The baseball season is finally upon us meaning that spring has arrived - even with the DC area forecasting mornings in the 20s and 30s - and I can shift from trying to convince people that drinking wine is appropriate while watching football to trying to convince people that drinking wine is appropriate while watching baseball. As a chronic Cubs fan, anything other than Anheuser Busch products is actually acceptable during baseball games, but I digress.
In looking towards this season - another long slog for the Cubs and one of exceedingly high expectations for my adopted team, the Nats - I got to thinking that the wine industry in Virginia is much like baseball in general and the Cubs in particular.
Stay with me now...
Generally, baseball, like winemaking, has certain benchmarks throughout the year. With the former, there is the winter hot stove trades, pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, the start of Spring Training games where the quality of the team is assessed and then, ultimately, Opening Day when all of the past months' hard work, determination and prognostications have to start playing out for a demanding audience.
With winemaking, there is bud-break leading to the development of the grapes leading to harvest leading to crush leading to the wine actually being made and then, ultimately, to the wine being released hen all of the past months' hard work, determination and prognostications have to start playing out for a demanding audience.
The Virginia wine industry is much more like the Cubs in particular. Both had brushes of success early on before a rapid descent into a long-lasting spiral of failure, frustration and futility despite the talent surrounding both. In the Cubs' case, how can you not win a World Series with Greg Maddox, Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg and Mark Grace in 1989 or with Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Fergie Jenkins in 1969? For Virginia wine, how could it not be a success when you have Thomas Jefferson - the polymath Renaissance Man who wrote the Declaration of Independence - as your champion?
In both instances, the obstacles for success were too great, even for the talent and effort both the Cubs and Virginia wine put forth throughout the centuries.
With a new season under way, the Cubs, as well as a team made up of Virginia winemakers, stand about the same chance of winning the World Series this year. That said, the great thing about baseball, and wine, is that there is always that hope for a better year, a better outcome and continued success.
For the Cubs, that is still a few years off. For Virginia wine, all those years and centuries of Thomas Jefferson and his supporters imploring people to "wait 'till next year" have started to pay off in Virginia - and the wine press, wine-drinking public and the industry as a whole are all starting to take notice.
For the Cubs, there's still always next year, though I will celebrate their perfect 1-0 record while it lasts.