Upcoming Events


Tom and Carol Caught at a Tigers Game

Tom and Carol Hinkle visit with John Kirkgard on July 1st in Oakland at a Tigers game. Here Tom is "caught" with Jim Leyland the game catcher.

Thanks for a great day my friends!!!!

John D. Kirkgard


The Amateur Draft

Greetings Baseball and Wine Enthusiasts -
The amateur draft is less than a month away. Many questions come up at this time from players, parents and scouts. With over 28 years of Major League Scouting I have fielded many questions. Today I am going to speak to those most frequently asked.
WHERE AM I GOING TO BE DRAFTED AND WHAT ROUND? That seems to be the #1 issue. From a scouts stand point, we don't always know what other talent is outside our area and around the country. A club only has a 1 in 30 chance of drafting a player...so it is often quite difficult to determine what round you will be drafted in. IS IT BETTER TO SIGN NOW OR GO TO COLLEGE? The percentage of all signed players who play in the Major Leagues is 6-7%. The percentage of all High School signed players in the M.L. is 10-11%. The majority of All-Star position players are High School signs, whereas the majority of All-Star pitchers are college signs. WHAT IS BETTER, HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE? The only "winning" answer is simply that it is up to the player and his family!
A little story for you: I drafted a H.S. shortstop in the 10th round and his Agent (advisor) told him he was going to be drafted in the 5th round. On Draft Day the family was quite disappointed. I made a very fair offer to the player (no names mentioned!) and his family and they turned it down. The player got 5 times less just a year later. "Moneyball" said it was bad to draft H.S. players in the 1st round - when I was with the Toronto Blue Jays we were 5 for 5 drafting H.S. players who played in the Big Leagues and were 1st rounders and 4 of the 5 made an All-Star team. That just goes to show that "Moneyball" is a good read but not entirely practical. Scouting is not an exact science like the "Moneyball" disciples try to make out. In a 10 year period the Blue Jays were in the playoffs 5 times and won the World Series in 1992 and 1993 with the second rated Farm System next to the Dodgers (producing 64 major leaguers in a ten year period)....just goes to show what good scouting fundamentals and professionalism can do in spite of looking only at the stats!
Back on the farm and in the winery it is time to work the wines and get some serious planning done in the vineyard. In the vineyard we go through the vines four different times. The 1st time is suckering and shoot thinning on each vine (we have 22,000 here at RIO SECO!)...The 2nd time we go through and train the 1st and 2nd year plants. Third time we go through the vineyard and shoot thin again. The fourth time through the vineyard we leaf pull around the grape bunches and drop fruit. As harvest approaches we will test each block for sugar content of the juice so we can determine when to harvest.
This harvest season late August through October we will offer to have people stay in our guesthouse so they can work (and vacation) the "harvest season" with us...Learning the fundamentals of wine-making and talking a few baseball stories will be a great memory for sure! Until next time,
From the Club House to the Barrel Room...
Tom Hinkle


Interesting Facts from a Scout's Point of View

Spring Training is over and we are getting into another exciting season of wine and baseball! Here are some interesting facts for the fans from a scout's point of view....
Sometimes better teams have slow starts - Reasons include players are not always in shape, clubs are dealing with injuries and they face the challenges of trying to integrate a number of new personnel on the team such as rookies and 6-year free agents that were signed in the off season. Most clubs think of a regular season in THIRDS - the first part of the season is getting the rookies acclimated to the big leagues along with any new members and or position changes...the second part of the season the club starts playing together as a team, making adjustments and working toward any Major League trades by July 31st. The last third of the season the teams are playing up to 100%. By this time in the season the fans always seem to be interested and ask about winning streaks. Winning streaks are determined by how the team is playing and the quality of the opponents they play - In reverse, a losing streak is caused by a team playing poorly and the opponents happen to be the top teams. How do you determine if a team is playing well?...Pitchers performances and team hitting are the key. Losing streaks are not caused by defensive play but by poor pitching or hitting. Players play best in the last 60 games of the season. In the playoffs teams rise to the occasion and play well down the stretch. Many division titles are lost, however, in the first 1/3 of the season - so, it all remains to be seen how the '09 season will fare - we'll keep good thoughts that your favorite teams will make it to the playoffs!
Speaking of winning streaks, the RIO SECO wines have been quietly making a solid impression on our fans and the public in general. All estate grown, we nurture the grapes in the field the same way as a top minor league farm system nurtures their players before getting them to the Big Leagues - good wines are made in the field - we go through the vineyard five different times before picking at optimum sugars and pHs at harvest - first with pruning, 2nd suckering, 3rd shoot thinning, 4th shoot thinning again, and 5th dropping fruit. At RIO SECO we grow 8 different varietals each with distinct characteristics and demands, much like different position players on a team. Each one with their own needs, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot, Petite Sirah, and white wines, Viognier and Roussanne keep us aiming for an All-Star line up of wines! Look for our new releases this season, '05"Clubhouse Red" - a "minor league" blend that is easy to like; "Grand Slam" - a AAA blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah - great with BBQ's and our trophy wine, the '04 MVP - a major league blend for sure, Cab, Cab Franc and Merlot!
Hope your season is off to a great start!
From the Clubhouse to the Barrel Room, TOM


Time to step up to the plate!

It's time to step up to the plate!...Hello Baseball and Wine Superfans! Welcome to my blog! This is dedicated to talking about two things that I know and love best in life, baseball and wine! Hoping to give you the inside scoop as the season progresses ON the field and IN the vineyard.

My life-long association with baseball started in 1954 when my Little League team from Colton, CA. played before 10,000 fans as they made it to the finals of the Little Leage World Series in Williamsport, PA. Came in 2nd but it will always be a highlight growing up of what goals and teamwork can accomplish. I went on to be a 2nd team All-American catcher playing for Hall of Fame college coach, John Scolinos at Cal Poly, Pomona. In 1963 I signed to play minor league baseball with the Detroit Tiger organization, playing in all its glory in '63,'64, and '65 with such great names as Andy Kosko, Mickey Stanley, Willie Horton, Jim Northrup, and now RIO SECO wine club member, pitcher Darryl Patterson. As my playing days were coming to a close, I took the next step and in 1966 went into Junior College coaching at Mount San Antonio College in Pomona, CA. and started part-time scouting with the Cincinnati Reds and the old Washington Senators. I went on from there to coach at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo as the pitching coach and the assistant in charge of recruiting. Found a scrappy young player with incredible talent named Ozzie Smith, recruited him to come play at Cal Poly, and the rest as they say is history! All in all we had 41 drafted players and 4 ML players in eight years - quite a decent record. 1981 was the start of my full time scouting adventure, 28 years total on the road in search of baseball talent - area scout, regional cross checker, and major league scout were some of my title with six different clubs: Padres, Cubs, Expos, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers and the 1992 and 1993 World Champion Toronto Blue Jays...What a great road trip with many good times all those years! Along the way I did find a love of farming...has something to do with being in the dirt, I guess. Now, along this next season of life, I am finding many similarities from baseball to winemaking - as any championship team knows, it starts with the talent...like wise, in winemaking, it starts with excellent farming and exceptional grapes.

In 1996, my wife, Carol, and I bought a 64 acre, old ranch in Paso Robles, CA. which happened to be the fastest growing wine region in the good old USA. We planted 30 acres of grapes including Zinfandel, Cab, Cab Franc, Syrah, Merlot and Viognier...taking the next step we moved forward to establish a family winery, working with consulting winemaker, the notorious John Munch (LeCuvier, Paso Robles, CA.) As I was a coachable student, I learned a lot from the Munch man! We took it then a step further and opened our tasting room here at RIO SECO on Superbowl Sunday Y2K...This is now the "family business" - we include our kids, nephews & nieces, sisters and brothers-in-law and friends, along with any and all who will get their hands a little dirty and share the passion with us!

Hope you will stop by sometime - we are here 7 days a week living the life of "fine wines, friendly people" - we can go over the hitters and have a glass of RIO SECO wine! More to come....

From the Clubhouse to the Barrel Room,

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