the head of wine acquisition for the San Francisco Giants, and she said the Giants had to buy the same wines for an entire season, which is why their list is entirely made up of big-production wines you can find in supermarkets.

Clearly the A's aren't currently operating under this principle. And that's great, because we're in the Bay Area, and there are so many small wineries like Pavi and Lehrer that would be happy to have their wines in the Coliseum. All it takes is somebody at the stadium with enough confidence in their palate to make wine buying more than a once-a-year thing.

It's staggering that this has happened in Oakland, where the food is terrible even by stadium standards (the only remotely good things are the new pizzas, Saag's Italian sausage and the French dip sandwich in the West Side Club.)

I don't know how long it will last; if fans don't support it, maybe we'll be back to Ravenswood California Zinfandel by midseason. And I'm sorry to report I didn't see anyone else buying wine at this stand. Get out to Oakland Coliseum, wine and baseball lovers. (You might want to bring a sandwich.)

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W. Blake Gray said...

Confidential to the winery trying to sell its products in my comments section:

1) Nope, not gonna allow that.

2) There is no such thing as a "100-point winemaker." So far as I know, even Robert Parker doesn't yet rate people.

Dan Fishman said...

Nice find, Blake. I hope people support this!