I didn't know what to expect upon first meeting Hardly Walleyes, Social Media Director for Murphy-Goode Wines, but I certainly didn't expect flowers. It's not like I'm a bigshot blogger feigning humility or anything. And it's not like I expect something for free, like wine samples, airline tickets, front row seats for my favorite concerts (oooh, I hear the Captain and Tennille are making a comeback) or unmarked bills sent directly to me at Vinography: The Wine Shill, 1313 Puffpiece Lane, SF. (Let's say I did get some free stuff, I certainly always put a Full Disclosure statement at the end of each post, which is more than any of those New Jersey rabbis did at the end of their Saturday services.) But the flowers were a nice touch. And to think Hardly had gone all the way to the Healdsburg Cemetery to get them just for me!
It's hard to imagine any of you reading this don't know, but Hardly Walleyes was the lucky winner of the Murphy-Goode Social Media Position. Murphy-Goode's original idea was to pay a person $1000 for every point of their IQ over the course of the six months that blogger/tweeter/podcaster/poseur worked for the winery, up to $120,000. The stumbling economy forced them to set their sites a bit lower and when Hardly scored a dazzling 60 on the IQ exam, it was a win-win situation. After spending an afternoon with him at the personal request of Jess (call me Huckleberry) Jackson, tasting the wines and helping him tie his shoes, I can say that I believe they made the right call. Hardly Walleyes is Murphy-Goode wines. And I wouldn't be surprised if he stays on after his six months have gone by. The little guy makes the perfect pet. Jess and the Murphy-Goode gang livin' the lifestyle! A Vinography Image
Hardly comes from our own wine blogosphere having written a never-nominated wine blog called dirtymouthwine for the past several years. Like so many of our finest wine bloggers, Hardly makes no claim to having a wide knowledge of wine, and it shows in his posts. I find it refreshing in this day and age of so-called "experts" that a person with so few qualifications can successfully make a name for himself in the wine business. I know how hard that is. And I was flattered that Hardly confided that he looked up to me as a role model in that regard. He told me that as I was positioning the flowers on an old fence rail in front of a vineyard at sundown for one of my patented Vinography Images that proves how sensitive I am. (I'll be posting that image the day after tomorrow, right after my scathing commentary on the great Rieslings of Oregon--a hint, only 24 of the 28 scored 9 or higher!)
Hardly's experience as a marginally talented wine blogger will serve him well in his new capacity. Casting an uncritical eye on the wines of Murphy-Goode is exactly what Huckleberry was hoping for, and it's hard to imagine even a dozen more IQ points would have changed that, but here is Hardly Walleyes hard at work writing and tweeting and blogging about the Sonoma County lifestyle. Oh, it's a big adjustment moving to the sleepy little town of Healdsburg after the bright lights of Atlanta, the town Sherman should have burned. But Hardly is nothing if not resourceful and he's filled his new digs with things to remind him of home--little no-skid flowers on the shower floor, Flintstones vitamins in the cupboard and all of his Jonas Brothers posters! In just a few days Hardly has made Healdsburg his home, and Healdsburg is better off for it.
Hardly and I strolled over to the tasting room in Healdsburg so I could sample the fine wines of Murphy-Goode with Walleyes as my guide. We got a little lost, but Windsor is lovely this time of year, I took another trademark Vinography Image of the Windsor Square, so captivatingly abandoned as always. When we finally arrived at the tasting room and I'd helped little Hardly zip up, the wonderful Murphy-Goode hospitality team had more flowers waiting for me, and a new Prius, which was thoughtful, and oh so Sonoma. But it was the fantastic wines that I had come for. These fine Sonoma County wines sourced from so many different vineyards are such a treat to taste, and so easy to write about with none of those long and bothersome single vineyard names all over them from appellations I think are so confusing. The Murphy-Goode wines are simple, like the great Hardly Walleyes, the little guy all wrapped up in Tweeting and Blogging and Facebooking and the Jonas Brothers, but give them a chance and they'll make great pets.
Full Disclosure: No animals were hurt in the making of this post.
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
What the Critics Are Saying About HoseMaster of Wine
"If you want a great hoot and howl moment or two...go read the HoseMaster's year-end reflections...that guy is without a doubt the funniest SOB in the blog-world...and thank him for having the brains and balls to target his laser of laughter on anybody...HoseMaster for President...HoseMaster for Blogger of the Year...although he would be the first to say the bar is so damn low for that award, he should win it every year..." --Robert Parker
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity."
"Please let this guy write the scripts for Saturday Night Live which has gotten so lame...his newest "wisdom" is worth an Emmy....I wonder if he is the genius behind all those Hitler/Parker,etc. clips? No one else is remotely as funny or as talented.And the wine world sure needs someone to poke fun at all the nonsense and phoney/baloney unsufferable crap out there."
"Washam uses his own blog, HoseMaster of Wine, to skewer the industry in general and wine blogs in particular. If your mouse scoots to your browser's close box while reading a wine blog, Washam may be the blogger for you."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"...that guy Hosemaster has real talent...if you ask me sign him up for Comedy Central...he's the funniest guy since Adam Carolla's hilarious book...IN 50 YEARS WE WILL ALL BE CHICKS..."
"Ron Washam, former sommelier, is easily the most bitingly funny blogger/wine writer that we have ever come across. He is an equal opportunity crusader who pillories big wineries and amateur bloggers alike, as well as everything and everyone in between...One needs a sense of humor and a tolerance for earthiness to enjoy reading The Hosemaster. We must have both because this guy deserves a wider audience, in our humble opinion." --Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
"In my opinion, and that of many others, his blog is one of the best. And in terms of satirical or parodic wine blogs, it has no peer. Ron’s alert eye catches every pretense and skewers it with laugh out loud mercilessness."
"This site should carry a warning label. It's sort of a Dave Barry/George Carlin approach to wine. The Hosemaster (real name Ron Washam) skewers fellow bloggers and industry savants with glee, while offering hilarious wine guides such as his Honest Guide to Grapes..."
--Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times
"Washam is a skilled wine judge (I have judged with him) who is willing to judge wine double blind, in public. To my knowledge, Parker does not do this and never has. So Ron's credentials are in place, and so is his sense of the absurd."
--Dan Berger, VintageExperiences
"...I consider Ron a very talented writer and I’ve long been an admirer of his scathing wit..."
"And if any free sites think they can conquer the world, there’s always the Hosemaster to take ‘em down a notch."
--Tyler Colman "Dr. Vino"
"Those of you who know Ron either love or hate him, because he throws jabs like a punch drunk boxer, and we’re all in the firing line. He’ll throw them if he hates you, and he’ll throw them if he loves you. He’s a satirist of exceptional quality."
--Jo Diaz "Juicy Tales by Jo Diaz"
"I must say you are an idiot. I've never liked you. I have no idea why people find you funny."