Dusty Baker's Wine Business Keeps Him Busy

SACRAMENTO — “Be right back,” Dusty Baker said on a chilly, recent Saturday morning at his home here. The veteran manager had made some final cuts earlier in the week and now it was time to pick up the pieces. When he returned, he did not have a lineup card in hand, nor was a general manager nearby. Instead, he came roaring down a path at the wheel of his trusty Kawasaki Mule, a small all-terrain vehicle. The cuts had come while pruning grape vines. A lockout may be pausing the business of Major League Baseball, but Baker, 72, is still managing. His small vineyard and Baker Family Wines business require more attention to detail than even the highest-maintenance of sluggers. And, just as he’s learned certain hitting and managing tactics over his 50-some odd years in professional baseball, so, too, has he learned outside the dugout. He pauses between scooping piles of clippings onto the back of the Mule for dumping elsewhere to explain how the north side of a particular vine is cut shorter than the south side, so the grapes can soak up the morning sun. The south side is allowed more growth to shield the fruit from the afternoon sun, which, in the summertime here, becomes far too intense.