Red Sox Wine for Charity

Popular players team up with wine importers for a good cause.


June 7, 2007 — -- Home runs, knuckle balls and the 2004 World Series banner are what fans love to see each time they watch the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park.

Now the team is bringing something new to the plate for fans to enjoy — wine — and it's all for a good cause.

Players Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield have teamed up with a pair of Massachusetts wine importers to produce three Red Sox-themed wines, which are being sold throughout New England with the profits going to charity.

Alex Graff and John Corcoran began Charity Wines in collaboration with the baseball fundraising group Charity Hop and Major League Baseball to create Longball Vineyards, a venture combining their passions for wine, baseball and philanthropy.

"We had done a lot of charity wine tastings but [were] looking to do something a bit bigger," Graff told ABC News Now.

Wakefield, a 13-year Red Sox veteran, jumped at the chance to join Charity Wines because he wanted to help the fans who had supported him throughout his career.

"I felt like I needed to give something back to the community," he said.

All three players were influential in picking the type of wines that would bear their names, but knuckle-ball pitcher Wakefield ran into a bit of trouble while choosing his vintage.

"We originally envisioned him as doing a sauvignon blanc, and we were going to call it The White Knuckler," Corcoran said.

But Wakefield had his own ideas for the wine whose proceeds will help the New England charity Pitching In for Kids.

"I'm a big fan of cabernets. … So, I threw in CaberKnuckle and it stuck," he said.

The second wine is themed around outfielder Ramirez's on-and-off-the-field antics that are fondly chalked up to "Manny being Manny" by Boston fans. His red wine is appropriately titled Manny Being Merlot and will benefit Charlee Homes for Children, an organization that provides aid to abused and neglected children.

Schilling's wine was given the name Schilling Schardonnay by his wife, Shonda, as a play on their last name. The pitcher will support the couple's program, Curt's Pitch for ALS.

ABC News Now spoke with wine expert Tyler Coleman, aka "Dr. Vino," to see how the wines would shape up on the baseball diamond.

"I decided to rate them single, double, triple or home run," he said.

According to Dr. Vino, all three wines made it safely to scoring position. CaberKnuckle hit a double and is a "very approachable wine." Manny Being Manny is "great for grilled meats out on the deck after the game or during the game," and also made it to second base. The star of this lineup, however, is Schilling's Schardonnay, with a triple.

"It's a great summer wine. Perfect for baseball season and dining outdoors," said Dr. Vino.

Boston fans seem to agree with the ratings and have preordered 264,000 bottles.

"The response was incredible," Corcoran said. "When we were first throwing numbers around, we thought we'd probably do 5,000 cases total, so 60,000 bottles. Maybe, over the course of the summer if we got really lucky, a little bit more than that. The first day we had all the sales reps out taking orders, we sold 6,000 cases in the first three hours."

All three vintages are available at select New England stores, restaurants and hotels. Fans can also enjoy them while watching the wines' namesakes play at Fenway Park.

Because of the positive response, Graff hopes to expand Charity Wines to include other baseball teams, the National Football League and small or private charity organizations in the near future.

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