Obnoxious Boston Fan

2012 Red Sox Wine Could Help Fans Cope With 2014

Red Sox drink up

Red Sox wine 2012 vintage.

You might imagine a description like this:

A mix of Carl Crawford tears, Adrian Gonzalez apathy and Bobby Valentine sunflower seeds blended with the bile created by all those players who blew off Johnny Pesky’s funeral. This bitter harvest yielded the worst season since 1965 but also planted the seeds for the 2013 worst-to-first championship.

All made with the grapes of wrath.

The 2012-vintage Red Sox wine is very real and for sale at a website near you.

But any wine with a Red Sox label on it, especially from 2012, must taste like 18-month old Juicy Juice.


No way, says Diane Karle. She’s the founder of a Napa Valley-based company called “Wine By Design.” It manages the production and marketing process of all the official wines sold by the MLB’s teams, including the vintages being offered by the Red Sox..

Currently, there are three wines for sale with the blessing of the Red Sox.

A 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon:

Harvested from grapes grown in the mild climate of Alexander Valley, producing flavors of rich chocolate with layers of dark cherries. Aged in French & American oak for 15 months adding layers of tannin & vanilla for complexity

A 2012 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay:

An extended growing season in 2012 lends to deep, rich flavors with apple and citrus qualities in the nose and mouth.

A 2013 World Series Championship Brut:

Aromas of pear and Granny Smith apple with a hint of rose petal wrapped in brioche.

Nectar of the gods for sure. Nothing about beards, though.

The descriptions alone make the wine worth the price – which starts at $24.99 for a single bottle of the Brut.

That extended growing season in 2012 stands in stark contrast to the baseball season that year, which officially ended for the Red Sox with their elimination on Sept. 16.

These MLB-licensed wines exist because there is a growing market for wine consumption at sporting events, Karle says. There’s also the fact that MLB has an iron-clad licensing agreement with Budweiser which prohibits any team-endorsed mass marketing of beer.

Karle left a nice gig working at sports marketing behemoth IMG and eventually started her own company in 2007. Wine by Design handles such tasks as finding the right winemaker to marketing and promoting the specific labels in each market.

The New York Jets were Wine by Design’s first client in 2010. The company has since become MLB’s original wine licensee. Selling bottles of wine with the team labels wasn’t necessarily easy at first, especially when you’re trying to convince people like me (although I don't drink) that the wine is supposed to taste good.

“We had everyone anticipating it was going to be bad. People thought our wines were a gimmick,” she says. “We want people to be excited about what’s in the bottle. We wanted to create a premium wine for the fans.”

Karle said the Jets told her company that there were 5.6 million adult Jets fans in the New York metro area back in 2010 and that 3.6 million considered themselves wine drinkers.

The others had probably already moved on to hard liquor, weed and prescription pain-killers. Or maybe not.

In any (wine) case, there was a large market of sports fans waiting quality wine at games and while watching games at home. Karle’s company wants to serve them all.

Drinking Red Sox wine with a 2012 vintage during the 2014 season seems a bit precarious. Just add hemlock given the current state of affairs. This year’s team was eliminated from postseason play on Sept. 10. The OBF Research Bureau finds this was Boston’s earliest exit from playoff contention since 1966. (Twice the team was mathematically eliminated on the 11th.)

Karle does not believe the team’s performance on the field affects the taste of a particular vintage.

“We can’t say. We like to say our wine is there to get fans through the good times and the bad. You should be raising a glass to keep the momentum for the team. You can open up a bottle of wine in good times and in bad. We need to make sure the quality remains the same for both occasions.”

The flavors for each team’s particular wines are developed using a variety of sources, Karle said, but are primarily based upon market research and input from the teams and fans about what types of wine that wine drinkers in their market primarily prefer.

“There’s lots of conversation,” she says.

Can we expect anything with Bay State cranberries?

“We could see what we can do,” she adds.

The vineyards that brought us this Red Sox wine were largely unaffected by the recent earthquake that struck Napa Valley. “Our guys had some damage but nothing tremendous. There were people who lost a lot, but knock on wood, ours are fine, thankfully,” she says.

This is the second season of Wine by Design’s association with MLB. The company is working to get the Red Sox-label wine into liquor retailers throughout New England. It's also hosted multiple wine-tasting parties and has several planned for the Boston area.

A “Match.Com”-sponsored event at Boston's Revere Hotel in the Back Bay is scheduled to be held in conjunction with the Red Sox-Yankees game on Sept. 28.

Free wine, lovelorn fans and the last-place Red Sox 20-something games out of first place facing the Yankees?

A recipe for magic if there ever was one.

The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Bill has written and reported for ESPN, CBSSports.Com and was a sports/deputy sports editor at several metro daily newspapers. Reach Bill on the OFB Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
OBF email Address
. Thanks always for reading.

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