Thank you to our friend, Elizabeth Smith, for giving us an opportunity to guest blog about our new venture, Hardball Cellars, an idea in the making over the last four years. Hardball Cellars is a new family business with a passion for baseball, business, and wine, thanks to encouragement from friends and family.
My family has a long history of winemaking, with my parents and my grandparents making wine as far back as I can remember. My grandmother, Alberta Gearin, would always have a crock pot of something brewing whenever we visited. My parents tell me she made the most incredible dandelion wine, along with anything else she could get her hands on, including fresh Oregon blackberries and even cabbage.
My grandfather, Dewey Gearin, was a famous inventor who patented a compact folding trailer as well as a signal guard for automobiles. He is most famous for the old gas station signal you would run over to alert the attendants a car had pulled in for servicing. He was always eager to drink Grandma’s fixings, and probably got involved in building her winemaking production setup.
My mother and father followed in her footsteps, making blackberry, pear, and plum wine, as well as root beer with my brothers and sisters. We could never wait long enough to let the root beer finish making before we would drink it up! My dad to this day still loves to play around with fermenting the fruits on his farm in Oregon.
I’ve had a long curiosity and passion for winemaking, which grew when I moved to Napa, California more than 25 years ago. Spotting an ad in the Napa Register for some u-pick Zinfandel fruit on Glass Mountain Road, in Saint Helena, I grabbed my garbage cans, and took my two children along for the ride to the vineyard. The owner was a real nice old guy who loved kids and sent us out into the vineyard to harvest the fruit in our garbage can fermenters. He then de-stemmed our fruit back into our fermenters and off we went! I remember like it was yesterday the smell of new wine in the air in my garage, and after many batches in my five-gallon carboys over the years, I knew one day, we would have our own wine.
As our kids grew and we traveled around the country for dance competitions with our daughter and baseball trips with our son, we experienced many wine tasting adventures between events and games wherever we traveled. Baseball and wine soon became one of our favorite pairings. Besides living in the Napa Valley, we experienced collegiate summer baseball in the Hamptons paired with Wölffer Estate Chardonnay, college games over the years paired with the wines of the central coast between Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara, and summer baseball in the Northwest paired with the wines from Oregon and Washington.
Our kids graduated from college, Jason completed his baseball career upon graduating college after injuring his throwing elbow, so my wife Cindy and I decided we would like to take our passion for wine and baseball to the next level. Along came our friend and mentor, Cindy Cosco, whom I had met through social media circles several years ago, and has become a close family friend. After many conversations with Cindy about winemaking over the years, I mentioned to her that if she ever came across any fruit I might be able to buy to make a barrel of wine, to please let me know. One day I received a call from Cindy saying that if I was ready, she found some fruit! So I said let’s do it, and so began our journey! One day as we were preparing for bottling, Cindy said to me that all I needed was a name, so we began brainstorming names. One day while I was driving in my car, Hardball Cellars just popped in my head and I knew that was our new name, as it represents exactly who we are, and what we have a serious passion for: baseball, business, and wine!
We are now a fully bonded winery as of July 2013, and we are now producing our wines at Dogpatch WineWorks at 2455 3rd Street, San Francisco CA 94107. Plans are in place to join the Dogpatch WineWorks tasting room in the near future.
Our vision for Hardball Cellars is to locate high quality fruit and to make bold, rich handcrafted wines, with complex aroma and flavor profiles. We are very excited about our results and we feel with that we will continue to make high-quality wines to share with those who love food and wine!
We want to thank our friends and family who have been supportive and encouraging as we have moved forward to bring Hardball Cellars to life! We hope you will join us as we continue to grow and develop our new business, as well as actively help spread the word about Hardball Cellars. We truly appreciate your support and want to bring you along our journey with us as we grow. We invite you to connect with us online and on Facebook. Cheers!