When you travel to wine country, any wine country, it can be daunting. So many wineries to choose from, so many tasting rooms to visit, so many activities, what is a first-time tourist to do? If you're in the business--and I don't mean you, wine bloggers, you're not in the business, you're like waiters who think they're actors, you're not any more in the wine business than your server in Hollywood is close to a career in movies from acting in an Equity Waiver production of "Equus" where he wears the horse's head over his face and takes it from Harry Potter up the backstretch--you know which wineries to visit, you get treated like royalty, you know how to turn your third-rate, non-paying, non-air conditioned wine shop into a vacation bonanza. But for those of you new to wine country your HoseMaster of Wine can recommend these interesting and specialty tours for your visit to California's wine country.
NAPA VALLEY CHEESY TASTING ROOM TOUR
A few people actually come to Napa Valley to taste the wines. Not that many. Oh, sure, once upon a time folks lined up to taste the wines, purchase cases, and enjoy them for many years to come. But, frankly, who can afford the wines now? Doesn't it feel a little painful to spend $100 for a bottle of Cabernet when the kid who made your shoes in Indonesia doesn't earn enough to afford the online Appellation America? Now most people just shop when they come to Napa Valley. Even if you can afford them, you can't take the wines you purchase on a plane any more because, well, the terrorists actually won. But shirt, hats, coasters, all that carnival crap, is easy to put in your carry-on, and it's more affordable. The Cheesy Tasting Room Tour hits all the high points in Napa Valley kitsch. Your knowledgeable and taste-free guide, think of her as your own personal Leslie Sbrocco, will escort you to all the finest purveyors of schlock in the famed Napa Valley. You'll visit Darioush, where quality and taste go to die. Visit the gift shop at Niebaum-Coppola--all the taste of Vegas, all the glitter of Spencer's Gifts! And to wrap up your glorious day, a trip to Castello di Amorosa and a visit to their famous torture chamber--OK, it's the tasting room, but Gitmo's got nothing on these wines! Napa Valley's tasting room gift shops rival the best that Six Flags has to offer!
RUSSIAN RIVER WINE ROAD UNICYCLE TOUR
The Wine Country of California is crawling with smug bicyclists. Though "smug bicyclists" is redundant. Folks who work in wine country deal with them on a daily basis as they wind their way down the beautiful, vineyard-lined country roads slowing traffic, causing head-on collisions and clogging roadside drainage ditches. They ride miles and miles on hot summer days and then graciously lend their presence to tasting rooms, using the bathrooms, begging for water, and never spending a dollar. They are much beloved. But for the truly arrogant, there is now the Russian River Unicycle Tour. Imagine the moral superiority of someone who has unicycled to the nearest winery! Picture yourself dismounting your unicycle in front of Rochioli knowing that you have left no carbon footprint that day! That the people driving cars and purchasing wine are your intellectual and moral inferiors! Even the bicyclists in their pathetic helmets and Lance Armstrong testicle-free bracelets will have to stand in awe of you on your unicycle! Can't ride a unicycle? Don't worry. Our vans will drop you off secretly fifty feet from the tasting rooms and you can walk. We won't tell. We hate bicyclists too.
THE SANTA BARBARA COUNTY INFERIORITY COMPLEX TOUR
Anyone who has toured the wineries of Santa Barbara County can tell you, these are serious people spending serious money to make strikingly average wines! But they'll never let on. They are going to ride that "Sideways" horse until there's not enough meat on it to feed their migrant workers. They're going to swear the Santa Rita Hills produce the best Pinot Noirs in California despite twenty years of evidence to the contrary--but, well, folks believe OJ is still looking for his wife's murderer, so why is this any different? Hell, some folks think Dick Cheney isn't a traitor--facts don't really persuade people. And, frankly, in the case of Santa Barbara County and how they hopelessly promote their wines, it's just about insecurity. The Santa Barbara County Inferiority Complex Tour takes you and your guests to four different wineries where you'll hear winemakers and owners swear that their wines stand up to any in the world. Knowledgeable guides will ask them which Burgundies their Pinot Noirs are better than--the ones that have Hearty in front of them? Sure, Tuscany has Florence, Burgundy has Beaune, but Santa Ynez Valley has Solvang! I don't know about you, but when I think quality wine, I think Holland! Oh, it's a hoot! But be careful what you say around Fess Parker. He may just skin your retriever and make a Labcoat out of him. Fess in his starring role as Dick Cheney
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."