There are quite a few parallels between two of my longtime favorite pastimes, wine and baseball. In fact, the analogies between the two fit like a glove.
The wine and baseball seasons each begin in the winter and end in the fall, with baseball club managers pruning rosters in spring training not long after vineyard managers have finished some pruning of their own. Ballplayers who get sheared find themselves back in the farm system.
Spring training—for both vines and ball clubs—brings hope and renewal, a time for growth and development. Every team and vineyard has a chance to shine. Anyone can throw a perfect game, hit .400 or steal a hundred bases. Vineyards offer the promise of something special, a chance for vintners to study past vintages, make adjustments and coax the most from their vines.
With summer comes, ideally, tranquility and a steady rhythm from June into September, a time to realize potential. What storms there are to weather help give each team and vintage its identity.
Fall brings a flourish of excitement, suspense and drama, often with a nerve-wracking climax.
As different grapes and blends thrive in the best-suited appellations, baseball teams benefit from home-field advantages in their own stadiums. Like AVAs, each ballfield has a unique shape and size, climate and "terroir." For both ballparks and vineyards, the subtle nuances take time to understand, appreciate and use to one's maximum benefit.
Baseball and wine aren't perfect mirror images, of course. With baseball, we crown a champion at the end of the season (though almost always celebrate with bubbly). Not so with wine. Harvest gives vintners most of what they need to work with, yet it's another year or two before the winners and runners up are sorted.
Nevertheless, for vintners, the action is in the vineyard—their own field of dreams.