How often do you enjoy wine?
I’ll have it four [or] five times a week. During the season, it’s sort of a fun thing we have. I tell the players, “I only drink wine when we win.” We play 162 games. It’s a pretty done deal you’re going to lose about 60 for sure, depending on the year. You play .500, you’re going to lose 81 games. That’s a lot of days without wine, so I tell the players, “I want wine tonight.”
Is that their motivation?
Pablo [Sandoval, former Giants third baseman] would have fun with it: “Skipper gets to drink wine tonight, because we’re going to win.”
How did you get interested in wine?
One of the greatest perks I have with managing here in San Francisco is we have a lot of season ticket holders from Napa. So sometimes, they drop off wine in the front office and it finds its way down to my office, or they send it to me. The staff and I will open up a bottle of wine, or more than one, and enjoy a nice glass of wine after a game.
Was it something you were conscious of when you were thinking of taking the job?
Not at all. I did take a trip to Napa the year before. I took a day off when we were playing the Giants [while managing for] San Diego. I started drinking a little bit more wine, and it was starting to stir my interest. That first year here, I made a couple more trips to Napa and Sonoma. We had a couple events, they’d always have wine there, so I got more and more interested in it.
I’ve developed some friendships. Rob Davis [winemaker at Jordan Winery] and Daniel Baron [winemaker at Silver Oak], these are friends of mine who have taught me a lot. Jeff Smith at Hourglass is really a fun guy. I love Switchback, one of my favorites, and they’re right beside Hourglass. But my go-to place is Jordan. I love to fish, they have a little pond there, a bass boat, the French chateau look, just a beautiful venue. So if I want to get away and have a couple nice, quiet days, that’s where I go.
“There’s a great correlation with our success and success of the grapes. I buy the even years. “
Sounds like you’re more Cab-driven than Pinot?
Yeah, I’d say Cab is still my go-to, my favorite, but I’ve been drinking more Pinot. It’s a little easier to drink with what I’m eating, and there are some great Pinots out there. Rochioli, they make a great one, and Williams Selyem, I’ve been there, and I have a lot of those wines in my office. I like trying different wines. Merlot, Petite Sirah—I’m open. I enjoy whites, too.
Are players getting broader in their views of food and wine?
Yeah. We have guys that bring their own wine on the plane. After the game, I have a 10-minute period where I have to do a post-game interview, talk about the game, that’s when a lot of them sneak into my office and take my wine. I’m missing a lot of wine during the season. If I want to start saving some, then I put them in my locker, a door that I can lock up, but I don’t. I want them to enjoy.
Do you keep much of a cellar at home?
I had a cellar built. It holds 750 bottles. It’s more than full. When we won the World Series, the wineries made me specialized bottles, big bottles, magnums. Caymus made me a beautiful 9-liter bottle as congratulations. Trefethen, Roar, Hourglass. I must have 20 of those bottles on display. The even years, I stick to those, the 2010, 12s, they were good wines.
Good years for you, too.
Yeah, good years for us. There’s a great correlation with our success and success of the grapes. I buy the even years.