September 13th – “Share your roots”. That is the motto and the principle on which the Rock’n Ball Wines project is based: it’s all about conveying one’s traditions and origins through a glass of wine. And doing just that are two prominent figures in the worlds of sport and music who, through the characteristics of a wine selected with the assistance of a team of experts in the region of origin of their families, tell us about their cultural roots.
Rock’n Ball Wines springs from an idea of former Major League baseball player Jason Grilli and of Italian Massimiliano Geri who, united by their passion for this sport and strong friendship, developed further the desire to return to his roots expressed by Grilli.
This is also a project that involves selection, study and research,» Jason and Massimiliano explain, «which involves not only our palates but avails itself of a team of experts in the wine sector. It is they who will be responsible for selecting the indigenous variety and the vineyard that can give expression not only to the story of the personality in question, but which also come close to their character traits.
Apart from the chance to link people with their history, there is also a social aspect involved: a necessary condition for taking part is that each wine supports a charitable project chosen by the personality.
The social value of the project and the passion that lies behind are “written” on the labels, which result from a design that has a double symbolism, in which the person’s name in capital letters stands side by side with the two great loves of the project’s founders: music and sport.
«Not even the tiny detail of the apostrophe of Rock’n Ball is banal» say the creators. «In fact, every single element has this double role: a guitar pick cut as a semicircle, like a little cup that can hold a ball, which symbolizes all sports. This dual symbolism is also to be found in the six lines, which represent the strings of a guitar. Instead of a sounding board, it has a raised spherical part, which recalls the sports accessory».
The project has started off with its first collection (from the 2019 vintage), made up of two wines bearing respectively the names of Jason Grilli and Francisco Cervelli. Jason, whose family was originally from Lazio, felt himself represented by a fine wine like Cesanese del Piglio D.O.C.G., which reflects the lively, dynamic personality he has always demonstrated, both on the diamond and in life in general.
Francisco, former catcher of the Pittsburgh Pirates and winner of the 2009 World Series with the New York Yankees, rediscovered his background in a Negroamaro del Salento I.G.P., which recalls the roots of his father and grandfather, who were born in Puglia, more precisely in Bitonto, in the Province of Bari: a wine that is famous for its intense color and persistent taste, in which Francisco recognized his forthright and eclectic character.
«Baseball, which was at the start of the whole project, is a simulation of life,» Geri says. «It teaches you to face up to your failings: if you hit 3 pitches out of 10, you’re a phenomenon, but it also means that in 7 attempts you failed. What counts – the thing that makes you obtain success – is determination. “It ain’t over till it’s over”, as Yogi Berra used to say. Till the very last pitch, the game can go either way. Music, on the other hand, is a passion we have in common and acts as a background for all the important times in our lives».
That is, then, how the motto “Share Your Roots” can be interpreted as a formula in which the common denominator is emotion and excitement: that of a sporting achievement, but also that of succeeding in making a high-quality wine.
I want to share the experience of the fine wines from various regions of Italy,» Grilli concludes, «also with other sportsmen and musicians of Italian origin, raising a glass to the great team we could all make together. We hope that lots of people will want to be part of this project and share their wines with their families, friends and fans.
A Brief C.V. of Geri and Grilli
Massimiliano, born in Livorno, a city on the Tuscan coast, threw his first strike at the age of six; today he is one of the founders and President of the Italian Baseball Softball Players Association (IBSPA), the first federation in Italy for players of baseball, softball, and baseball for the blind and visually impaired, together with Jason, former All-Star Major League baseball player born in Royal Oak (Michigan), but with Italian blood coursing through his veins: the Grilli family originated in Lazio. More precisely, Jason’s grandparents and great-grandparents came from Ferentino, a town in the valley of the River Sacco, in the Province of Frosinone.