I’m starting to get used to the idea that baseball games are no longer just about beer, peanuts, hot dogs and, lest I forget, the game itself.
Over the past few seasons, I’ve been sussing out the wine choices that are available and have always found some worthy recommendations. However, probably the most exciting wine venue in professional sports has come to AT&T Park with Vintage 58, a new wine bar located right behind home plate on the promenade level.
Named for the year the Giants moved west (and broke my grandfather’s heart), Vintage 58 serves wines from around the world. Sandie Filipiak, the ballpark’s director of concessions, has made improvements every year, but this is the boldest step yet.
“It’s a restaurant mentality, in my mind,” she says of her vision not only for the latest wine venue, but also for the concessions in general.
Apparently, one woman complained that there were not enough California wines. But for Filipiak, Vintage 58 is meant to mirror the spirit of San Francisco’s wine scene and not only represent Napa, Sonoma and the like.
There are four wines on tap, including the Greenlip sauvignon blanc from New Zealand and Cameron Hughes California Meritage. A single glass (6 ounces) costs $10, and the venue serves double-sized ones for $20. Sparkling wines are a little bit more, $14.50, but if you’re going to pay $9 for a beer, you might as well splurge once in a while for a different form of bubbles. Vintage 58 has three to choose from: Canals Cava, Nino Franco Prosecco and Simonnet-Febvre Cremant de Bourgogne, which is my favorite.
Another highlight for me was the Mulderbosch rosé from South Africa. Made from cabernet sauvignon, it has a little bit of an herbaceous quality, but wine geeks will probably dig it.
For the colder middle innings, you might want to consider a glass of Quattro Mani Barbera from Piedmont, Italy, or Trivento Malbec from Argentina, which is heartier.
Beyond wine, Filipiak has incorporated custom-built wood shelving to give the look of a wine bar you might see elsewhere in The City. All it needs are stools — though I fear that if I were to go to a game with certain friends, I would be left watching in the stands by myself.
The wine bar is perfectly positioned for those who have field-level seats, but anyone can access Vintage 58. Should you not be nearby and want to grab a glass on the fly, there are the Cable Car Wine Bar carts littered throughout the park that include mostly big-name California wines in the popular grape varieties.
If you happen to be lucky enough to sit on Club Level, the Farmer’s Market near section 211 has some good stuff as well. Look for Long Meadow Ranch sauvignon blanc ($11) and Qupe syrah ($11), which are both bright, fruity, straight-forward and very pleasant.
Baseball is mostly about the game, but the entire experience has changed, and I think the time has come for me to move right along with it. So perhaps I’ll ditch my usual Sierra Nevada for a glass of wine next time I head out to the ballpark.
Pamela S. Busch is a wine writer and educator who has owned several wine bars in San Francisco, including Hayes and Vine and CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen.