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Will Giants players frequent Sonoma County wineries?

Evan Goldstein has joined the San Francisco Giants’ lineup as the first master sommelier for a professional sports organization. This means we in Sonoma County might see Giants players and fans sipping on some of Goldstein’s field trips to Wine Country. And perhaps more wine clubs like Healdsburg’s Rodney Strong Vineyards will coordinate road trips for their members to see games at San Francisco’s Oracle Park.

“For Northern California residents, wine is a vital part of our lifestyle, and we intend to expose baseball players and fans to a myriad of experiences in the park and outside,” Goldstein wrote in an email while traveling in south Asia.

The master sommelier, who lives in San Francisco, said some of his favorite Sonoma County wineries include Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery, Benovia Winery, Hartford Family Winery, J Vineyards & Winery, Joseph Swan Vineyards, Papapietro Perry Winery, Quivira Vineyards, Mauritson Wines and Davis Family Vineyards.

The Giants, Goldstein said, have had a “wine imprint” dating to April 15, 1977, at Candlestick Park, the team’s home at the time. That’s the day stadium wine service was first introduced to Major League Baseball fans, offering an extensive assortment of world-class wines at games.

“Wine has become part of the mainstream DNA of large events over the years and professional sports,” Goldstein said.

Today Oracle Park, which became the Giants’ home in 2000, has a wine bar on each level, California wine carts along Promenade and View Levels and seven other locations that offer wine on tap.

“Delicious wines can be mainstream and accessible, and as happy being alongside a hot dog as a premium steak,” Goldstein said.

“For the good old all-beef frank, I’m a fan of brown mustard, chopped onions and a little sauerkraut and pairing it with a bright, youthful zinfandel,” he said. “That’s all-American.”

As for a barbecue tri-tip sandwich, Goldstein suggested a rich merlot or a smooth-style syrah. But for those who prefer a tri-tip sandwich with horseradish and more piquant offerings, he said a chilled pinot is the best option.

Goldstein said he’s excited to show Giants players, both current and retired, how to broaden their palates with great food and wine pairings, as well as deepen their wine knowledge.

“Every Giants family member loves baseball, and I would like their enjoyment of wine to be commensurate,” he said.

One of 269 master sommeliers worldwide, Goldstein will mentor others by drawing on his well-educated palate. He passed the prestigious master sommelier exam at age 26, becoming only the eighth American to do so and the youngest ever at the time.

Goldstein is the author of four books: “Five Star Service,” “Perfect Parings,” “Daring Parings” and “Wines of South America.” He began his wine career in the renowned kitchens in Paris and California, and in 1984 he joined his mother, chef and author Joyce Goldstein, in opening the highly touted San Francisco restaurant Square One. Goldstein has been included twice in intowine.com’s “Top 100 Most Influential People in the U.S. wine industry.”

A lifelong Giant’s fan, Goldstein, now 61, remembered going to a game at Candlestick Park with his dad when he was 9.

“I remember eating way too many hot dogs and having a blast cranking the chopped onions and pickle relish out of the dispensers,” he said.

Goldstein recalled sitting at the first-base side, 20 rows back, luckily with no foul balls.

“I know most of my fellow (master sommelier) colleagues pretty well, and I can say confidently that there are none who really know and love baseball and wine as much as I do,” Goldstein said. “And that’s certainly a prerequisite for this undertaking.”

Goldstein said there’s a synergy between baseball and wine that he’s excited to capitalize on it.

“Wine is so much a part of people’s lives today, and it should have a venerable place in all experiences they partake in,” he said. “Wine is experiential for people — memories with friends and family — and so are sports.”

Sandra Johnson of Petaluma said she hopes to partake in more road trips to Giants games like the one she went on in August 2017 with Rodney Strong Vineyards.

“Being at the game was great, all the hooting and hollering,” Johnson said. “The Giants were playing the Arizona Diamonbacks. We took a bus down and I remembering drinking a glass of Rodney Strong chardonnay on the way. Once we got there, our seats looked straight down on the batter.”

Johnson, 77, went to that game with her 52-year-old daughter, Corinne Holecek, and 26-year-old granddaughter, Syndie Johnson. The trio were among roughly 30 other Giants fans from Wine Country on the trip.

“I liked it that there was a room nearby with all the food and wine,” Johnson said. “You could get a hot dog and choose a Rodney Strong wine without standing in a long line. We always like to go to the Giants games, and to go on a road trip like that was just such a great experience.”

You can reach Wine Writer Peg Melnik at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

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